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Slow Down!

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Christian Padilla

PHHS '17, Rutgers '21

As a member of the 21st century you most likely have a need for speed. If it isn’t fast, we don’t want it. Fast food? We love it, Amazon’s Prime Delivery (One-Day Delivery)? “Yes please!” and how about meeting our significant other? Regular dating🡪Speed dating🡪Tinder… catch my drift? (Nothing against these services, just making a point)

Want an academic example?

How many of us Shmooped or used Sparknotes to get through an assigned reading?

And not only do we want that speed, but we praise speed regardless of the quality it brings.

Ever see how an entire class reacts to someone finishing an exam early? Mouths are dropping and egos have taken a hit -- immediately we think that the student is some genius… yet no one knows how the student actually did. He could have known little to nothing and just given up (happens more than you think) but just because the student does something fast, we are in awe.

Now speed has done so much for us and for me to not acknowledge that would be a disservice to all the innovators of the world. I mean look no further to our phones; in our phones we seemingly have the world in the palm of our hands. Whatever question that comes to mind, we can find a slew of answers within seconds. Feeling distant from a friend or family member? Just send a text or call them. Want to entertain yourself? You have millions of different options.

With all that said, I have a bone to pick with speed and that is when speed negatively affects our way of experiencing life.

Speed has granted us the ability to do more in less time, we should have more room to breathe but it’s quite the contrary. With all this free time, we shove more and more tasks into our daily schedule to the point where free-time is a foreign concept, maybe just on a Friday night or the weekends if anything. And the quality of those completed tasks aren’t that important, just that we did more with less time, quantity over quality. So, with our crammed schedules we hurry through our tasks, race through our days but there is a real problem with this and it’s often overlooked due to our love of speed.

  1. When we are overburdened, we become stressed and that stress permeates into our work, relationships and health.

  2. When you hurry, you hurry because you are worried that you may be late or miss an event later in the day, so that FOMO urges you to act faster with no regard for quality. With your thoughts not being tied to the present moment and your FOMO, that lack of focus and added stress from fear permeates into our work, relationships and health.

  3. When we race through our days, we become egocentric, our mind is just worried about doing more with less time not how that pursuit affects others. When someone is speeding while driving, they are so focused with getting somewhere as fast as possible that they don’t realize of how much of a danger they are becoming to others. When racing through your day, how likely are you to say “thank you” to the food server serving you? When racing through your day, how likely are you to help someone out? We are less willingly to give our time to others when we speed through our days.

So how can we combat the dangers of speed? By slowing down of course!

You might accuse me of being too idealistic, “how can we slow down when the world tells us ‘go Go GO’?!” I understand your skepticism but it is possible to be productive and grow while slowing down.

Having completed 3 years of college at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, I’ve dabbled with both a fast-paced, 24/7 “grind” lifestyle and an intentionally slow and thoughtful lifestyle. With both lives I yielded high marks in my courses and have held leadership positions, but the main difference is that I find that I actually like my life when I’m going about my day slow and I’ve grown the most when slowing down. When going slow I find my work, relationships and health to be well-maintained where when speeding my relationships and health seem to falter.

By “slow down” I mean take the necessary time needed to correctly complete the given activities and take some time to relax.

Why should you slow down?

  • Slowing down really gives you an appreciation for your tasks. By taking your time on the given task you find the beauty in the activity, by focusing on what is in front of you with thoughtfulness you’ll often find yourself in a state of flow. In this appreciation you find joy in the little things.

  • Slowing down makes you efficient, with this focus and appreciation for the task in front of you, you’ll find yourself completing the task right the first time, when rushing you are more prone to making errors so you have to go back and fix your errors, wasting time.

  • Slowing down allows you to grow. When we are rushing through our lives, we rarely stop to question the world around us and ourselves. When we slow down, we give ourselves a chance to rest and with that time we allow our minds to wander. It is in that wandering that we muse, with those musings we find answers to those important questions. It is in this wandering that we feel recharged and fulfilled.

So how do we slow down?

  1. Figure what is worthy of YOUR time: From my experience a lot of things that we use to clutter our schedules with are not necessary. Figure out what is actually necessary and important to YOU. If something is worth doing then do so slowly with attentiveness and thoughtfulness. Note: Don’t skimp your health, health is necessary! It’s hard to be nice and productive when you’re unhealthy.

  2. Create periods of slow in your days (disconnect from phone/laptop too): It is when our brain is at rest and has the ability to wander that after we feel recharged and most creative. After completing something don’t immediately into something else, allow time to reflect and rest. Rest means rest! Try to avoid going on your phone and laptop as well. While the intentions of these devices are wholesome, they easily flood the mind with too much information with so little time. You are better off sitting on a bench admiring nature or just going on a walk. With periods of slowness and rest, you are better equipped to take on your to do list. You’ll be surprised by how much work you get done even though you relaxed for some parts of the day.

  3. Be present: Where you are and what you are doing at the present moment is the most important time because it is real and graspable. When giving your time to someone/something don’t focus on the past as that is done with and can’t be changed. Don’t focus on something going on later as that hasn’t happened yet so it’s not guaranteed (How many of your summer plans got cancelled cause of the pandemic?). Focus on the present because it is happening and controllable, that’s how you can correct errors of the past and steer your future accordingly. Of course, I’m not saying the past and future don’t matter, just set up a time in your schedule to consider those two periods of time.

  4. Wake up earlier: Being awake in the early morning is a magical time to be awake. Time seems to stop since the rest of world is asleep, you set your own tempo. Use the morning to start the day on your terms, start your day off slow and do what you need to do, focus on what you need to focus on while you have the morning all to yourself. Starting your day off slow seems to carry over when the rest of the world starts their day and since you got a head-start you have no reason to hurry.

So, embrace the slow in your life. With this slowness you’ll find joy and meaning in your life which will make for an incredible college experience.

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