I'VE always been a deeply impatient person. I get jittery if a web page takes more than three seconds to load and borderline aggressive when people dawdle in front of me on the street.
I’ve been known to switch lines multiple times in a sluggish queue (and then give up completely in a huff).
It’s not a trait I’m proud of, and the pandemic has only made things worse. “Why haven’t they found a vaccine yet?” I want to wail every day, as if it were as simple as sticking a jacket potato in the microwave. “Six more months of this?”
I know that patience and the ability to keep calm in the face of frustration and adversity are skills worth cultivating.
Studies have shown that they reduce depression, and that more patient people are also more empathetic, generous and compassionate.*
Then there’s the fact that being too rash and always looking for a short cut can make us do irrational things. I’m convinced it was my restless nature that led to me proposing to my ex-husband.
I was in such a hurry to get married and tick that box, even though it was actually the last thing we needed. But at least I’m not alone in my irrational got-to-have-it-yesterday attitude.
A recent study found that when participants were offered a choice between a cheque today or a larger cheque in two weeks’ time, two-thirds of people chose the smaller, sooner reward.**
And ironically, more than half of those people waited two weeks to cash that cheque anyway. Impatient procrastinators? I’ve never felt so seen.
PATIENCE ISN'T ALWAYS A VIRTUE
Apparently, the cure is to step back from the situation that’s sending you into a tizzy, interrupt your stress-response cycle and reassure yourself with a patient mantra, such as: “The traffic is bad, but it will move eventually”. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
But in the moment, you feel like Michael Douglas in Falling Down (if you’ve not seen this ’90s classic then YouTube the trailer and you’ll get the idea).
But perhaps there is a positive side to wanting things right here, right now. Impatience can motivate us to reach our goals (even if said goal is simply getting a coffee quickly).
Patience isn’t always a virtue – it can make you passive and more likely to stick with something too long.
Waiting for my baby to make an appearance has been the ultimate test of my patience.
I’m still a week away from my due date and I’m already eating spicy food, walking endlessly and, well, you know the other “natural” remedy. I know that the baby will come when it comes. But I wish that was with a four-hour window, like an Amazon delivery.
This week I’m…
Styling with… Mark Hill Pick ’N’ Mix Deep Waver: I’ve rediscovered doing my hair and this gives perfect beachy waves.
Reading… Notes On Love: A collection of essays from writers, including me, with profits going to Black Minds Matter.
Wearing… Cubitts: A new season means new specs, and I love the A/W ’20 collection from this handmade British glasses brand.
Waiting for your whole life to change at any moment – maybe tonight, maybe two weeks from now – is a surreal and unsettling feeling.
One of the reasons I used to think parenthood was not for me is the sheer amount of patience it seemed to require.
I’d watch friends have a battle with their toddler over whether to put a coat on that seemed to last longer than the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. I’d marvel at how they did it, wondering if I ever could.
Now I am. I can only hope that embracing the slowness of life in the buggy lane will teach me that you can’t always control the pace of life.
As I write this, the hospital bag is packed and primed, there’s an empty Bugaboo in the hallway and a new member of our family is set to arrive any day now. Maybe good things do come to those who wait.
- Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.
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