“Just be patient.”
I have said these words to others, and others have said them to me countless times during my life, all the while with Guns N’ Roses blaring in my head telling me to have “just a little patience.” To my kids: “Be patient, we will get there soon.” To my colleagues: “My vision is coming together, you will see, just be patient.” To my customers, “The bag you want was shipped yesterday, thank you for being so patient.”
Others have said the same words to me. From my mom and dad when I was a kid: “The line is moving, and in a few minutes it will be your turn to choose whatever ice cream cone you want, but first you must be patient.” From my college counselor: “You will hear from NYU soon enough, so be patient for a few more weeks.” And from a friend who I want to spend time with but cannot: “We will see each other soon, please be patient until then.”
The problem is, what if we have no patience? What if we want something or someone so badly we don’t want to wait? What do we do then?
Even if we are not a kid, when we want something and cannot have it immediately, the kid in us comes out. We become anxious. Irritated. Sad. Angry. In many ways, we revert to the child we once were, asking our mom or dad, “Are we there yet?” over and over again, or repeatedly walk into the kitchen wondering how long it will be until dinner is ready.
Our parents, if we were lucky (I was), impressed upon us how important having patience is. That there are reasons why we sometimes have to wait, reasons that are often for our own good. According to my mother, “wait” is one of the most important four-letter words. Instant gratification may feel good but, if we are not careful, may result in having second thoughts later. That is why it is necessary to, as the old proverb tells us, to look before we leap.
I will admit, throughout different times in my life I have not always done this. In my store, we laugh as I continually act impulsively, my lack of patience always just beneath the surface. My team says I run before I walk. And I say that yes, I jump without a parachute and figure it out on my way down. That is how I operate.
Becoming a mother, however, was a game changer for me. A conundrum. Mothers must have patience. When will the baby sleep? How long must I watch the ice cream drip on the floor before I can take it away and clean up? When will my kids (now teenagers) get dressed and come downstairs or call so I can pick them up when they are out with their friends? It was and is a challenge.
Having patience is something I always try to work on. Even if our schedules do not precisely align in the short-term with someone else’s — a child, a relative, or a friend — it behooves us to give that individual the space they may need to catch up to us. Going at a different pace doesn’t mean we love that person or they love us any less. In fact, it means the exact opposite. By being patient, we show others that we care about their needs as much, if not more than our own. And they show us that, sometimes, they know what is best for us even if we do not, at least right away. Having patience means that we can move forward as we should — naturally.
No one ever said having patience would be easy. After all, we want what we want — that sweater, jacket, fragrance, or person we cannot live without. So we wait a little longer. And we try to have patience.