TAKING LIFE ADVICE FROM A SNAIL

The other day, I was running down the stairs at work and my shoe fell off. Like, one second it was there, the next I had walked out of it and left it on a step. I won’t lie to you: it was quite an embarrassing time for me, partly because I did an alarmed sort of jump when I realised it had happened, like a startled hare, but mostly because a second afterwards I said “OH, LIKE CINDERELLA!” out loud and the man walking past gave me a weird look. Hoorah!

In retrospect, it was probably my shoes that were the problem. They cost me approximately £6.50 a year or two ago and they are honestly diabolical – thin-soled to the extent that if I walk on anything other than grass it feels a bit like I am strolling over a bed of nails with a few plugs thrown in for good measure. The faux-leather has become baggier over recent months and my toes are permanently clenched to stop my absurdly shallow feet from slipping out every time I leave the house. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’M SORRY. Maybe I SHOULD have let you buy me Clarks shoes until the end of time like you wanted. MAYBE I SHOULD.

I’d like to continue my story, but that was it and there’s not much more to say. Awkward moment followed by Disney reference, AKA every day of my life. However, if there was going to be any kind of moral behind it (other than BUY SHOES THAT FIT, YOU MORON), I would probably opt for something along the lines of: JUST SLOW DOWN, SOPHIE. Stop running on the stairs! Calm yourself and WALK, before you end up flying head-first into the potted plants on the ground floor.

There is a lot to be said for remembering to walk. Running is fine when it’s appropriate, of course – if you are in a park or can see the doors of the number 27 bus closing or something – but if not, I find there is a strange, stress-relieving comfort in actively making an effort to slow your body down.

I’ve noticed that I do it without trying on calmer days. I will pick things up in a more controlled kind of a way, and place them down without banging them on the table by accident. I’ll lower myself onto my seat instead of heavily collapsing into it and then thinking “Ow.” My actions – how I move, how I get from A to B – are kind of measured and I don’t feel rushed to get things done.

On days where my brain is fretful and anxious, this is not the case. I slam cupboard doors, whizz around like Taz (REMEMBER TAZ??) and occasionally swear at inanimate objects for having the AUDACITY to fall out of my hand at the exact moment when I wanted to use them! These are the days where it would be mighty helpful if I just decided to go slow-mo for a bit, but I’m still learning how to get better at that.

Do you ever find that you rush in other ways, too? Like FOR EXAMPLE, I have noticed since the dawn of time that I hurry to speak quite a lot, as if I’m worried that the person I’m talking to will get bored and say YOUR TIME IS UP or something (spoiler: I kind of am). I have always quietly resented (/been jealous of) people in the workplace who say “Sophie?” and then wait thirty seconds after I say “Yes?” to actually tell/ask me what they wanted to – because it’s like jeez, how nonchalant can you be? They are that sure that no-one else will begin talking instead that they leave a dramatic pause JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN. I mean, maybe they are also reading a zillion unanswered emails at the same time, but you’ve got to hand it to them.

I rush to answer questions, too, and am trying to train myself to stop it. You know when you were at secondary school and one of the popular girls would be like “SO, have you kissed your new boyfriend yet???” and you’d be there thinking “OH! WHAT A CONUNDRUM! HOW EVER DO I RESPOND?”? Here is a very important lesson I have learned since then:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER ANY QUESTION IF YOU DON’T WANT TO.

There are some exceptions to the rule, like, if you want the job you’re currently being interviewed for then you should probably have a think about The Last Time You Used Your Initiative In A Group Situation, even though it’s the hardest and cheesiest thing to talk about. There are some others, too, I’m sure. But you still get a choice along the way, and hopefully providing an answer to these questions will give you something in return, e.g. a job.

But as for Year 9 responses to Becky’s quizzing? PSSH. You don’t owe Becky shit. I was about to write out a list of snarky replies for us to wrap in a hug and send to our teenage selves, but then I stopped, because THAT’S THE POINT, Becky doesn’t deserve for us to sit here thinking about potential comebacks. We can literally just ignore her. We don’t have to answer anything unless we’d actually like to. We can say “No” or “Let me get back to you on that” or plain old NOTHIN’ AT ALL.

It was my mom who told me this a couple of years ago. At first I was like “Why so delayed Julie, I could have used this revelation back in 2005,” but she said that she had only recently realised it herself, which made me understand that lots of people struggle with this kind of thing and that it wasn’t just a unique-to-Sophie problem.

Last year my babe of a boyfriend bought me a little plush snail, which I promptly happy-cried over and named Percy. Percy lives in our kitchen now, looking down at us while we cook (“NO ESCARGOT, PLS” – Percy, 2017) and reminding me to slow down a bit. Like, that is literally why he was purchased – so I could catch his little snaily eye, think “Aw, PERCY” and then remember that nothing bad is going to happen if I take a bit longer to say or do something.

cute-mini-Sumikkogurashi-snail-plush-toy-by-San-X-198960-1

Bonjour, Percy!

And in all seriousness, he has helped me a lot. Sometimes I see him when I am trying to reply to 125 WhatsApps while cooking some pasta and doing three washloads, and then I think “Hmm. Perhaps I can reply to these later.” Other things help, too: I read an article the other day about how turning off your phone notifications can make a big difference to that social-media-flashy-screen-ahh-just-leave-me-alone-for-5-minutes-please-internet stress we all seem to have nowadays, so I have PAID HEED and my phone is a lot quieter now. I am also trying to talk a little more slowly in certain situations, which I would imagine makes me sound like Siri’s slightly confused cousin. Kiri, perhaps. But there’s no harm in giving it a go, right? At this exact moment I am sitting in the sun, feeling the wind on my ankles and breathing properly. Maybe later I will ~surf the net~ for some new shoes, ones that don’t fall apart after three weeks of use. Or maybe I’ll just stop running down the stairs in them. Who knows.

P.S. If you ever needed a sign that you should buy your own plush snail, HERE IT IS. You won’t regret it, pals.

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