By: Cara King, MPH Candidate, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health
Every day I’m surrounded by people that are in a hurry. They’re speeding by in their cars, they’re pushing the time of the yellow light, they’re walking when the light is red, they’re talking on the phone gesticulating wildly, while run-walking to their next meeting. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way innocent. I walk fast (usually because I’m late), I talk and walk and text and huff impatiently when people walk slowly three abreast on the sidewalk in front of me and I can’t pass them. My e-mail is connected to my phone, is connected to my computer, is connected to my calendar, is connected to my Facebook, is connected to my Instagram, is connected to my Fitbit. I’m in grad school and I have a part time job, and an internship and I’m helping my sister plan a wedding, and I need to eat healthy, and I need to exercise, and I need to take care of my dogs and I need to keep my house clean, and my finances in order and somehow, I’m supposed to “take care of myself.”
We worship busy. “The things you used to own, now they own you.” (Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club) This isn’t just about keeping up with material goods, and it’s not really even about keeping up intellectually. This is a marathon of constant inundation and if you can’t keep your brain going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you’re left behind, and somehow it’s your own fault. You should have been a better planner. You shouldn’t trust that things will simply “work out”. Why would you think of marching to the beat of your own drum? By the way, did I mention that studies have shown that multi-tasking is just not very productive1?
There’s something wrong with those who take life a little slower. Who has time to stop and smell the roses? That is time that we could put toward being productive, or at least appearing to be productive. That is time that could have been spent on a project that may or may not actually change anything. That is time that should have been devoted to thinking about your next move. What would happen if we took a moment to really listen to each other, rather than thinking ahead to what will happen next? I think we forget why it is a lovely thing to slow down, and take the opportunities that life gives you to help yourself and others, and to enjoy the moments we have right now. Because, you know what? We honestly are only promised “right now”. Not tomorrow, not next week, or year or fulfillment of our “5-year plan”.
We are weeks away from approaching what may be the busiest season of the year. Don’t get caught up. I beg you to slow down and sincerely think about as many moments as you can. Take a mental health day and enjoy your own company, or enjoy spending time with someone or a group of people who make you happy. Do something nice for someone you know, or a complete stranger. Do anything that gives you a different perspective on your busy life. You may just realize that it’s okay to slow down and go with the flow, because the little things you miss by being busy are more important that the things you think are big.
1 Buser, T., & Peter, N. (2012). multitasking. Experimental Economics, 15(4), 641-655. doi:10.1007/s10683-012-9318-8
Cara King is a 2nd year MPH candidate at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from East Stroudsburg University in 2001, she worked primarily as a Certified Pharmacy Technician until realizing her passion was to encourage health at the population level. She currently resides in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.