Some days, I feel like I’m so damned behind.
Like everyone else is out there crushing life, while I can barely figure out what’s for dinner.
Despite the fact that I intentionally keep my life simple and practice a ton of self-care, I still feel overwhelmed much of the time. Overwhelmed by work, by clutter, by the news, by my own oversized expectations of myself, and by the perceived pressure to curate my kids’ childhood with just the right blend of activities.
It’s easy to lose perspective on how quickly our world has sped up—but consider this: a generation or so ago, nobody had cell phones. We didn’t have email, the internet, or—gasp—caller ID (fortunately, we also didn’t have robocalls). We couldn’t scroll through social media or watch Netflix or get pinged with notifications about all the terrible things happening in the world. We didn’t have school shootings. Our homes were smaller, and we bought less stuff to fill them with.
Our bodies, minds, and spirits weren’t built for this pace. Especially for those of us who are highly sensitive. For those of us with physical health problems, or those who are grieving. For those of us who have anxiety, depression, ADHD—or all three.
When we can’t keep up, when our minds race and our to-do lists run on for pages, it’s easy to look around and feel like we’re the problem. That we just need to “buck up” and figure out how to learn more, do more, be more. We blame ourselves, and we believe that we are broken.
Perhaps, in trying to keep up with this breakneck pace, we actually break: we become sick or depressed—or we become sleep-deprived and depleted.
Because we are built for slow—for a well-paced life. We’ve evolved over billions of years, cells multiplying, bodies slithering out of the ocean, growing fur and muscle and brains. We were built to live simply, to work and play, to socialize and create. We were not built for the constant buzzing of information seeking our attention.
No wonder we feel out of sync when the rhythms of our lives become dictated by the constant buzzing of information, by the pulse of do, do, do, instead of our own steady hearts.
It’s okay to step back—to opt out of the race for more. It’s okay to say: no, this isn’t the life I choose. To say: I want sweet and slow. I want sunlight and soil. I want the solid, steady thrum of the earth to set my pace. I want downtime and time to read—and I want my children to feel the spaciousness of their childhood the way I once did.
We are not behind.
We do not need to keep up with the highlight reels of everyone else’s lives.
When we leave this life, we probably won’t wish we’d worked more or pushed ourselves harder. No, we might wish instead that we’d sat in awe at the shine of our own goodness, the muscling of our soft, strong hearts. That we’d learned how to melt and drip with love, for ourselves and for others.
We are not behind—we are never behind. We’re right in the midst of our complicated, glittering, stumbling, breathtaking lives.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Image: Unsplash/Issam Hammoudi
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Catherine Monkman