Dear Rachel,

I was born two months premature and haven’t stopped since. What I mean is, I’m always, always early—I’ll show up at a wedding even before the bride and groom. I do everything quicker than almost anyone I know, which makes me impatient. I am one of those people who gets things done yesterday, even when II’m always, always early procrastinate. I talk so quickly that if I’m transmitting information, people always ask me to repeat myself. I hate wasting time and abhor when people waste mine. I have no patience for bureaucracy or due process. I’m not trying to be difficult; it’s just that I function at a much quicker pace than most other people, but they see me as impatient and demanding. And they get put off by my alacrity, impatience and full-speed-ahead attitude. I don’t mind my speed; it’s just that it can be frustrating playing on fast-forward when everyone else seems to be in slow motion.

Can’t Pace Herself

Dear Fast-Paced,

Alacrity is one of the characteristics that the Talmud lists as an important tool in serving G‑dCreation has a lot of opposites (Avodah Zarah 20b). Pirkei Avot 5:23 (“Ethics of Our Fathers”) tells us to be swift as a deer when serving G‑d. So the trait of being fast is a positive attribute as long, of course, as you’re not rushing and making mistakes by hurrying. Being on time, being on deadline (or early) is a great gift that you shouldn’t disdain.

Creation has a lot of opposites: water and fire, darkness and light, and it also features fast- and slow-moving creatures. The tortoise and the sloth are as necessary to creation as the squirrel and the leopard. They all serve a different Divine purpose.

I understand your frustration because things work by process, things take time, and there are certain things you cannot rush (like other people). And for a person who’s on speed dial, that can be difficult.

How long something takes is not within your control. You can rush to catch a bus only to end up in a traffic jam; you can submit a document early only to have it lost in the mail; you can make an early appointment only to have it cancelled at the last minute. There’s so much predicated from Above that we have little control over how our actions play out. This doesn’t mean you have to change your pace (which would probably be difficult to do); individuals have their inborn speed and sense of time. I’m only suggesting you realize that you have to let go of results because they’re really not in your hands, no matter how much you hurry up.

Try to fit some relaxation time into your day; deep breathing, a leisurely walk or a short nap will all help recharge your batteries while calming you down. It isn’t healthy to always be on overdrive. Save your energies for when they’re most productive.

When we talk to children, we instinctively slow down our speech and simplify our words, using more expression in ourIt isn't healthy to always be on overdrive voices. When you’re with someone who isn’t up to your speed, slow down so that they can understand you and be patient if their responses aren’t as quick as yours. There’s a technique used in acting and psychology classes called mirroring. It’s when you try as much as possible to copy the body language, pace and speech of the person you’re talking to. This calibrates you to the same speed and type of interaction, as well as facilitates communication. Make it into a game!

Opposites attract, and I’m sure some of your more laid-back friends actually enjoy being with someone like you, who livens things up and gets things done. But relationships are give and take—sometimes at your speed, and sometimes at another person’s.

If you’re flexible and empathetic, you will use your superpower of speed only at the most appropriate times. Try to relax a little; stop and smell the roses, and build on patience—with yourself.

G‑d speed,