Finding time for the American dream

By Ludmila Mitula

Senior Staff Writer 

Since coming to the U.S., I hardly ever have friends over for coffee. I tried a few times. Only one or two of the 10 girls I invited would show up. The answer to the simple question “How about coffee next week?” is invariably: “I’m very busy. Maybe in two weeks?” Even meeting up at Starbucks can be unsuccessful. If I don’t want to make an appointment for a coffee date two weeks in advance, I am forced to drink my Mocha Frappuccino alone, in my car.

I’m trying to live without a full schedule, which for my American friends is crazy. To be honest, my life, even without a plan, is getting more and more hectic. In the U.S., everybody is crazy busy. Students are overwhelmed, mothers are over-scheduled and kids are being pushed to their limits by parents and teachers. Modern life encourages us to be everywhere and do everything. Everybody wants to go to extremes and do the best they can. But at what cost?

Parents push their children to utilize every ounce of presumed potential. Students are taught that the American dream is the dream you have after a long day’s work, which is why children study so hard. Students work nights, weekends and holidays. By morning, many are so tired they fall asleep in the library, snoring.

I have a feeling that people love to feel busy. Psychologists, such as Dr. Edward Hallowell, believe that being “crazy busy” makes people feel important. If you are busy, then you must be in demand. If you can hardly find the time for a cup of coffee with friends, then at least you know you are needed.

People joke about being busy. Sometimes they brag about it, like being busy makes them a higher class of person. My good friend’s husband tells her that he is more important than her because he is much busier than she is.

He thinks he is successful because he has no free time, his life is hectic and his calendar is filled with business meetings, video conferences and often-overlooked events such as birthdays.

One of my friends feels guilty whenever she is not busy. She volunteers at schools and does charity work whenever her nine-to-five fails to fill her time. This friend’s husband expects her to be a busy bee because in America, everybody should jump out of bed with a head full of new ideas. Her most important question for the day is: What’s next?

If you are in love with this fast lifestyle, then that is acceptable. Our modern world is bursting with possibilities, and smart, energetic people can profit from them. Life in the fast lane gives us a chance to get more done than we normally do in a week or a month. But how about people who still like to live at a normal pace? What about having time in the morning to read a magazine or newspaper?

I’m a bit sad that I don’t have any more time to wake up in the morning and smell the roses or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. People study, get jobs, work hard, and for what? To spend millions of dollars on houses and things they never seem to have the time to enjoy. People don’t realize that being busy might be as harmful to them as obesity or cigarette smoking.

Being busy could be dangerous and might even cause injury or death. Texting and driving because you’re in such a hurry is not a joke. People are dying on the road not because of car trouble or a medical emergency like a heart attack. They are dying because of lack of attention to what they really need to be doing – driving.

We are not robots, even if we think we are. Being busy sometimes keeps people away from doing what matters most to them. When I’m busy, I get frustrated with my kids, and even the traffic on the highway makes me mad.I cannot sleep very well and sometimes even break out in hives. This means that something is wrong and needs to be looked into.Our efforts should work for us not against us, even in America, where life is crazy busy.