Slowing Down Daily Life
I am my father’s daughter, in more ways than one. But particularly, in the way that he is always up before the sun, and out the door before the rest of the family has even wiped the sleep from their eyes. He always makes sure that we’re at the airport at least four hours early. I even remember being dropped off at school before the sun was even up on some days.
Like my father, I can be very hasty, and sometimes embarrassingly so.
I rushed my way through my first relationship which, just a few months later, fell flat on its face. I am quick to share my not-fully-formed ideas for screenplays and podcasts and books and photo projects, and then fail to follow through on any of them. Just this morning I flew out the door to grab a coffee before work, only to get to the cafe parking lot and realize I’d left my wallet at home.
Though sometimes my proclivity towards rushing things is simply due to impatience, more often than not, the motivation is based in something far more complex: fear. Fear of abandonment caused me to bulldoze my way through the beginning of that first relationship. Alternatively, fear of failure has caused me to step away from so many blossoming ideas for creative projects.
Despite my habit of rushing through life, the concept of slowness has proven itself valuable through my introduction to slow fashion. If there’s anything that being a part of the slow fashion community has taught me, it’s that good things take time and intention. Fast fashion, in addition to being harmful to the environment and the people making the clothes, is also often cheap and poorly made. It’s designed to meet needs quickly, but not designed to last. In the same way that I’ve made a decision to invest in pieces of clothing that are designed with intention and longevity in mind, I’m making a conscious decision to live a life that is slower, for the better.
This is a lot easier said than done, of course. A couple months ago when I began to think about putting slowness into practice more consciously, it felt overwhelming to think about the mechanics of slowing myself down. So often, everything within me wants to bolt forward, without thought or consideration. It’s the fears and insecurities behind this tendency to rush through things that takes a lot of internal work and self-criticism. Working through these fears in and of itself takes lots time and intention. Rather than attempting to tackle all of these fears and insecurities at once, I’ve decided to take a more nuanced approach. I am focusing on smaller, more approachable ways of incorporating slowness into my daily routine, and thinking more intentionally about some of the larger scale goals I want to achieve over time.
Slower Daily Routines
One of the smaller adjustments I’ve made to incorporate slowness into my daily routine has to do with how I’ve restructured my meal times. Lately, I’ve made it a point to eat most of my meals sitting down. Preferably at a table, near a window with direct sunlight. Rather than of eating out of a fast food bag in my car or rushing out the door in the mornings with a piece of toast wrapped up in a napkin, I have made it a priority to incorporate some stillness into my daily meal times. I’ve realized that I so often opt to eat in the car, because of the fear that if I’m seen eating by myself, people will think I’m lonely. Aside from the fear of being perceived as lonely by others, is simply my own discomfort with simply sitting with myself. Even when I’m eating at home by myself, I feel the need to listen to a podcast or watch a YouTube video, which I interpret as my subconscious way of fabricating some sort of human connection during my meal times.
I’m working on using my meal times alone, particularly breakfast, as a time to check in with myself. It’s during this time that I try to ask myself things like, Did I get enough sleep last night? What was the first thing on my mind when I woke up? Why was that the first thing on my mind? How can I continue to care for myself throughout the day? Allowing space for this slowness, while still difficult at times, has also been incredibly re-orienting. By challenging myself to to just sit and be with myself for these few minutes, I’m facing that fear of loneliness, and ultimately discrediting it. I am reminded, in these moments, of the truth of who I am. I am honoring myself by giving myself space.
On a larger scale, I’ve begun thinking about my relationships differently through the lens of slowness. In the past, I’ve had the tendency to share too much too soon with new friends and romantic interests in the hopes of securing the person’s validation early on. This practice of frantically divulging the deepest parts of me to people I barely knew, developed out of a deep-seated need for tenderness and care in my life.
Now, I am working on taking a slower approach to cultivating closeness with the people in my life. I am practicing holding the deeper parts of who I am close to me. I am learning to share myself and my stories with people as trust is built over time, rather than oversharing off the bat as a means of forging trust. I find that this practice feels far more honorable to my personal experience, and allows for a more natural progression and genuine connection in my relationships.
Another way I am incorporating slowness into my life on a larger scale is in the way that I think about my creativity. Rather than rushing over-enthusiastically into projects, I am taking my time with the ideation stage of the creative process. Social media has developed in me a desire for instant gratification, often causing me to rush through the process of creating something. The flip side of this, however, is that often times when I begin working on a photo project or a screenplay, for example, I get discouraged half-way through due to fear that it won’t come out exactly as planned.
As I’ve begun to incorporate slowness into my creative practice, I’ve quite enjoyed the process of mulling over my ideas for a while. The more time I spend ideating and planning out steps I can take towards actualization, the more special each project and idea becomes to me. I know that because I have invested a lot of thought and intention into a project, the outcome will be that much more true to who I am. I think that the creative projects I produce as I begin to live a slower life will be some of the work that I am most proud of.
Overall, becoming more of a “slow” person for me, simply means that I am working on taking my time with all that I do. I am no longer allowing my fears to send me speeding through life. I am carving out space in both the big and small things, making room to develop intentions and live by those intentions. It has not been easy, by any means. I am still very much in the process of solidifying slowness as a way of life. However, I am excited at the thought of living a more intentional life that is full of stolen moments of stillness, that honors my stories and experiences, and is free from fear and insecurity.