By Sonam Rikha ‘24
I feel like I’ve been sprinting these past five years, thinking that if I stop, I’ll trip and fall. Growing up, my parents emphasized two things: “Education comes first” and “Take advantage of every opportunity.” When I started my first year of high school I clung onto these phrases and made sure to fill my schedule with difficult classes and many extracurriculars. This scarcity mindset, of nothing ever being enough, caused me constantly to say “yes” to opportunities instead of considering the mental toll it would take to do so much. Attending a hyper-competitive high school pushed me, constantly forcing me to focus on the future rather than the present. After graduating high school, leaving behind all of the work I’d done was difficult but exciting. College was going to be a fresh slate, where I could explore new interests and passions.
While I knew that starting my first year of college online would impact my involvement in the Pomona community, I chose to skip over any possible doubts I had and sign up for way too many extracurricular clubs and mentorship programs. The urge to get involved in as many activities or opportunities possible surged. Even though I was warned to not commit to many clubs my first semester of college, I chose to ignore this advice. I wanted to expose myself to different Pomona communities and connect with other students online. The excited thrill of seeing a wave of student faces from all over the world on my laptop screen slowly turned into another exhausting zoom call. Zoom fatigue is real, and by the middle of my first semester I knew that if I didn’t drop some of my extracurriculars I would end up like the humans in Wall-E.
Out of fear that I would become a lethargic zombie, I did something that I hadn’t done in years—I slowed down.
And no, I didn’t face plummet into the ground or crash. Instead, I felt free and happier. Living in a society where working nonstop is praised while taking time for yourself is looked down upon, it was difficult for me to stay in the present and mentally and physically take care of myself. Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing or completely abandoning your academic or extracurricular activities. To me, it means focusing your energy on fewer things and finding balance between your academic, social, and/or work lives.
To stay away from my phone and emails, which have consumed my life, I’ve decided to embrace my inner grandma. These past three weeks I’ve been reclaiming my time—time that was once spent overthinking my future or aimlessly scrolling on Instagram—by knitting and crocheting my heart out. Although my family makes fun of me, and my friends question why I spend hours knitting, I feel strangely liberated. When I’m not listening to a podcast or audiobook while knitting, I just let my thoughts wander. As a result, my creativity has peaked, and I’ve come up with some of the wildest and most fascinating story ideas.
Slowing down may seem like a hindrance to immediate success, and you may feel like you could be more “PRODUCTIVE,” but, in reality, slowing down reaps many benefits and opens opportunities for reflection. In some ways slowing down can be a privilege, so if you have the time, I highly recommend it!