These past few days have been, for reasons unknown, more difficult than usual for me. Not in the sense that I have an overwhelming amount of work or my relationships are falling apart or any other major life catastrophe, but simply the unnerving reality of not having a solid goal to work towards.
Now that I have decided that I want to expand my horizons beyond teaching, I am anxious for my new journey to start RIGHTNOW. I know that I want to accomplish….something. The rub, however, is what,exactly I want to achieve.
I have always had a definite, purposeful goal in mind. Finish high school. Graduate from college. Find a well-paying job. Find a suitable place to live. Complete my master’s degree. Check, check, check. And now, I have these big dreams with no practical objective in sight.
This drives. me. crazy. I want my ambition epiphany, and I want it yesterday. The fact that I have no real, tangible target to meet is extremely hard for someone with a goal-oriented life perspective.
And yet, somehow, I feel like this phase is something that needs to happen before I can move on to the next big step in my journey. Even with little things, on a day to day basis, it feels like the universe has been giving me one solid, clear message in every way possible: BE PATIENT.
Patience is not something I come by easily. If I know what I want, I want it to happen NOW. If I have something to do, I try to do it as soon as possible. I am not a fan of waiting around.
This, however, is a problem. If I truly want to accomplish something of magnitude, this will not happen overnight. Logically, I know this. Emotionally, however, I am clinging to the idea that once I decide what I want to work towards, everything will magically fall into place and badabing, badaboom, I will be an overnight success!
(Yes, you’re allowed to laugh).
In part, I think that this mentality springs from my high school days where I was able to perform in every subject quite passably with minimal effort. This was not conducive to cultivating a growth mindset, and instead led me to believe that I shouldn’t have to work very hard at things; they should just fall together with a light wave of my hand.
Obviously, this thinking causes quite a bit of misery once you put on big girl pants and realize that life delivers proportionately to the amount of work you put in. Many times I have avoided trying or continuing with something simply because I know that I won’t be good at it at the first try. It has taken me 27 years on the planet to realize that patience is indeed a virtue.
But what, exactly, makes patience so desirable?
Anything that is worth possessing requires patience, and so many things, from relationships to weight loss to food preparation, can be ruined by trying to speed things up. I learn this lesson the hard way every morning I try to speed-cook my eggs and end up with brown crusts rather than yellow fluff.
Patience makes the end result that much sweeter. If you have ever had homemade ice cream, you know the long, arduous process that it takes; multiple salt and ice additions, endless checking, and seemingly hours of stirring. But, the moment that creamy sweet vanilla coldness melts in your mouth, you know it was worth it.
Being patient is a trait that is admirable. Whenever I tell people that I am a middle school teacher, 4/5 people will immediately comment on how much patience I must have to deal with hormonal pre-teens. If you see someone losing their patience, your immediate reaction is to grimace or turn away; flying off the handle does not lend itself towards inviting people into your inner circle.
Having fortitude in all of the different situations that require patience is really, really hard. Those people who are able to maintain their composure in every life situation are truly referred to as saints for a reason.
Most importantly, patience yields the best results. If you had a choice between a chicken that was slow roasted for hours versus a chicken that was hastily boiled, I’m pretty sure the latter would be gracing the circular storage in less than 30 seconds. If you follow the fitness level of someone who lost immense amounts of weight in a year versus someone who lost the same amount over three years, the person who took longer to shed the extra pounds will be the one who can actually keep it off.
Being able to delay your gratification for the purpose of getting something right is incredibly rewarding once the fruits of your labor ripen. In nearly every situation, the wow factor of the outcome is proportionate to the amount of patience that was sprinkled in along the way.
With all of these stellar qualities on its resume, patience should be the top candidate of choice in everyone’s various life situations.
As far as my personal journey goes, I feel that the sheer maddening nature of not being clear about what I want to do is preparing me for the long road ahead. I am allowed to let the end game be unclear (for now). I am completely authorized to give myself time to ponder and sift through all of the exciting possibilities. I am released from all the self-imposed pressures to have everything immediately set in stone.
It takes patience to build a life that is worth living. Time goes by only so fast, and while most of the time we feel like we are already running behind, sometimes it’s ok to slow down so that more of our moments in life are quality moments. Finding the perfect balance between coming to a complete standstill and rushing so much you perpetually spill your coffee all over your desk and have to start over again and again is a tough challenge to tackle, but one that is well worth it.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau states, “Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.” In the end, whatever we place our awareness on grows. If we take the time to actually focus our energy, we will reap the benefits.
And so, with deep calming breaths, I embrace the wait. Because I know it’s temporary. And once I decide where I’m going? That, my friends, is where the REAL fun begins.