Time gives you clarity. It allows you to gather your thoughts and sort them into categories helpful, harmful, realistic, overdramatic. Time gives you space to move and room to grow. It helps you break down old barriers and open new doors. There’s a lot that time can do for you… if you choose to let it.
Maybe time is unreachable for you today – your life’s spinning too fast to grab hold of it. Or maybe you’re not letting time in – purposely pushing distraction into your days to avoid facing the proposals time might have for you.
Two months ago I forced myself to let time in. I resigned from my job, disconnected from my daily routine, left my city sharehouse and moved into my parents’ home while they were away on holidays. Putting my busy life on pause was one of the hardest things I’ve done but undoubtedly one of the best.
I’ve always been an overachiever. Working myself to the bone was nothing short of a necessity. Three jobs, two internships, full-time study and endless volunteer work would only scratch the surface, I always wanted more. More opportunities to learn, to grow, to be a better person, to pull more fulfilment from life.
This type of existence always worked for me. I was happy being busy, I enjoyed the rush of contentment that came from mastering new skills or entering new places of work. Moreso, I loved sharing my contentment with others; reminding them that life is fickle and fleeting but we’re all it in together so we may as well have a good time.
It wasn’t until last year that I started using my fast-paced life negatively, to detract and distract rather than learn and grow. A few curve balls were thrown at myself and those I love, creating cracks in my contentment. I thought I could fix them by shoving more positivity in, but it was rarely genuine and greatly assisted by alcohol. My weekdays grew long and inherently stressful, my weekends short and full throttle. I was constantly tired and lacking motivation. I was also relying heavily on others for my happiness, which hit me incredibly hard when three of my closest friends moved cities.
Instead of stopping and allowing myself the time to heal, I kept pushing away the notion that anything was wrong. I kept on as the outrightly happy human people knew me to be. If I could be a deliverer of joy for others, surely my own would find its way back?
It wasn’t as though I was living a complete lie. There were times when pure, sober happiness trickled through my veins, as I danced stupidly with a friend or spoke about my passions with another. But the unfaced fears and undealt with emotions always lingered.
When I made the decision to leave my job I felt instantly lighter. I was excited to switch tracks, start fresh and put last year’s dark chapter behind me.
Alone on one acre on the outskirts of Toowoomba for one month. Nothing but chirping birds, whistling wind and my parents’ dogs barking at the postman once a week. A slight adjustment from the bustling streets of New Farm / Fortitude Valley.
Having the time to think more clearly meant facing memories I’d been swatting away for months, but also revisiting happy ones I’d skimmed over in my negative state. It meant digging around for the self-love I’d lost grip of and, in doing so, finding strengths I didn’t know I’d grown. Of course, one month isn’t enough time to clear out all the cobwebs but it was enough to step back and see them in full light. And for a mind that was stuck on fast forward for so long, it was the perfect amount of pause.
Endnote: Burnout is common amongst young people who strive to fit a lot into their lives, and doesn’t necessarily have to start with trauma or grief. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or as though you’re losing sight of your inhibitions, know that it might be time to take a step back and slow things down a little.