In defense of slowing things down

If I’ve learned anything in my 24th year of life, it’s that sometimes it’s okay to slow things down. This is a hard lesson to learn, and to be honest, it’s something I still have to remind myself of. I think women especially struggle with this–we want it all, and sometimes all at once. And we feel pressured to do it all as fast and as perfectly as we can.

Multitasking

But why not slow life down? After all, isn’t timing everything?

Let me put my musings into context: I stumbled upon this article while “conducting research” for my thesis. It’s about a recent trend among graduate students to have children while they’re finishing their programs. The author goes on to ask whether or not universities should provide support and accommodation to parents with newborns, such as maternity leave, healthcare, and private nursing rooms.

I was surprised by how many women commented about their own experiences. Apparently, having a baby midway through your Master’s, law, medical or doctorate degree is a very real thing:

“I’m a third-year social science PhD student, and my husband and I are planning to have a child in the spring of my fourth year when I’m 26.”

“I had my daughter at 28 during my 3rd and last year of residency.”

“I had my first child during my 5th year in a Ph.D. program at an Ivy League university.”

“My daughter was born during the winter break before my final semester as a master’s student.”

“I had my son at the end of my 1st year as doctoral student in clinical psychology, attending a school in NYC.”

“I gave birth to my first son while I was in my second year of law school.”

“We have a very unhealthy obsession with work and looking busy in our culture.”

What struck me the most about these comments, besides the whole how-does-she-do-it question, is how frantic women seem to get pregnant “before it’s too late,” even in their mid-twenties. This comment, however, also stood out (and made me feel better about not having children on my radar anytime soon):

“We have a very unhealthy obsession with work and looking busy in our culture.”

I couldn’t agree more. Do we push through, multi-tasking all the way, because we want to or because we feel like we have to? Do we ever stop and enjoy the moment? Can we pause between our accomplishments, without somehow feeling like unproductive failures?

For me, it’s all about taking things one step at a time. And right now, I’m refusing to feel bad about that.

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