Culture

The Art of Waiting Gracefully

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Waiting isn’t my favorite. I don’t dig the helpless, vulnerable, out of control nature of waiting. I hate when there’s nothing you can do but wait, when time passes as slowly as my tenth grade English class, the truest vortex of time I’ve ever known. I think the worst thing about waiting is that it’s never over until it’s over. You can’t rush waiting and you can’t wait faster. You can only wait.

It doesn’t matter how much I wring my hands, cry, beg, bargain, or negotiate. The waiting waits until it’s good and ready, and this is rarely soon enough for my preference. It’s been my excruciating experience—over and over again—that the endless torment of waiting only comes to an end when you no longer consciously realize you’re waiting. At some point, you stop jumping every time you get a text alert, stop checking your email every half hour, stop waiting on the front porch for the mail to arrive. There comes a point when waiting is just too much, and finally when you’re exhausted, you give up. The truth is you’ve lost hope. You’ve licked your wounds and moved on, and you’ve detached yourself from the final outcome. Come what may, you’ve moved on.

This is what waiting looks like for me:

Stage 1: Confident and hopeful. Journaling my ridiculous aspirations about all the things that will happen in the waiting. Posting pithy Facebook memes about the joy of the hopeful unknown.

Stage 2: Vaguely optimistic. Philosophical about “what I’m supposed to learn in this season.” Edgy and irritable.

Stage 3: Discouraged. Impatient. Annoyed. I delete Facebook off my phone so I can stop seeing all the dreams coming true around me. I am starting to hate all the happy people and all their happy happinesses.

Next page: Stages 4 and 5…

Stage 4: Just no. Don’t talk to me about it. Don’t talk to me at all, actually. I’m so over all of this. Over it. Moving on.

Stage 5: Wait… what just happened? You mean to tell me it all came together? The wait is over? Well! Who knew? I mean, I kind of did. I thought it would happen at some point and look, it did. See? That wasn’t so bad. I’ll never question the process again. I’ll always remember what this was like, how it’s all worth it. I’ll never resist waiting again.

Repeat.

The truth is that the Time In Between is when the magic happens. Waiting is the magical space between the dreaming and the coming true. It’s the silent timeline when babies grow and seeds take root and flowers bloom. I want to be a woman who waits with such infinite grace that she makes waiting look like fun. I think the secret is to get busy, to plan fun distractions and to pack so much joy into my life that I forget I don’t already have everything I want. If you choose to do the unexpected, to treat yourself to something so wildly extravagant, then when the waiting and patience don’t deliver the goods, you don’t even mind. That’s the thing about life: it comes together when you’re busy moving on.