I am not a naturally patient person. I’ve always been impatient. As a child, I would count down to summer break and movie releases. I was at the bookstore as soon as each Harry Potter book was released.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more patient about some things. I understand when a chronically ill friend has to cancel at the last minute. I don’t get so annoyed waiting at the doctor’s office (unless it’s egregiously bad). I still worry about being late to appointments and don’t like it when a friend is late to meet me.
But the person I’m the least patient with is myself. I want to be patient with myself, with my season of life, and with my limits. I’m not very patient with myself when I am tired, sore, or just plain lazy. I get mad at myself when I don’t want to work out or struggle to get out of bed. I keep thinking about my to-do list or picking up a project that needs to be done when I am trying to give myself time to rest or relax. Instead of enjoying the break, I keep clicking over to my to-do list.
My life has changed a lot lately and I am in a hurry to get to my next stage—to have a lot of my questions answered and things sorted out. I want to know what my next big career move is, whether I’ll hear back about a freelance gig, or how long it will take me to recover from a recent minor surgery.
The surgery itself was not a big deal but the recovery is very very very slow. I was naïve about how slow it would be and how much I could do as I recovered. I thought I would bounce back and move on to the next thing. Having to wait to be back to normal is excruciating. I’m not able to do as much or as fast as I normally can. When I do try, I’ve noticed I make mistakes.
I need to take things slow, but I am finding it so very difficult. I don’t want to label myself as “bad at patience” or “bad at slow living” but that’s honestly how I feel right now. I feel like I would be happier and more fulfilled if I could embrace a slower pace and patience for where I am right now, but instead, I feel in a hurry to move on.
Like many people, I haven’t had a lot of practice taking things slowly or worked at patience. Instead, my whole life I have focused on the next goal, the next achievement, the next project. There was never a pause in-between or a moment to rest and enjoy the things I did accomplish except on vacation. It’s part of our culture and an aspect I’ve bought into for a long time. It’s how I defined my worth, so of course, I’m impatient to prove myself and my productivity.
Having to take a break has been really hard. Even when I want a break or think a break would be good—I think of what I need to do and what I’m not doing by taking a break. Each day that I wake up and am not feeling back to normal, I feel frustrated and impatient.
And I know this is making me unhappy. I don’t have to feel unhappy, but I’m making myself unhappy with my impatience. I’m exacerbating my anxiety unnecessarily. And I can tell by how my mind and body feel. It’s not good. So, my goal this month is patience—to especially be more patient with myself, my body, and my mind. I’m going to take more computer breaks and stop trying to fill my schedule or load up my to-do list.
Yesterday, I had a day without appointments and deadlines. I spent most of the day just hanging out with my husband. We didn’t have an itinerary or feel the need to check the clock or talk about what to do next. Instead, we just talked and hung out and went to dinner and shared articles. I barely knew what time it was much of the day. And it was absolutely perfect.
Clearly, most days cannot be like that, but I can have more of those days and more of my days can have those moments in them. I don’t need to try to fit in emails and chores in the nooks and crannies of my schedule or day. I’m going to try to remember this more often and forgive myself when I forget or get impatient with myself—because that’s patience too.