I’ll be honest: I like to drive fast.
This summer consisted of a lot of road trips for me, so I became quite familiar with the impatient, road-raging version of myself. I found myself yelling at the cars in front of me and becoming anxious with the cars behind me. Driving became stressful and burdening. It wasn’t until one car ride in particular that I finally realized that I needed to chill.
I was nearing my destination and the sun was setting above the highway stretched out in front of me. It was the perfect time to reflect, and I started thinking about how I really didn’t need to be worrying about everything so much. I didn’t need to stress about speeding up for the aggressive cars behind me or begrudgingly slowing down for the slow drivers in front of me. I didn’t need to fret shaving off the minutes on my ETA. What I needed to do was relax and enjoy this moment of quiet, this peaceful alone time. My bed would still be there waiting for me no matter how long it took me to get home.
My mind started to wander on this train of thought, and I decided that it was time for me to slow down in other aspects of my life and stop worrying about the stress that surrounds me. If I could stop worrying about the various pressures pushing me to do more and the obstacles slowing me down, I think life, just like that car ride, would be a lot more enjoyable. If I learned to embrace the cliché “it’s about the journey not the destination,” I would see that there is actually a lot of truth to that. Life is a crazy whirlwind of a journey, and as the ever-wise Ferris Bueller once put it, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” You see, I don’t want to miss life.I don’t want to get so caught up in reaching my end goal that I miss the beauty of waiting.
I believe in a life lived to the fullest, and that’s not possible if I don’t slow down every once in a while and really truly live it. If spending the summer as a camp counselor taught me anything, it was patience. When the time came for the junior session, which meant taking an entire cabin of 8 year olds to each activity, one of the camp directors reminded us that patience is key; and if the girls want to stop and look for four leaf clovers when we’re already late for an activity, that’s okay. This concept was hard for me to grasp because I’m so used to a busy routine that doesn’t allow for much “dilly-dallying.” However, I think there’s a lot to learn from the blissful ignorance of children. They aren’t afraid to appreciate the simple beauties of life, even if it means briefly ignoring the pressures that are placed upon us to go, go go.
As we step into the routine of schoolwork and extracurricular activities and jobs, I encourage all of you to take a moment to slow down. If you find yourself experiencing road-rage in your daily life, rushing to get to the next meeting or class or event, step back for a bit and remind yourself about the beauty of patience. Of course, I’m not encouraging you to skip class or work and count Netflix as a form of slowing down. Rather, I’m suggesting that you prioritize. Instead of laying in your bed a little longer and then speed-walking to class, allow yourself time to take the long way and stop to chat with someone you haven’t seen in a while. Instead of spending the night in the endless cycle of procrastinating and cramming, crank out your work at the library and then reward yourself with an ice cream date with your friends. I’ll be the first to tell you that these things are easier said than done. However, I think that if you’re willing to put your mind to it, you’ll find that these simple moments might present themselves to you when you least expect it. Maybe in the form of an impromptu dance party, or a late night Walmart run because they’re the only store that sells your flavor of Ben and Jerry’s, or maybe just a quiet moment to yourself. You must allow yourself to slow down every once in a while and embrace life for what it has to offer. I think you’ll find that it can offer quite a lot.