By Martha Mae, Contributing Writer for Sortyourfuture.com.
Feeling the pressure, navigating adulthood and learning how to slow your roll.
When you finally turn twenty and escape the loud sirens of adolescence, it’s like the entire world suddenly shifts. People want to know your life goals and the ins and outs of your five year plan. As well as answering all the questions that come with being a 20-something-year-old, your name is expected to be on the bills that come flooding in each month. You have to understand how to order a WiFi router and find the cheapest car insurance. It’s time to up your LinkedIn game. Learn to take meter readings. You realise how overpriced it is to eat healthy. (Seriously, why does it cost £3 for a punnet of raspberries?) Worst of all, you are convinced that everybody else has it all figured out already.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost half of 18 to 24 year olds are suffering from loneliness, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The usual distractions that break up our working week (visiting family, chatting over coffee and going for day trips) have been tossed out the window, along with our motivation to keep calm and carry on. Yet, there is still a looming expectation that we must be even more productive. We must push through. Get more done. Achieve something great. Because we’ve got more time on our hands. Right?
Wrong. In a time when the liveliest hour of the day is popping to Tesco to do the food shop, it's important to be kinder to ourselves. We need to learn not to glamourise feeling busy and run off our feet, especially in this current climate of uncertainty and constant change.
Too often, our inner monologues sound like this...
“Graduate with at least a 2:1. Earn your own money. Make fancy CVs. Take rejection on the chin. Accept your student debt. Did you apply for that internship? Volunteer. Get a well-paid job that also positively contributes to the world. Don’t fail. But know you won’t succeed yet either. Don’t quit. Shop around. Take more rejection. Have you tried running? Have a side-hustle. Work for free. Also get paid. Show up. Take that online course. Prove yourself. Have boundaries. But be available. Do it with a smile. Gain enough experience. No need to be stressed though. Just enjoy it! While it lasts! You’re only 20 once!”
It’s normal to get swept up in all the things we should be doing (instead of binge-watching Bridgerton or baking a banana bread for the hundredth time this year). Have you ever taken the time to think about your successes? There might be more on your achievements list than your to-do list. Just saying.
Learning how to slow your roll when you’re living in a fast-paced world might be the ultimate key to inner peace. Having the ability to check yourself when you feel overwhelmed is hard, but it’s not impossible. Imagine being able to take a walk without checking the emails on your phone. Imagine, just for tomorrow, you decided to work from home in your pyjamas. Imagine you took the day off altogether. Imagine you said no to the person who keeps asking you to take on new projects. Imagine saying yes to the things that make you happy. All these things could be seen as you “slowing your roll”. You don’t have to work at 110 percent all the time, despite what you were told in school.
How do you learn to slow your roll?
While having a bath or stopping to make the perfect cuppa are great examples of slowing things down, they don’t always solve the real-world problems life throws at us. Deadlines. Workloads. Tasks. Difficult conversations. Here are a few active steps you can take to ensure you are slowing your roll from the outside, as well as the inside.
- Take a step back and prioritise. What’s the first thing that needs doing? Which task can wait? In order to slow your roll, you have to look objectively at the cards you’ve been dealt and reassess the game.
- Manage everyone’s expectations. Are you expecting too much of yourself? Are you overworking yourself? It’s important to vocalise your feelings to friends, family and even superiors at work when you feel as though the work is mounting up. Send an email. Book a call. Practise putting yourself first.
- Create a workflow spreadsheet. It’s likely you already have somewhere to log and document your tasks for the week. However, making a spreadsheet and assigning different tasks to different days can really boost your productivity, and create a stress-free workflow. Find space to schedule downtime too, so you have dedicated moments to relax.
- Remember you are already enough. Write a list of all your successes and achievements to date. They can be minor or major. If you’re experiencing rejection or feel a dip in your confidence, try to remember that you - right now - are good enough. For more tips for dealing with rejection, click here.
Whether you’re managing your work-life balance, coping with your studies, struggling to find a job or facing rejection, you are truly never alone.