It’s okay to go slow. In fact, sometimes it’s best to go slow. Slow can allow you to heal in a way you wouldn’t accomplish otherwise. It can provide you with the time to reflect and truly see a situation for what it is.
I used to struggle with going slow. We are a society that celebrates productivity at what seems like any cost. I do not thrive in these environments. You wouldn’t know it from watching me. I hide my stress very well. In fact, chances are I’ll be a top performer, but it comes at a cost that I am no longer willing to pay.
When I resigned my position at my last job I dreaded being asked what I did. Up until that point I had been able to speak of the position I was on leave from. They didn’t need to know that I wasn’t actively working. Once unemployed the question “What do you do for a living?” became one I hoped wouldn’t come up. It has become a way we define ourselves and how we define others. I could tell them, “I’m trying to figure out my very existence, literally whether I want to live, if I have it in me to keep going”, but people don’t know what to do with that kind of feeling or authenticity.
Since I didn’t have a simple answer to tell people when they asked the question of what I did for a living it was even harder to go slow. Every time someone asked me this question I would feel stress of needing to figure out what came next.
At one point I was beating myself up about not starting a blog to share my story. I told myself I should be blogging about what I’m going through. I should be sharing this experience so others will know that they are not alone, that there are other options, that there is hope, but I wasn’t ready. I needed to focus on healing. I had spent my life focusing on other people and I needed to learn how to focus on myself. I needed to learn how focusing on myself isn’t selfish or wrong. I had read about other people who had started companies while being ill, I should be able to do it as well (what I forgot to tell myself was that these people probably hadn’t left their husband, probably had a home that provided them with a safe, comfortable, and somewhat healing environment, and weren’t trying to heal from a broken heart). The point is I didn’t know their story so I shouldn’t bother trying to compare myself.
I was the only person beating myself up about it. Others in my life just wanted me to get better. Because I was and am going slowly, I was able to stop and evaluated what was making me feel this way. I was letting thoughts shape my behaviors and actions unconsciously. If you want a different reaction, you need to try a new action. When ill you don’t proceed like you would if healthy, for some reason you became ill, your body is trying to warn you, not betray you. It was me and only me that was demanding that I set a pace that wasn’t comfortable for myself. With that realization, I consciously made the choice to let myself relax. I had to, how can I expect myself to heal when I am constantly worrying about my future, if I’m doing the right thing, if I’m going to die?
I decided to take control of the little voice in my head and the story it was writing. I wasn’t being lazy; I was focused on what was most important. I needed to reserve my energy for what was most important. Sometimes we need to make these choices. Sometimes we need to remember that we don’t have to keep up with anyone. We set our pace. It does no good to kill myself creating a company if I am not around to watch it blossom.
It took eighteen months, but my blog is now live. In that time I’ve learned about myself, I’ve fallen in love with myself, and I’ve created a life that is in line with my beliefs. I have gone slowly and I’m still rebuilding. I know my decisions are my own. I’ve learned how to listen to that little voice and to trust it. I’ve learned not to confuse it with the other voice that tends to tell you what you can’t do something or how it will fail. It’s not the amount of time it takes you to get there; it’s that you keep moving towards it. Slowly is not stalled.
Sometimes our life is trying to tell us to slow down and we’re too stubborn to listen. Sometimes pushing yourself isn’t what you need to do. Sometimes you need to stop and reflect on what you’re doing and see if it’s really what you want or need. Slow has a place in our lives. Slow should be valued as much as productivity. They both have their purpose, what we need to do is find the balance within our lives between these two forces.
This time I’m taking the slow path so I can savor and enjoy all of life. I’m taking the slow path so I can heal on an emotional, spiritual, and physical level. This time I’m taking the slow path to ensure I reach my highest potential. I’m announcing it to all that I will not rush, I will not push, I will not run, but I will proceed to move forward one step at a time at whatever speed feels comfortable. I hope you will do the same.