Helena Arjuna Suter

what about the other curves we need to flatten?

The problem? There is no problem.

I hit the gym first thing after work. I don’t know if I’m out of breath because of the treadmill or because I left the office in a hurry to catch the train, to catch the tram, to exercise, to get groceries. At least I’m out of breath. I must be doing something, right? I have an hour left to shower and get to bed. I just need to respond to messages and prep the next day. And fit that mindfulness session in, too. What a successful day. I feel confident about where my life is heading.

On my last day of work before lockdown, I concluded that my neighbor’s 6am music session surely contributes to the anxiety I feel. I know for a fact that lack of sleep increases anxiety and negatively impacts productivity. What a prick.

Striking a balance between yin energy and yang energy — my nurturing, intuitive self and my assertive, go-getter self — has always been important to me. I was so on it: scheduled mindfulness sessions, journaling. Woke. I dance, too. Learning moves teaches me how to surrender my mind to my intuition. I see mistakes as progress, not failure, and can muster up the courage to keep trying after countless wrong moves and missed beats. I connect to myself.

During my recent mid-year review, my boss commented on my personal development goal of patience: “When you’re in a hurry, the first thing to do is sit down.” This hit a nerve because I know that. So, there is a problem.

Stop bragging about the lack of sleep you get.
Maxing out my days was fun until rest became scarce, difficult to enjoy, and filled with guilt. But anxiety invites itself into life like a creeper. “Aren’t you motivated?!” “You can do more, just be more resilient.” Connecting to my yin energy was fulfilling; it served a purpose, to maintain levels of drive, efficiency and productivity, passion and ambition. I was wrong.

The lockdown unveiled my eyes. With time to rest and reflect more deeply, I processed. I experienced solitude and silence. I am present. Checking in. Mindfulness and connecting to myself isn’t a goal to reach, another box to tick. Balance doesn’t result from one, two or three dance classes, either. My yin energy doesn’t cater to my yang energy, it complements it. They are integrated. Embracing my yin as much as I do my yang is more powerful, more fulfilling: I nurture myself and stay connected to myself. I am more authentic because I trust to look out for myself. I can focus on the moment and connect to others more freely. I create in a state of flow, not force. A slight change opens the sky, invites the sun, clears the fog.

My new normal.
Leading from within is living with a sense of dignity. The new normal means working on new sets of beliefs and habits that I take more seriously. I stop believing that slowing down means getting less done. I stop relying on pure stamina for motivation and creation to achieve my goals. I understand that a calm, present mind and rested body increase my productivity and empathy. I raise my awareness of the present moment to connect with myself and others. I give myself more time to provide clarity. I can spend more energy on meaningful, constructive, and fun collaboration. I become more attentive and purpose-driven in my immediate actions, less forceful in the short term, and more sustainable in the long term.

This also means prioritizing, learning to say no, knowing what to leave incomplete, and feeling comfortable with imperfection. It means being patient but finding courage to speak up at the right time.

I sit down. I tell my neighbor to please turn down the music.

© Helena Arjuna Suter

Helena Arjuna Suter is a Swiss-American millennial who grew up in France and now lives in Zurich, Switzerland. As a junior portfolio manager in tech, she innovates and develops its service portfolio offering and actively drives the company’s digital and cultural transformation. In her free time, she complements her passion for business by reflecting on her experiences through writing, storytelling, and soon podcasting.