The art of slowing down
There’s a lot of talk about slowing down and downshifting nowadays. The meaning of the whole phenomenon is a little different to each one of us, but most people view it as jumping our of a cycle where we push on forward without caring about our wellbeing. Slowing down means something like that for me as well. For pretty much my whole adult life I’ve pushed on the gas pedal and hurried forward. In all honesty, I was performing my life instead of living it and nothing was ever enough. There was always room to be better and do more. Eventually it all just became too much and I crashed.
I felt pressure to be a certain way and to perform a certain way. If you looked at my life from the outside, everything was perfect, but I stressed so much about what other people thought about me and my life. Am I acceptable even though I’m not in the most traditional profession? I felt like I wasn’t understood which made me feel like I wasn’t accepted. Under all this pressure I had lost myself – it was easier to push forward even harder than face the fact that I had no clue who I was and what I wanted. I focused too much on other people’s opinions and let them guide me while making decisions. Even though it was tough to crash, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I had to stop, look myself in the eye and admit that I was going way too fast. I had to put on the breaks and slow down for a while.
Is slowing down easy and effortless? Serenity and the clarity of life? Not even close. It takes up so much energy and makes you doubt everything in your life. What do I want? What makes me happy? Can I create the life I want or should I just give up before even starting? Should I do nothing because I’m afraid of failure? It’s funny when you think about it: you can’t really fail in this! Your life will become better regardless, since you’ve acknowledged that your old life wasn’t good for you. It might not turn out the way you originally planned, but it will definitely be better.
One thing I’m having trouble with is accepting that this process takes time. It’s frustrating to feel like things and thoughts are just going in circles and you can’t get a grip of you emotions. And the next day you might take a huge jump forward. You have to remember to be really patient, which has never been a strength of mine.
In the end, I think slowing down for me means listening to myself more. Stopping and thinking about what I want and where my heart desires to be. Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean working less if the life your values and dreams project needs a little extra work for a while. It doesn’t mean that achieving your dream life will be easy. The easiest thing would be to continue in your old way of life. It’s safe, it’s secure – you know what’s expected of you. It’s scary to make changes and take risks. Especially when you believe those are the things that are the most important for you.
And despite all the fear and anxiety I feel so right about reaching out for a life that looks more like me. I feel like getting close to thirty has made me realize that other people’s opinions and expectations don’t matter. I can take them into consideration, but I shouldn’t let them define me. They have always been there and always will be. The key is how you react to them and if you take them on to be your burden. Before I’ve leaned too much on other people’s opinions and image of me, even to the point of losing myself. It wasn’t fun, but hey – you can always turn a new page in life and find yourself again.
What kind of experiences do you have about burnouts, slowing down and the topic in general?