I was around 20 years old when I realised nothing I did, ever truly captured the entirety of my attention. It wouldn’t be until just after my 22nd birthday that I managed to link this to what I call my “spirit of urgency” and take the steps to release the hold this had on me.
My vibrant and colourful life was tinged grey by never sitting in those colourful moments. From watering my plants, to completing a piece of art, I was always thinking about the next thing on my to-do-list. Living in this state engulfed me, and I realised I was losing out on the joy and gratitude that was available to me. When viewing my life back, the great moments almost faded to black, forgotten in the storm of urgency.
It was only when loved ones would remind me of them, that I’d been forced to confront why I had forgotten them in the first instance. Human error and moments of memory loss could only account for a small proportion of them, and the heavier weight was carried by rushedly breezing through life as if it were one big to-do list. I had to stop. For once I was forced to sit directly in front of this thread that was woven into every garment of my life, and I decided it was time to cut it loose.
Start Untangling and Organising Your Daily Dealings
There are times where urgency is greatly necessary. Therefore, this wasn’t a journey of removing wholly toxic behaviour, but understanding where urgency is appropriate in my life. I began the process with a personal audit – combing through my day to day. I recall a day when my partner was telling me about a video he really enjoyed as my mind faded away into thinking about what time I would have to leave the house later. Or when I was laying in the dentist chair, mouth wide open, thinking about what was listed after this appointment on my to-do list.
In the instance that I had another important medical appointment soon after, urgency would’ve been fully appropriate in that moment but that was not the case. Though varying in intimacy, I was not fully present in both of these moments. I had robbed myself of the beauty of that by thinking about the future. And ultimately, I found that the cycle was endless when the future came, and I did the same thing with those moments too. This self discovery required extreme honesty and I realised I was rushing through life, fearing that I was running out of time.
Examine Urgency And The Way It Interacts with Your Community
Understanding the ‘why’ behind this, was a path I embarked on in therapy. As black women, we often carry our own weight plus the weight of others, and without adequate support. This is unsustainable. So, having external support and guidance helped to slowly reveal the goal posts. Therapy gave me the space to voice the insecurities I had of ‘slowing down,’ I thought younger me would have been disappointed. My therapist countered, “Would she not be relieved to see that you now have the opportunity to rest?”. In this non-judgmental space, I felt confident in continuing to understand my past, whilst working to improve my future.
As with most healing, having a community – whether that’s made up of friends, mental health professionals or family – is an essential foundation block. Not only do they provide kindness and love, but they are trusted people to hold you accountable in the most effective way.
Despite an increased awareness of the challenge I was facing, old habits die hard. Patience is a virtue I hold in the utmost importance due to my faith, but my relationship with patience was very hypocritical. On one hand, I liked to think I extended patience to those around me, but was incredibly impatient with myself and my own growth. It is a thin line to tread to have patience for others and not yourself but I soon realised that my perspective did not reflect the truth. I was just as impatient with others as I was with myself – the only difference being the way I displayed it. Urgency had weaved itself into my perception of my relationships, goals, and dreams. This was now bigger than rushing through breakfast whilst thinking about a meeting – this was causing long term impact on those I loved the most.
Be Present and Gracious Enough To Celebrate Every Win
Travelling along this road was producing hard hitting realities, so I had to remind myself of a few things. This urgent mindset had been a coping mechanism for many years, so dismantling it was going to take a long time too. I needed patience, love, and a judgement free mindset, to free myself from what had become the norm for all of my life. I celebrated the small wins, like enjoying a mindful meal, or by playing with my baby cousins and wholeheartedly immersing myself in their teddy bear tea party. Precious moments that would have once been lost in the tornado of rushed thoughts, are now held forever in my memory. Celebrating every instance I took back was key to this endeavour.
“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress” – Sophia Bush
Sharing this article was the cumulation of a lot of decision making. From the initial decision to battle this urgency, to feeling valid in telling my story. I had this concern that providing insight and advice from an ‘unfinished’ place was irresponsible, that my story should only be told once I have successfully conquered it forever and I was managing my life perfectly.
However, that reality is not even remotely realistic. I am a work in progress and that is the joy of healing. The joy comes from the fact that every single day is an opportunity to be better than the last. Everyone’s experiences with urgency are different, and the progress you make is to be celebrated, no matter how big or small. In an effort to lead a life with balance, start with a few thoughts and questions:
- What does urgency mean for you?
Identifying the ‘symptoms’ of an urgent mindset is a great way to start on this journey. Perhaps you related to my own inciting incidents, or some events in your own life seem reflective of an urgency mindset.
- What would your ideal balance of urgency and mindfulness be?
As I mentioned, some aspects of life require urgency but many don’t. Examine how your life would look with that balance struck and what small steps can be taken to get closer to that reality.
- Who will be your support system?
From partners, to health professionals, having people who are aware of your journey is a way to surround yourself with compassion and understanding. A vital aspect of support however, is the love and kindness you must extend yourself during this time – so remember to be patient with your growth.
Of course, there are moments, sometimes days or even weeks, where I find myself back in a familiar place of urgency but I have become more mindful than I could have ever imagined. The difference now is the ‘after’ – where I feel like I am on a more fruitful journey and genuinely captivated by life’s beautiful moments. I hope you feel less alone in understanding urgency in your life and now have the tools to live a little fuller.
Samantha Dube is a multi media artist living and working in the UK. Sam's professional passions and experiences lie in education, eclectic design and content production. Sam's leisurely passions lie in rollerskating, dog-grooming, painting and being the dinner hostess with the mostess.