Life

Slow living, anxiety and me

06.20.19

I’ve noticed that slow living attracts people like me: introvert, anxious and introspective. 

None of these things are bad things in any way. It makes complete sense. If you’re someone who gains energy from being still, who finds it tiring to be around others and uses the resulting space to do some deep soul-diving, then slow living is likely to find you eventually. That introspection will guide you to exploring why busy modern life doesn’t work for you, doesn’t allow you to truly experience who you are and so, whether by design or not, it’s possible you’ll end up stepping into your own slower pace of life.

And this is great: make of slow living what you will! Be it time to meditate, journal or stretch; or leaving the city, building a cabin and living off the land – somewhere between those two choices you’ll find the sweet spot that works for you.

But what if that sweet spot is actually holding you back?

I have a theory. 

On the one hand, slow living is directly ‘sold’ as the antidote to the relentless hustle, high expectations and constant comparison which has become the norm. So instead of pushing (punishing) ourselves to work harder to buy whatever the latest Influencer has, we can choose to bow out of the race. We can consciously or unconsciously discover slow design, slow business, slow food.

 And then on the other hand, we are preached to that taking time for yourself, saying ‘no’ to anything which doesn’t ‘spark joy’, decluttering our homes, our lives, our loves – well, that’s the only alternative to the hustle. 

But in saying no to the fast things, the loud things, the exciting things – are we really missing out on the good parts of a fast life? Does living slow leave you with nowhere to go? Does all this overthinking actually just lead to us getting in our own way?

I say this because I have a niggling feeling that somewhere amongst the slow living, the anxiety, and the introspection, I’ve fallen into quite a small life. A life that could be bigger.

So what do I mean by a small life? Well, it’s hard to explain. I have a life full of love and connection, undoubtedly. But could it be bigger? Yes. Am I allowing myself to get stuck into a quiet, simple life holed up in our cabin, hiding behind my phone, instead of pushing myself to do things that excite me? Absolutely. Am I hiding behind anxiety and introversion, using them as excuses to stay home, not go to the party, not stay out late and dance, not travel? I am. And that makes me sad.

Because it’s hard to know whether I do this because I simply don’t enjoy the ‘living out loud’ events anymore. Even though I used to, before anxiety, depression and all this soul-seeking came along. Is the voice I’m listening to as I choose to stay home, stay unchallenged, stay small my true feelings or an easy excuse I can retreat behind? 

I don’t know the answer. But I do know I want to push and expect more of myself from now on. Find the balance. 

Because living slow doesn’t have to mean a slow life and perhaps the joy is in finding your own balance.

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