Learning To: Slow down and accept change

For as long as I can remember, I’ve measured myself off a self-imposed criteria of success. Since my early teens, I’ve crafted this idyllic timeline of how my life should play out.

Here’s how I thought things would look: by 21 I would have graduated university, by 25 I’d be thriving in a lucrative career-building role and by 30 I’d be happily married with a house to my name, and probably kids on the way too.

Spoiler alert: I’m well off course.

This year I’ve taken a radical side step off the typical treadmill of life, as I’ve discussed in my first blog Why I’ve swapped full-time for freelancing. The last couple of weeks of freedom have given me space to ponder and reflect, a process that has drawn up a whole host of feelings (mostly muddled musings about whether it’s okay to spend a whole day in activewear without leaving my couch).

But I thought I’d share what I’m also learning along the way.

Space is productive

All of my mornings still begin with writing an ambition to-do list. I treat it like a challenge, seeing how many line items I can add (and tick off) before midday. Each hour becomes a race against the clock to hit targets no one else knows exist.

One of my biggest personal challenges has been to accept stillness and allow myself to take a break. One of my driving motivators for freelancing has been to create a healthier work/life balance, yet I’m continually chasing frightening speeds of productivity. It’s a cycle I’m still trying to break.

I wanted to share this because I don’t think I’m alone here. If you struggle to unwind or find a slow morning reading a book neigh impossible, I hear you. In a culture where ‘being busy’ is glorified and a schedule of back-to-back meetings a badge of honour, it’s no wonder we can’t switch off.

For those creative folk out there like myself, stillness and silence are so essential to the process of creation. I’ve found reframing ‘down time’ as a productive act has really helped me enjoy and carve out moments in my day for doing a whole lotta nothing. Because in these moments, I find some of my most imaginative thoughts emerge.

All good things take time

In the last two weeks I’ve sent off probably 50 pitches to various brands and publishers across Australia. And you know what, I’m still struggling with the fact that I haven’t scored the perfect partnership yet.

Why?

Because I have a burning desire to have a plan laid out in front of me. I want to score that dream gig and get noticed by my favourite editors immediately. I’m bursting with passion and drive, but I haven’t found the right outlet to funnel my attention to.

But you know what? Persistence is key. Patience is fundamental. If I continue to dive into the first job that shows me the slightest bit of interest, I’ll be back at square one. I’m slowly learning to be okay with the process, to listen to my gut, to hold off applying for every gig under the sun and to hustle hard for the right role that’ll light me up every day.

It’s uncomfortable, but it’ll pass

This thing called change always gets me hot under the collar. Those awkward, unsettled weeks of transition never feel very good. Especially when you don’t have a clear direction ahead.

But making the leap into change is a bold one, and it’s not meant to be easy. For those that are going through something similar, take a second to thank yourself. I haven’t done enough of this yet.

It takes courage to shake things up, to say no, to turn away from something you’re told you should enjoy. You’re going to feel EVERYTHING at first: anger, guilt, regret, fear, excitement, and maybe even a bit of nothing. Probably all at once. If you find yourself lost, paralysed and stuck in the depths of Instagram scrolling from cat video to cooking tutorials, don’t despair. It’ll pass, I promise.

But don’t forget the most important part of all: why. Why did you take the leap? Why are you motivated to chase it? Why are you striving for something new? Defining your purpose and motivations is key to navigating the turmoil of anxieties associated with change.

I don’t have all the answers yet, I’m still figuring it out. But, I think admitting that is all part of taking the next step towards something better.