Saturday, July 30, 2016

I Am Slow, And That’s Okay

“You need to work with more urgency.”

You’re kidding, right?

This about sums up my annual reviews from when I was working in retail. Every time it was the same.

I didn’t know it then, but turns out I wasn’t just a lazy worker. My disability did make me a bit slower, but I was more thorough and detail-oriented than many of my co-workers.

Unfortunately, what was considered more important in that workplace was speed.
Now that I think about it, speed is highly valued in our society. Good quality work is still important, but it’s expected to be done quickly or by a certain deadline.

panic attack
I have weird relationship with deadlines…

I would always beat myself up for not finishing on time. And I did that a lot, even with small things like laundry or cooking meals by a certain hour. It has been difficult for me not to feel rushed, even if no one is waiting on me, like when I am getting ready to go out on a quick errand (it takes me an hour to get out of the house). I get frustrated at myself for even being late for my own lunch + TV break, on my own schedule, when it really doesn’t matter.

When I get up in the morning and go about my routine, I notice how  s l o w l y  I walk, even when I feel energetic. I can force my body to go faster, but it feels unnatural and makes me anxious, as well as making me dizzy and giving me headrushes.

I would notice how it took my mom 15 minutes to do a quick surface-cleaning of the kitchen, while I would take an hour cleaning it thoroughly (I cannot bring myself to surface-clean).

It always bothered me how dreadfully slow I am compared to other people, how I couldn’t complete work on time, react quickly enough to social opportunities, etc.


Moon Flowers
This is just one example of what I create, from my various hobbies.

I sold this flowerpot for $10 (originally $15 but I gave a discount). I made it from scratch using various materials. How long do you think it took to make?

Well, $15 at minimum wage would cover about 1 1/2 hours of work.

It takes me 6-15 hours to make these flowerpots.

So, I have to sacrifice far more time and energy than the average person to get things done.

But the end result is worth it. I have been told that I am talented at what I do, and that once I take interest in a new hobby, I quickly become good at it.

Thing is, I am able to do that because I am slow, or as I ought to call it, “zen.” My natural zen pace allows me to focus on details and really establish them in my brain, rather than practicing with numerous (excuse my French) half-assed attempts. I want to do things right the first or second time, or I’d feel sorry for the half-assed creations that only served as a stepping stone.

In addition, my work leaps in quality the more I practice, since every attempt is relaxed, focused, and thorough.

Hence the huge difference between my first and second feature films:


Between these, I did get a bit of practice with (unfortunately) half-assed video projects in college, because taking forever to complete them wasn’t an option.

But I learned far more from pursuing larger film projects at my zen pace, than from many smaller projects at a rapid pace.


Getting caught up in fast lane is practically normal. There is far too much pressure to keep up! But when was the last time you slowed down? And who says you have to spend every moment in “work mode”?

Even if you are required to work, you don’t have to give in to the idea that your life is just work. It is possible to slow down, even if it’s simply taking a few minutes to appreciate something. Like…

Leaves rustling in the wind. The puffiness of the clouds. The aroma of your favorite food. The colors all around you. The beauty of a human being.

Even if you’re busy, you are capable of enjoying these things. There are so many details to appreciate, even at workplaces you don’t like, or with people you’re not fond of, or environments that aren’t ideal to you.

Even if you can’t slow your life, you can slow your mind. It’s like exploring deeper in the ocean—you’re bound to find some rarities not yet discovered!

In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with slowing down.
Society seems to tell us that living at a million miles an hour is normal, but it takes a toll on the quality of our work and our lives. Creativity flourishes when we go at our own pace, rather than forcing it into a box of expectations.

So now I can say…

I am slow, and that’s okay.

In a chaotic world, I accept my zen and all the treasures I find along the way.


  1. Funny, I just changed my saying on FB to "slow and steady wins the race of life." Similar ideas. I totally agree with you, and experience these same things daily.

    1. I think slow and steady should BE the race of life. Or at least one lane of the life-race, so the crazy go-getters will have their own space to run as fast as they want to.

  2. You're not slow, you're taking your time.

    1. In sense, perhaps. I CAN go faster if I want to, but it puts a lot of stress on my body. I think many other "slow" people are this way too.

  3. I just realized that i am very slow an methodical. But I am very detail oriented. The detail oriented & methodical helped me at work,
    I never thought of myself as slow, i spent my adult life alone except for two horrible attempts at relationships. Looking back, me being slow was one of the aspects that really pissed off my exes.
    I have only been on adhd meds for last 4 years, so had no bearing on my first ex 26 years ago.

    1. I'm sorry to hear they turned out that way--the right person will be patient, or even better, go at your pace. The important thing though, is that you accept your own pace and find your strength in it, like being detail-oriented.

  4. I do agree that speed is over-valued in today's society, often at the expense of accuracy and/or quality. I was lucky in that I have rarely been rushed past my pace, but since I am also details-oriented, my tasks will often run slowly.

    1. That's great that you are rarely rushed! Now that I'm no longer working in retail, I'm not rushed much nowadays (aside from getting out the door when we go somewhere).

  5. Great post and posts, I find them very insightful, well put and honest in a positive way. I especially like this one about going at our own zen paces. Something I find myself having to remember when like you said "we feel the world expects us to go faster and faster".

    1. Thank you :) I love the word "zen" in general and still use it, to remind myself to look for the "zen" among all the fast-paced expectations.