It's Okay to Slow Down

3 May 2020

Six weeks in. Surprisingly, it doesn't feel like it; the days have gone by quicker than I ever thought they would. And now we're in May? Goodbye April, it's been...interesting.

Something playing on my mind at the beginning of all this was the thought of achieving very little in the time I had. After all, I had all this free time I didn't possess before. I think that the past two years of intense, full-time education left me feeling like that work was the only productive work I was doing. Without that, any other activities I were doing were futile. 

The idea that I could binge a Netflix series, without any interruption or guilt, was foreign to me; usually, if I was to watch anything, it would be on in the background while doing coursework or an essay - I've always felt this was the only way I would be able to justify watching anything, that watching it on its own was a waste of my time, while I could be spending it passing exams. And after college, if I'd spent an hour of what I felt to be a waste instead of revising, I'd try to compensate by staying up way past reasonable hours revising. It goes without saying that I still have this guilt now; less so, but it's still there. I've come to the end of all of my A-level courses at this point and am still sending in the odd assigned essay, but still find myself grasping at things to do to feel even the slightest bit 'productive' when that's all complete.

I don't imagine I'm totally alone in this, that there are many people fighting this constant pressure to be productive during this lockdown, to not look back and feel the days were wasted. I realise, however, that this kind of philosophy has been around since time began. The only difference is, we now have a twenty-four hour account of everybody's day, through the likes of Instagram and Facebook. Wherever we look, we're being encouraged to optimise our time. In the hours we'd usually spend at work, at school, socialising, revising, we're trying to replace with other means. Learning a language? Writing a book? Online courses? Exercising? Just a few of the things we're doing to tackle the endless burden of needing to fill our time. 

In a world where it's perceived that there are two types of people - strivers or slackers - self-improvement seems to be the objective of every activity. But sometimes, it's important to sit back and remember that we didn't anticipate all of this, that this pandemic is completely beyond our control, and we can't help not having access to everything that once filled up our days. In a society where we're encouraged to spend every waking hour achieving, there is no better time than now to sit back and realise it's okay to slow down.

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