Column: Slowing Down

Palmen Slow Down
©artwork by Charles Bals / Another Slang

A two-and-a-half month break: no office, no deadlines, no meetings, or appointments. Just me and my life? But what would that look like? And how many obstacles would I have to overcome to find out? That’s what went through my mind when I left a great job, one in which I might have been losing myself a little over the past four years.

I needed to zoom out and gain some perspective, so I took a trip to New York. London followed, along with one question coursing through my mind: Do I want to stay in Berlin? If I was to start over, now was the time to hit the reset button, set my gaze firmly toward the future, and face new challenges along with everything they bring with them.

Countless runs through Berlin’s Tiergarten park helped me arrive at my first realization: Stay home for now. Extended periods of sleep, an absent alarm clock, and some health issues all did their part to usher in a welcome slowness. It’s all good, my subconscious wheezed at me every day, growing increasingly bored because—get this—my deceleration wasn’t happening fast enough.

My friends did a lovely job helping me stay distracted, meeting me for coffee and a stroll around the block without any pretext to leave after an hour. But really, no one distracted me; instead, we just enjoyed each other’s company. Quality time as a luxury commodity—who would have thought that it would come to this? Perhaps my desk wasn’t a sacred place after all, nor was optimized efficiency a surefire guarantee for happiness. Go ahead, make a mistake, call it a day, or spend several hours reading the newspaper. Not in the scrolled, RSS feed mode I had become used to but article for article. Let your phone die without rushing home to plug it in, forget your to-do list for a few days. Let’s all SLOW DOWN.

The more I checked out of day-to-day office life, the more I realized that much of what we see all day really doesn’t matter all that much. Very few things born out of fashion or media make my heart leap with joy or still consume my thoughts a few days later. And suddenly, it occurred to me: Just do it! Shift into a lower gear. Surely, the lessons I had gleaned from my beloved meditation App, Headspace, could offer me a new daily direction at work. Then I met Veronika and we agreed on so much—and constructively disagreed on the rest—that we found ourselves going at our own, shared pace that defied entrenched habits. Patience, be with us. After all, it’s been by our side all along.

P.S. Recommended reading: Vestoj Magazin devoted its fifth issue to this very subject. “On Slowness” is available at Do You Read Me in Berlin.

Translation: Sophie Schulte-Hillen

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.