Valley Girl With a Brain

Questioning, like, everything

Still waiting to learn how to wait

Can instant gratification seekers learn patience?

Everyday I am waiting for something-- an iced green tea at Starbucks, an unoccupied bathroom, or a YouTube video to load.

I have come to despise waiting. So much so that sometimes I can't stop myself from screaming and cursing when inconvenienced.

I remember being semi-patient as a child. The day after my birthday, I would begin a slow, but persistent countdown until the next birthday, just a mere 364 days later. But, with the help of growing technology and timesaving appliances, it seems patience-- once a virtue-- has now become an anachronism.

Instead of holding our breath for a tentative dial-up connection, the Internet can now be accessed through cable, DSL and fiber-optic speeds.

Remember rushing home to give a friend a call-- and then waiting for a sibling to go grab her upstairs? This was the pre-mobile era when answering machines and eavesdropping on phone call were staples of most television sitcoms.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

E-mail, too, has turned the ancient art of a handwritten letter into something you read about only in Jane Austen novels.

Everything we do is about saving time-- whether we're connected digitally, online or through a smart phone. But sometimes, hurrying through life can actually be quite debilitating.  

Think about it. Most traffic accidents are a result of speeding drivers while fad diets remain popular because people can't seem to commit to a long-term healthy goal. And Oh Romeo, had he just waited for that telegram from Friar Laurence to arrive-- he and Juliet might have been sipping umbrella drinks on a beach somewhere instead of being dead.

Waiting, while tedious, can actually be quite valuable. In fact, former PT Editor-in-Chief Dr. Robert Epstein believes that good things come to those who wait. Waiting is great for creativity-- he writes, "When people are struggling to solve a problem, the more time they have, the more creative they become." Steve Carell benefited from nearly 20 years of playing the Hollywood waiting game before his breakthrough role in "The 40-Year Old Virgin."

Epstein also says that waiting in relationships can also be positive. Too often, couples pull the break-up trigger without trying to give a situation some time and seeing what happens. 

Fellow PT blogger Eliezer Sobel also believes that finding your ideal love requires some patience. In a recent post, Sobel suggests we should all hope to find a partner who shares the same generic love style as us, meaning, we should (be so lucky) to find mates who can appreciate our idiosyncrasies. He illustrates this idea with one of his past relationships-- a girlfriend who used to show her love for him by heaping spoonfuls of unwanted mashed potatoes onto his plate. While Sobel didn't appreciate her gesture, her next boyfriend found it wholly endearing.

Sobel writes, "The implication of all this is that if you're still looking for your perfect match, just keep being who you are, doing things the way you've always done them, until someone basically slides into place." He assures us that the "right" person who loves us for us, will eventually come along-- we just need to wait for it.

All of these lessons are duly noted, but how do you teach a generation of instant gratification seekers to wait (sometimes for years), when we can't even sit through one commercial break?

Furthermore, how do you convince this same generation-- the one that grew up listening to adages such as, "Don't just sit around and wait" or "You have to act quickly, otherwise opportunities will pass you by"-- that "good things will come to those who wait" when it feels like everyone else is speeding ahead?

Lastly, how do you know (or convince yourself) that something good is really on its way?

Follow me on Twitter: @ThisJenKim

 

Jen Kim is a former Psychology Today intern and a graduate of Northwestern University.

more...

Subscribe to Valley Girl With a Brain

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?