Learning to Slow Down in Life

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I use to think that the closer we get to our thirties, the more “serious” we should start acting and viewing our lives. It’s also been a period in life that I’ve generally been afraid of reaching, out of fear of not being where I should be or not having achieved certain milestones — at least based on what society and others tell you, that is. Over the past few years, I’ve learned and continued to appreciate the importance of slowing down in life, a lesson I believe everyone can gain great value from.

We’ve heard the sayings before: “Don’t grow up too fast,” but also, “Stop aging yourself.” Well, which one should we be living by? The thing is, there’s no right or wrong way to live your life, so long as you’re genuinely true to yourself, happy and confident in the path you’re walking on in life. This isn’t to say that if you’re still figuring things out that you aren’t being honest, feeling happy or going in the right direction — everyone is different, with varying goals/dreams and obstacles that might get in the way. But it’s important to be in tune with your feelings and not withdraw from life, especially in difficult times.

When you’re in that awkward teenage phase, instinct generally tells you to quickly find a way out and dive right into maturity, but that’s obviously a lot easier said than done. When you’re 14 and trying to act 18, that’s really all it is — an act — and I was definitely guilty of that in my younger years. Thankfully, those times are far behind me, but I’ve now spiraled into another classically awkward and muddy phase of life: my late twenties. Now that I’m much closer to 30 than 20, I feel the need to hurry up, settle down, have the faraway ranch I’ve always dreamed of, with 2–4 kids and countless cats and farm animals (this is a very solid life plan of mine, ok?). Despite being 2.5 years away from that age, I’ve learned to slow down the past couple of years and reevaluate my life and who I am, what it means to me to be alive and what I want to achieve — making me not so afraid of reaching the big 3–0, no matter how much I still have yet to accomplish, do, see and learn — until and after I reach that age. What’s the rush?

I feel like the reason for a lot of the outcomes of my self revision and updated lifestyle is because many of the things I sincerely enjoy are stereotypically enjoyed at a much later age. I use to frequent 2–3 concerts a week, stay up past 3 A.M. binging Netflix and playing video games, and never miss out on a weekend event. I now live a more mellow life caring for my plant and fur babies, reading and writing as much as possible, spending time in nature, exploring the world around me and just keeping things simple: the way I enjoy my life to be. Now I’m the one sounding like I’m aging myself, but don’t get me wrong — I still love marathoning (and quoting on the daily) SpongeBob, going to metal shows, nerding out with new games, seeing where the night takes me and my girls and staying up late to learn about the new conspiracy or documentary I just binge-watched.

And honestly, who’s to say what can and can’t be enjoyed at a specific age? Nobody, which is what makes life wonderfully challenging, exciting and catered to each and every one of our unique beings and lifestyle. Going hand in hand with that, dozens of these activities can also just go along with one’s personality type, not necessarily age — which is how I believe I am. The fact that I’d rather be at home making dinner, watching a new movie and reading a book or playing a game is simply being an introvert, something you realize more and more people identify with, making it seem like you’re not so alone, even if you are. I definitely enjoy doing these activities with a loved one, too, and just as much love the moments where we’re both doing our own thing — that’s when you know things are going in the right direction on all ends (:

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These days, it’s becoming “cool” to tell your friends that you’d rather stay home than go out and party all night — ‘cause chances are, they’re wanting to do the exact same thing. People have taken more pride in showing off their laid-back weekends at home and their hours spent with reading, painting, gardening or the like. The “old soul” mindset has become more of a modern-day romantic gesture; the self-care movement has turned what can be deemed a boring activity into something more powerful and rejuvenating. Doing a crossword or sudoku puzzle exercises your brain; caring after plants helps relieve stress and anxiety. Rather than just being relaxing, or what some would refer to as “lame,” these good-for-you-and-life activities serve an actual purpose for people through all ages. You can truly embrace them at 25 or 55.

I think there’s a small part of me that wants to feel settled. My friends are of all ages, but most are already married, have a house and kids, and host game nights and dinner parties with their circle of friends. I’m 27, and part of me feels like I should not only be ready for these milestones in life, but more importantly, chase after them. And while I most certainly would be ready to have these moments and chapters of life, I’ve also learned to slow down and not rush myself — ’cause I know they’ll happen when the timing is right! Am I currently happy? Yes. Do I have a loving family and group of friends? Absolutely. Would I be ready to embark on the next great chapter in my life? Sure! I definitely don’t think it’s good to live with the mindset of a “go with the flow, it is what it is lifestyle,” ’cause that can often send you down a path in which you don’t have control, or don’t allow yourself to because you’re so carefree. Knowing all that helps make me feel more secure and content with my present life and the direction its headed, rather than spending so much of my current time thinking about and rushing the future.

Sure, there are things I do that might make me feel or seem older than I am, but everyone you and I know who has made it to sixty or seventy or eighty has said the same thing: it’s all gone by too fast. So why would I want to skip what’s considered the prime of my life? I’d much rather soak up each and every second of every day, let life do its work and not force anything to happen that isn’t meant to yet. And it’s comforting to know that while we may not have control over life’s events, we definitely have control over how we react to them — allowing us to make easier, more confident decisions that are good for us while having life pan out naturally as it’s meant to. I’m definitely an over thinker by nature, but that’s what our twenties are for, right? While there are many things that make me feel like I should be at a certain point in my life at the age of 27, I’m reminding myself of everything wonderful that will happen between now and 10 years that I wouldn’t give up for anything. It would be a shame to miss out on what life has to offer you if you’re too busy worrying about what it can’t or what the future holds.

I suppose having this 1000+ word conversation with myself is a reminder to not grow up faster, force things to happen or obsess over wishing they’d happen, but to embrace myself and my life at this very moment. To keep moving forward, to not withdraw myself from any obstacles that may come along the way (but actively work on them), to never give up on what I love and to always hold on to what’s good. I want to always remember what it’s like to feel alive, both in the present and when I look back at my life.

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