I had a slow couple of weeks and I loved it. From introspection to silence and to feeling many negative emotions. This week brought a lot of perspective. Slow growth and pace is not something heavily valued in this culture and society. Instead, we celebrate busyness and uphold exhaustion as a status symbol. We go from one thing to another without trying to take a break in between. This was an intentional way of me trying to do so. I had just wrapped an intense semester in school that involved six weeks of me pulling regular all-nighters. And in as much as I wanted to jump back into writing, I couldn’t.
I had to recognize that I was overworked and that was no good for any kind of creativity. The creative process is unfruitful if we’re exhausted or burned out from earlier ventures. We need to prioritize downtime or at least recovery time. The truth is we can only thrive in our creative prowess when our brain is stress-free and energized. Our creative magic flows freely this way. We surface ideas, innovate and connect things to produce out of the box systems. Taking time off is a return on investment.
A Change of Pace
After several weeks of back to back all-nighters, getting eight hours of sleep was a dream come true. But it wasn’t so easy to reset. I wanted to jump back into writing and everything I had missed so far. I had this huge to-do list and I was excited to start it all. But it required a transition. I couldn’t go from one high to another, it required a careful change of pace. I needed to have slow days.
Days where the sole agenda was just to be. No schedule or to-do list. Just resting, day in and day out, wake, eat, sleep and repeat. I didn’t have anything preplanned but I followed the beat of my soul. I did what I wanted when I wanted to. And even though I felt guilty at times, I was able to get out of that quickly because I understood how important this was. It wasn’t even rational understanding at that time. It was just a feeling. I knew my mind, body and soul needed this but at that time I didn’t know why.
Humans Are Firstly Creatures Of Rest– Our worth shouldn’t be found in achieving goals or the road that leads there. It should be in just existing. I try not to see waking up as the start of my day. My day starts when my head hits the pillow and I drift off into a realm of rest and peace. And that was the vibe this past few weeks even when I was awake. It was actually pure bliss.
“It’s very important to enjoy time alone with yourself and just existing because existence is kind of cool.” – Angel Olsen
Emptying our Mind – this requires a process, not an isolated self-care act. And I did this. I relished just existing going from one essential act to another. I felt free and weightless not having to worry about anything not realistically of course but a break from reality is essential now and then. I read fiction and binged TV shows. And I liked that it was isolated from any sort of productivity because it nudged me to do things because I wanted to and not because I was trying to procrastinate work.
Observing My Slowness – being still didn’t mean good emotional well being. A lot of things come to the surface when we’re otherwise not occupied. We feel things we didn’t know we could and the stories we tell ourselves become a lot louder. Being in deep feeling, this was loud and consistent. But it brought me to the conclusion I needed. Our feelings are never invalid even though we might not want to feel that negative emotion. We can choose to get to the root of it.
The quality of our life depends on quality introspection and observation.
“Which is why each of us needs to sit down and examine ourselves. What do we stand for? What do we believe to be essential? What are we living for? Deep in the marrow of our bones, in the chambers of our heart, we know the answer. The problem is that the busyness of life, the realities of pursuing a career and surviving in the world, come between us and that self-knowledge.” -Ryan Holiday
A Semblance of Life
No matter how fast and busy everything on the outside might seem, everything that matters in life is slow and steady. This period reminded me of how much I missed the flow state, being in a state where time and space seem obsolete. History has shown us the difficulty of getting into the flow state but I defied that. I felt it for days.
Additionally, when I think about the growth and trajectory of life changes tend to happen slowly especially important ones. We’re taught to value delayed gratification, slow growth, consistency, small wins and the process. While we move to something worthwhile, it might likely happen slowly and that’s okay.
One voice that got louder this period was the voice of comparison. It tried to pressure me to do things because of how other people were moving forward. It questioned the reason for my break. Why should I go on a break when she isn’t? You need to pull all-nighters to get more done. Can’t you see how far he’s gone? I heard everything and felt everything. But I knew what I needed was bigger than any negative emotion.
I knew there was no need for me to feel lacking and inadequate for what others were doing because our goals and journeys differed. I’ve accepted that comparison is something that just happens but it should lead me to inspiration and contentment.
Getting Out Of The City
I took an impromptu trip and it was the perfect way to wrap up my slow period. It provided the amount of contrast needed to go on to do what I had to do next. Although my slow week was one of bliss, it was also one of intense deep feelings. I was down almost every day and I still wonder how I felt both things at the same time and with intensity even.
The trip felt like entering a time capsule. I walked through the past and thought of what could have been which made me more appreciative of what I have now.
I learned about the contrast dial from George Mack and imagining a far worse uncomfortable experience turned up the dial a lot. Suddenly I wasn’t worried about status games, the hedonic treadmill or comparing journeys. I was reminded of the value of contentment and the joy of being on the right track.