Saturday, September 22, 2018

Slow down

Without sounding like an old lady, there comes a time where it feels like everything is moving in fast-forward. We’re constantly forced to think of the next step ahead before we’ve completed the first one, and before we know it we’re tripping over ourselves trying to stay ‘on track’.

In school we are constantly reminded to think about what options we want to take, what college we want to attend. In college it’s what uni we wish to go to, and at uni what career path we’d like to go down. It’s a constant cycle of decisions and thinking about the future before we have time to actually digest and appreciate the present.

All of these responsibilities make me miss being younger, when my biggest decisions were what to put on my sandwich or which channel to watch when I got home from school. But what I have started to notice is that even children these days seem to be on a race to adulthood, and I can’t help but think that we all need to slow down.

It seems that everyone fixates on the privileges of growing up, but forgets the sacrifices and things we might lose when we’re no longer a child. Seeing your friends every day at school, having free time on weekdays, kids’ discos, riding your bike for hours without getting bored, having a small sum of money but still feeling rich (thanks to no student loan to pay back).

Don’t get me wrong, there are perks to adulthood, but it makes me sad to see people wishing away their younger years. Clubs and alcohol will probably be around forever (yes, I’m aware that I sound like a Mum - drink responsibly), but the freedom of your imagination, that burst of energy you wake up with because you have your favourite lesson today… these things might not be around forever.

And it’s not just the younger generation that I see wishing their time away. It’s everyone. Friends my age are constantly worrying about the future, questioning their life plan. Some want to be married by a certain age, have a child by a certain age, maybe have their own house or dream career by a certain age. And this is great. Having these aspirations is great. But what I see is the amount of stress that it inflicts when they feel like they’re not reaching these goals fast enough. They want to be married in three years so they should already have met their partner by now but they’re still single. They want to have their own house next year but their savings are only enough to cover a flat. Their best friend just got engaged so that means that they should have already met their partner by now too. It seems that everyone is trying to look over the other side of the mountain before they’ve actually climbed it.

To wish away each day in pursuit of tomorrow just seems like a rather unfortunate way to live. I’m aware that I’m in my last year of uni and that this carries the most importance in terms of my overall degree and career. But…I’m also aware that I’m in my last year of uni. (If all goes to plan), I’ll never experience this again, and so I want to make the most of my time here.

Have you ever stopped to take a look at where you are now, and to accept that it may not be where you are next year, or next month? And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe you’ll move on to bigger and better things. But whilst aiming for these goals, why not also enjoy where we are rather than beating ourselves up over where we want to end up?

Of course, it goes without saying that it is often practical to think of the future and plan ahead. My only hope is that we don’t completely lose sight of the present.

Take a moment to enjoy today’s weather (rain or shine). Appreciate the company that you’re in rather than daydreaming about your plans next week. Make the most of your day off rather than being miserable about the shift you have tomorrow.

There’s a fine line between planning ahead and racing ahead. So please - take a breath.

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