Life: Slowing it Down

Hiking in Shenandoah National Park

Seven months ago, I graduated college. Three months ago, I moved to Washington D.C. and began working at my very first full-time job. When I meet up with college friends, they always probe and ask, “What crazy adventure do you have planned next, Ms. 7 Continent World Traveler? Are you tired of work in corporate America yet?”

If I were on auto-pilot, my response would sound like this: “My job is just a job, I get paid which is nice, but but soul-sucking corporate America sucks. The long-term goal is to embrace my inner wanderlust, travel the world, realize my true passion and purpose, start my own non-profit, and live happily ever…”

Instead, my response is much shorter: “I have a job I really enjoy, with a good amount of responsibility and opportunity for growth. Outside of work, I’m experimenting, defining new boundaries, and I’m… taking it slow.”

Unlike college where I lived on campus with 40,000 other undergraduates and filled my calendar with endless events, responsibilities, and to-dos, post-graduate life is much different. Since starting work, I’ve committed to very little these past three months which has been both refreshing and different.

I get to sign up for healthcare, pay rent, read financial magazines, and explore free museums at my leisure. Some evenings are spent going out with friends and other nights are spent doing other fulfilling and enjoyable activities. As a young adult in her early twenties, I am very grateful that my life is simultaneously unnerving, wonderful, and liberating. My privilege has brought me to a new city, job, and environment brimming with ease and opportunity.

A few of my favorite moments include:

  1. Attending a holiday party filled filled with people I had never met before: volunteers focused on fighting modern day slavery, human trafficking.
  2. Listening to social activists and artists speak about the housing crisis and zoning law reform.
  3. Biking ten miles to buy a pair of new running shoes to support a local business instead of clicking the 2-day shipping option online.

There was one night when I bought a can of french fried onions and that tipped the scale 100% towards eating-in/making my own food/cooking at home. Growing up, French fried onions used to be reserved only for green bean casserole during Thanksgiving. For a week straight, I put french fried onions on every dish I made, just because I felt like it. Sometimes the sheer “spontaneity” of choice is wonderful.

With no mortgage, no dependents, no spouses, and no looming adult responsibilities, I tell people that I have all the time in the world and no where in particular to be.

I can also afford to travel slowly, especially with regards to public transportation. It is a win for someone who enjoys people watching and letting my mind wander, a win for the city, and a win for the environment!

The other day while waiting for a train on the metro, a man asked me how my day was going, which sparked a brief conversation. As we were chatting, I complimented his very warm-looking knitted hat. He told me someone knitted his hat for him. I pointed to my hat and smiled. We were twins! A friend made the hat I was wearing on my head too.

I know slowing things down is not super radical or revolutionary. There has never been a burning desire to compete for the top spot, scramble up the corporate ladder, or become an Olympian of my craft. It’s interesting to read those stories of success and sacrifice, but I haven’t found my reason to commit to that kind of all-consuming sacrifice… yet. Convincing myself that my future ambitions should be prioritized over my present content self is difficult. For now, slowing down my life feels like a way to help align my focus for the future.

A couple weeks ago, a friend from Atlanta was in D.C. for work assignment and so we met in DC and proceeded to catch up with each other. Somewhere in the middle of our delicious dinner he said, “Taylor, you’re like a leaf in the wind.”

I smiled back.


How about you? How slow or fast does your life feel?