Nowadays, everything we want, do, or even think about is fast paced. We want a quick search on Google to give us answers. Faster internet connection. The quickest online delivery service. The speediest transportation. Despite this admiration for speed, I am slow. Very slow.
I don’t know if this may just be another trait of my introverted personality, or another characteristic but it has been defining other people’s perception of me for a very long time. Think about the last time you called someone slow. Did you mean it as an insult? Perhaps not. But, just like overconsumption of anything can be harmful, repeatedly saying the same thing to someone can turn it damaging for the person on the receiving end.
I’ve always thought there are different types of slow people. But when I say I am slow, I mean having a slow and steady take on life. It means choosing to wake up at 6am for a 9am lecture just so I can spend 20-30 minutes in the shower and not feel rushed. It means leaving the house half an hour before the lecture so I enjoy my walk from Canley to the Oculus admiring the weather. It means beginning to prepare for May exams in January because I know I take the opposite of shortcuts when revising: writing and reading lots but at my own slow pace.
I joined university hoping to love my time making colourful chemicals but slowly this all changed
I’ve discussed some examples of how I am slow but also how I have been playing with time to deal with this. Indeed, being slow only means that I start what others do a little earlier so I may still finish on time. But, this approach failed at university with my laboratory sessions.
Chemistry lab sessions are time-bound and there is a protocol with a set of instructions to be followed and results and other data to be collected which are required for the post-lab assessments. I joined university hoping to love my time making colourful chemicals but slowly this all changed, as my own slowness began to get in the way.
Within my lab-group, too often I find myself the last one washing up my equipment while my labmates bid me goodbye. Some people already have their water baths heating up while I am still meditating upon the rest sentence in the protocol to make sure I have read it correctly, for the third time. I have never run out of time in my labs in the two years that I have spent experimenting but the comments on my slowness have always been there. There is always a sense of guilt to see the demonstrators having to wait only for me when all my other lab mates have left. I have gone from adoring labs to becoming rather scared of them.
While we may emphasise that “slow and steady wins the race” this is very rarely applied in everyday life
Being slow is not a disorder, but just another aspect of one’s personality. While I often have it suggested otherwise, it is not something I see as a personal fault that I need to repair. I love my slow walks, my long showers and the moments in the lab when I forget everything else and it is just me and my experiment.
But, this society encourages acceleration, whatever the activity. While we may emphasise that “slow and steady wins the race” this is very rarely applied in everyday life. However, for some, there is no race in life. For me, I will continue living life as if there is no hurry to get out of the shower, to get to the destination, to finish making that compound in the lab and head home.