What I've Learned at 26
I turned 26 this week. Yes, I know I'm still young but as I've entered my midtwenties I've felt like time has been passing so quickly, on warp speed. Whether the rush to graduate school, the pressure for engagement, the need for recognition at work, or anything else, time has felt heavy on my shoulders lately. Suddenly, I feel like I'm not moving fast enough, not accomplishing enough, not reaching my potential. I'm comparing myself to others, having unrealistic expectations of myself, and not focusing because my mind is in a million places. My anxiety has been through the roof and panic attacks have become normal. Breakdowns feel like they're right around the corner and I'm tipping that fine balance of pushing myself and making sure my stress is in check so it doesn't effect my health. I've been racing with an unclear destination and this week, it was hitting a crescendo that came crashing down on my birthday.
So, after a wonderful celebration at Miss Lily's with my friends for my birthday, I raced home to pack for my sister's graduation. Wanting to fit in packing, making a healthy lunch, and studying before bedtime, the pressure was on. I was flying around my room, throwing clothes into my bag as quickly as possible. And then? Whack. I hit my head HARD against the corner of a wall. No alcohol. No tripping and falling. Literally, just me hitting my head on a wall because I'm a speed demon with a klutzy side. With ice on my head and a headache that wouldn't quit, Nick kept me up, checking to see if my pupils were dilated or I had any of the concussion symptoms WebMD listed. The next day, I couldn't concentrate at work and came back home to Philadelphia where a doctor diagnosed a mild concussion and told me I couldn't work, study, or anything else I deem "productive" until symptoms stopped.
This is my third concussion. My second for moving too quickly and slamming my head into a wall (no alcohol involved). A sign to slow down? I have no idea what you're talking about. :-p As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, using the laptop I've been told to limit my time with, I can't say that I feel calm or like I've totally taken this sign to heart. But I'm hearing it loud and clear. Sometimes, the world has a way of giving you exactly what you need at the exact moment you need it. I don't have a choice this week but to slow down. Thinking, let alone overthinking, should be done minimally. Working out is not allowed. I have been told I cannot go to work.
Enjoying the moment at Miss Lily's on my birthday.
So in my first week as a 26 year old, this year has already taught me a valuable lesson. Life will continue to feel like it's going at an unbelievably fast pace, the unrelenting pressing of time will weigh heavily. But, there's a way to slow down the ever marching pressure. You can fight against it by being fully in the moment, whatever moment that may be. You can temper its expectations by embracing that failure is not only possible but probable and must be welcomed for success to take its place. You can slow it down by talking openly about the unrealistic expectations we all put on ourselves in the context of time and recognizing that everyone feels similarly.
Silly times with friends, one of the moments that makes time slow down a little.
Over the next week, I'm going to work on taking these messages to heart and using this unexpected downtime to give myself a break and room to reflect and to relax. My computer time is up, but I'll leave you with this. When I googled "quotes on time", I found the following:
- "You have as many hours in your day as Beyoncé."
- "Save the excuses. It's not about having time, it's about making time."
- "Be a badass bitch. Get shit done."
First of all, I am a badass bitch whether I am crossing everything off on my to do list or lying on the couch watching shitty TV. Excuses are just as dangerous when you're using them to put off resting and recharging. And sure, you absolutely do have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé. But you do not have a team making you look beautiful, a chef, hundreds of millions of dollars, and access to the best relaxation tools on the planet. Besides, do you really want to be like Beyoncé who never has a minute to sit down, reflect, and look like a hot mess while preparing to take back on the world after just one more episode? No? Yeah, me neither. ;-) We must work together to change the conversation around this collective judgement that we're wasting time when we're not in motion. Stopping for more than a moment, can be the best use of your time. You just have to allow yourself to do so. Or get a concussion, so you have no choice. :-)