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Slow down

Slow down

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Romy (22): “I am thinking about doing a second mater’s to increase my chances on the labour market. For the same reason, I am on the board of an association. I finance my study by working. I am exhausted and I wonder how long I can keep this up. Do I have a choice?”

Ingrid: “Slow down,” Douwe Bob sings. The singer-songwriter calls the song, with which he represented the Netherlands in the European Song Contest, a protest song. It was meant to be a complaint against our achievement-oriented society. A statement after my own heart. Dedication is widely expressed in size and numbers. Schools have marks and CITO scores, universities have exam grades. Health care has customer satisfaction figures, the commercial sector uses sales figures, in The Voice of Holland seats turn (or not), the list is endless. Achievement is what is expected of us and good is just not good enough. This is the message that we receive time and again. It feeds our idea that we are not good enough. This conviction is like fuel for our achievement engine. We drive and push ourselves until we drop. Chances of that happening are great, simply because we cannot keep up the pace at which we drive ourselves. The speed of our engine increases until the engine becomes overheated and gives up.

Being true to yourself is the greatest gift that you can give yourself. But to quit driving yourself and stepping off the achievement treadmill, while others continue to push themselves, requires courage. Recently Observant ran the heading “It takes courage to be a student these days”. Exactly. However, when you are no longer a student, you will also need courage to take good care of yourself and ensure that you don’t keep running along with others.

“It is a strange paradox: I can only change myself when I accept myself completely as I am,” said American psychologist and psychotherapist Carl Rogers. What would you do if you accepted yourself completely and would feel that you are good the way you are? Would you then choose to do a second master’s and keep the board position? Don’t get me wrong. Acceptance is not the same as resignation and passivity. You will most likely need money to support yourself, both now and later in life. But what about that board position? Become your own best friend; gather up all your courage in order to stop driving yourself, change to a lower gear. Take Douwe Bob’s advice and slow down. 

Ingrid Candel     

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