On the life you miss when you rush

When I was making myself pasta after school today, I found myself complaining about how long water takes to boil. “It takes a solid ten minutes for the water alone, and then you have to cook the pasta for another eight minutes after that!” I groaned to my mother, staring grumpily at the clock. As I sat there waiting for the water and lamenting the lack of Star Trek replicator technology in my kitchen, I started to wonder: what’s the rush?

Technology has warped the fabric of society—we now expect and require instant gratification. The need for speed started with communication, eventually spreading to every aspect of modern life. Food, from cream puffs to chicken cordon bleu, comes frozen and ready in ten minutes; you can buy makeup in a three-in-one color palette where a single swipe creates a smoky eye; the Internet is available anywhere on a smart phone, because posting those pictures simply can’t wait until later. The ten-minute workout, the breakfast shake, the protein bar: even healthcare must be lightning-fast. We live in a turbo-charged world, and it almost seems like we’re all rushing simply because we can.

The fact of the matter is, some of the best things in the world take time. You can live your whole life without experiencing it if you don’t stop every once in a while and appreciate your existence. Baking an apple pie from scratch, that takes time. You can complain and take the premade crust shortcut, or you can set aside a Sunday morning and enjoy the feeling of creating something delicious. Creating art, that takes time. You can try a sketch and throw down your pencil in frustration, or you can spend a while learning the basics and improving your technique over the years. Reading a book takes time. So does making a friend. Falling in love. Getting in shape. Learning a sport. Building a tree house. Even little things, like making a fresh pot of coffee, writing a letter, taking a walk. The world is full of shortcuts, but these things don’t happen right if you try to rush through them.

We are obsessed with results, and we are obsessed with having them as quickly as possible. No longer are people interested in the process, in the journey, in the why or the how. It’s sad, because these things are the beautiful part. Have you ever seen a time lapse of a flower in bloom? Sure, flowers are lovely, but the way they unfurl in the morning dew is breathtaking. And if you stick your head outside just before a summer storm, you can feel power hanging in the air. An author’s first draft is always about himself more than his characters, and the painstaking concentration on an artist’s face is often more telling than the finished painting. I like real, tangible books because when you put a long one down, you can feel the weight of the time you’ve spent in your palm. If you close your eyes and focus, you’ll begin to notice how hard your body is working just to keep you alive. I think that’s beautiful.

And maybe the process is a little messy, or confusing, or not as pretty as you’d like. But no one is born ready, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Often, the destination is the journey. We certainly learn more there than by admiring a finished product. So take a moment today to appreciate growth, praise sweat, and celebrate half-finished projects. Take those two extra minutes. Step out of your schedule. The universe won’t crash around your ears, I promise.

Currently Coveting

currently coveting 1

Sometimes, you just have to satisfy the materialist within you. Whether that be by treating yourself to something new or simply window shopping, it’s always fun to hunt for those odds-and-ends to put on your next wishlist. You’ve probably seen these types of posts on many a fashion and design blog before, and I’ve decided to hop on the bandwagon and create my own coveting collage. Because, well, they’re so cute to look at, no? I have boards and boards of inspiration on my Pinterest, which I am slightly addicted to.

  1. Vintage style light refraction pull-down chart via Etsy
  2. The Great Gatsby original book cover sweatshirt via Modcloth
  3. Cape via Hatch Collection (no longer available–inspiration)
  4. Smiling succulent or cacti planter via Etsy (currently sold out)

On NOT being superman

via pinterest

via pinterest

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure for people our age to do something unheard-of and spectacular to get anywhere in life. This unsaid social requirement pounds against my skull nearly every waking hour of the day. I’d like to be able to just be young, do what I love and enjoy my life, but it’s hard to breathe when it seems like most other bright and capable teenagers are superman. Some sixteen-year-old boy in another state is winning awards for scientific genius, while another is starting a unique and successful charity, and another has her photography published in newspapers. I recently read an article about one of my classmates concerning the basketball fundraiser she’s created to fund cancer research, due to her experience with cancer several years ago. It was inspiring at first to read about her amazing story and efforts, but then the article went a little something like “while most teenagers are worried about grades and summer jobs, Caite is focused on helping others.”

That pissed me off, for many reasons.

For one, the phrasing of that sentence makes it seem as if she’s impossibly compassionate and dedicated. I know Caite, I see her every day, and while she does dedicate much of her time to this cause, she’s also a human being. She worries about her math test and laughs with friends and goes shopping for prom dresses just like any “normal” girl our age. She’s doing amazing things, but she’s also doing normal things. I think that distinction is incredibly important to make.

Secondly, is there anything wrong with worrying about grades and summer jobs? I am a junior in high school. I am not financially independent. I’m not quite sure what I want to do with my life. In my opinion, my main concern right now is getting through school and trying my best. This time of my life is meant to be the time where I figure things out and pave the path of my future. As a teacher of mine used to say, I am a “full-time professional student.” I would really like to be just that, but I am constantly being bombarded with the overwhelming feeling that I have to make a name for myself at this age.

While I’m studying for an AP bio test, I find my thoughts straying to charity work and plans for finishing that novel I’ve started. When I pick up my camera, I feel like I’m taking the pictures for someone else to notice and appreciate and buy. My art has become impersonal, tailored to the tastes of the masses. My transcript is exemplary, but I feel as if I’ve learned nothing. I am a robot trying desperately to make myself interesting for colleges and employers and talent scouts and I hate it. It makes my head hurt.

Because I am a human being who’s just trying to figure it out, like everyone else in the world. I don’t have to be superman. I’d sure like to start a charity or publish a novel or run a marathon or cure cancer or open a business before I turn twenty, but I don’t have to. I probably won’t. I probably won’t be spectacular or famous or distinguished. I want to change people’s lives, sure, but at this point I can hardly get through the school day without exploding from anxiety and stress.

I greatly admire my friends who have already dedicated their lives to charity work or composing music or photojournalism. They’re saving lives and getting into Juilliard and being published in papers. I am just trying to keep myself afloat. Maybe some day I’ll be the sort of person who does yoga at sunrise, volunteers in soup kitchens in the evenings and teaches creative writing classes on Saturdays. But today I am letting myself be average.

Photoshoot: Kaysie

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of working work my beautiful friend Kaysie for a photoshoot. We explored several different concepts, and I have to say, this was probably the best shoot I’ve ever done! (Notwithstanding the many times I’ve modeled for Georgia, which I always love beyond belief.)

I’m somewhat of an introvert and terrible at keeping in touch with people (even those I see on a daily basis), so the only model I usually have is myself. It was so great to just be the photographer this time–it reminded me why I love this form of art so deeply. I’m hoping I can schedule more real shoots in the future!

The picture above is a little behind-the-scenes from the final part of our shoot. Kaysie is so cute and so much fun to work with! If you’d like to see more from this shoot or more of my photography in general, visit my Flickr. Hopefully I’ll have more to share in the coming months!