Column: Accepting the chaos

© Franziska Steinle

Julia Knolle has decided to not be so strict with herself, even if that means letting a bit of chaos into an otherwise structured routine

Order and structure: nothing I love more. We are creatures of habit. A regular weekly routine helps to make targeted decisions – without overthinking and questioning everything all the time. It’s nothing miraculous; it’s simply a concept that has been proven, that provides results.

That said, it’s also true that one’s own ambition is a welcome motivator for getting things done. The joy of crossing things off the to-do list: you crave that list of checked-off little boxes  – ideally by Friday at 11:30, right before lunch (and you work for it like a little hamster in a wheel). Having no obligations seems like it guarantees – and maybe even causes – a state of pure relaxation.

Because once everything is done, then you are free to concentrate on the good things in life. Making no plans for once and, instead, “just” reading for hours on end or going to the gym without looking at the clock. Last week as I was outside in the cold, leaving the office after a long day, I thought to myself: What am I doing here, actually? Shouldn’t I be on the sofa? Just doing NOTHING for once? My body was longing for peace, my head a mess. I asked myself: Isn’t this neurotic, this need to do things?

I admire people who can do break free of it. “I’ll do that tomorrow,” and really tune it out, not getting anxious because the car isn’t washed, and the laundry isn’t folded. The more you let yourself meticulously, perfectionistically complete everything immediately, the less able you are to accept any amount of chaos – is my theory, at least.

There have been a lot of changes lately at hey woman! Deep inside me, a voice has been saying, “Great! Finally, something is happening!” A new challenge, bringing new life into old structures and routines. Finding solutions (another hobby of mine, by the way)! There’s no problem that will get the better of me… Not!

What I learned relatively quickly: I needed to learn to change my thinking in order to reach the goal. Ugh, getting down to business once again at 35: where am I maybe not responding correctly? Which lines of thought might need a refresher – without calling my entire character into question or completely turning myself upside down? How does one confidently go through this process without occasionally not having the faintest idea what they’re doing?

And yes, I would love to keep going to the gym five times a week, for example, as I’ve wanted (and planned). But after a 14-hour work day, I just don’t know how that is supposed to happen. How can I make myself wide awake in the morning so that I’m in the office no later than 8:30 a.m. without drinking coffee? How much would I love to know exactly which announcement the team needs at any given moment? Or, how do I manage to really answer every email by the end of the day in a nice, friendly, and professional way? And what do I gain by then wasting my energy on the “not perfect” things instead of just letting them be, trusting that there will be a time when I’ll be back on top of things?

Ideally, after sitting with my best friend or after some mindful, caring soul searching, I’ll be able to laugh it off the next morning, realizing that sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. Which pillars are there to offer me stability for the rest of the adventure? “Don’t be so strict with yourself” is probably the biggest lesson of the next 365 (minus 40) days. Let’s see what the next few months have in store for me. Maybe I’ll really print out Alexandra Kruse’s sacred yearly horoscope and hang it on the wall. Bring it on, new, dynamic 2018!

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.