I kicked off the year 2023 on a last-minute trip to Europe with my older sister. Before leaving, I remember scrambling to finish my design projects to close out another semester. Fast-approaching deadlines on multiple large projects had me feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and exhausted. When talking with my peers at the Iowa State University of Design, I was comforted to find out that I was not the only one struggling. Together we spent long days at a local cafe pushing each other through one project at a time. When the time came to submit everything, I was more than ready to wrap up my second to last college semester and was prepared to embark on my first European adventure.
While traveling between Amsterdam, Paris, and London, I fell in love with the way the Europeans seemed to embrace a slower way of life. From sitting for hours enjoying deep conversations over strong espresso and warm croissants to wandering aimlessly around new cities; I found myself feeling so in touch with myself and those around me. I went to bed each night, reflecting on all of the joy-filled moments experienced throughout the day. At the end of the trip, I looked at my sister and told her I wasn’t ready to go home yet. As the world’s biggest homebody, this came as a huge surprise to her. But there was something about this experience that made me feel like a child again, free to wander and free of stress. It recharged me from my burnout, opened my eyes to new ideas, made me curious, and inspired me to want to create again.
Returning from Europe I was challenged with my final design project, the capstone. After debating countless topics for a solution to a world problem, it hit me. My experience really had crystallized the feeling I was seeking, I decided my solution would be to create an elevated tea brand. This brand would enable people to express their inner child and dreamer mentality.
I wanted to create this brand to remind people to slow down and connect with themselves and the people they love most. As much as Americans thrive off of feeling productive and love to cross things off the to-do list; it’s important for people to make time for themselves too. If everyone keeps going and pushing as hard as we do; it’s easy to find ourselves burnt out and overwhelmed. We all have been there: we get stuck, it’s hard to come up with any new ideas, and it feels like there are a million tasks that need to be completed with no time to do them all.
In this process, we forget who we are and end up feeling defeated, with no direction. I know for me and my design peers we are back in that hustle and grind mode. We have been at the cafe every day tirelessly working on our capstones, designing the capstone show, and finishing our internships. One of the cafe workers even jokingly asked us when we were moving in because we are here that often.
As easy as it is to get wrapped into the hustle culture I’ve found the importance of taking a second to remember the reason behind everything I’m doing. I know the same is for a lot of the entrepreneurs here in the incubator at UNeTech. We all started with excitement and a purpose but after working countless hours on our projects the fun starts to wear off, the burnout kicks in, and our once full-of-passion project seems like a chore. So here is your reminder to slow down, connect with those you love, and simply enjoy life.
For me, this has been going on walks before my day starts. This makes me feel better about sitting in front of my computer all day and doesn’t make me as sad when I’m not enjoying the nice weather in the afternoons. It’s even better when your friends want to join you. I also make sure to hang out with my design friends outside of just doing schoolwork and Facetime with my sisters on their lunch breaks. Whatever it may be for you that helps you slow down, reconnect with those you love, and reminds you who you are outside of your busy life, it’s essential to do more of it.