I hate waiting. After teaching piano to children as young as age four for seven years, I can no longer characterize myself as a wholly impatient person, at least not with a straight face, but man, do I hate to wait. Yesterday, I was thinking about how much time I spend waiting in the course of daily routine life: I wait for the light to turn green, I wait for the clerk to ring up my purchase, I wait for the check at the restaurant, I wait for people to get back to me via E-mail or text or phone. I wait for the water to boil, I wait for the mail to arrive, I wait for lunch, I wait for my nail polish to dry.
Yes, this is what I spend my time thinking about. So I decided I would compile a list of the top five things I hate waiting for.
5. Scheduling: My old business depended on the skillful juggling of twenty to thirty families’ schedules with my own. I am very good at scheduling, but what used to drive me up the wall was my inability to get a timely response and then the whole process of going back and forth, complete with peoples’ schedules spontaneously rearranging themselves overnight, thus wrecking my grand plan. Email, phone, or in person, they all have their unique and horrible pitfalls of waiting for someone to respond. (In person, you say? Yes, because inevitably people can’t commit to anything in person. They have to get back to you, presumably after checking with all family members.) Waiting a week or more for someone to say, “No, we can’t come then because of xyz activity” is maximally frustrating, since presumably they knew that they couldn’t do it for the entire week and therefore I’ve been waiting for no good reason. This dislike of scheduling and the waiting inherent to it has now extended into my regular life as well, which is why I rarely schedule group events.
4. Results: When I used to audition on a semi-regular basis, I hated waiting for the cast list, solo list, or whatever list to be posted. Now I hate waiting for responses to my short story submissions. I just want to know and get it over with, and in the meantime, I tie myself into myriad complex mental knots.
3. Drama: I like things resolved now. As in, right this very minute. If I have an interpersonal conflict of some type going on and it’s impossible to quietly smooth over (which is generally my first choice), I want to face it and resolve it as quickly as possible. Cooling down and talking about it in the morning? Not so much, because I won’t relax until I feel a resolution, meaning I won’t sleep well. Having someone initiate drama over e-mail? That means for every exchange, I have to wait, and the tension builds higher and higher between e-mails.
2. Healing: Whenever I get sick or injured, I convince myself that I’ll never feel better again. Waiting to heal is particularly difficult because I feel so physically lousy the whole time, it affects all aspects of my life to varying degrees. Right now I’ve been waiting for my knees to heal for a year and a half, and I messed up my back about a month ago and I’m waiting for it to heal too. Really, what I’m waiting for is the resumed ability to do things I want to do but can’t. Of course, if I don’t wait long enough, then I re-injure myself or relapse into the illness and it takes even longer to heal.
1. Loved Ones and Terminal Illness: This is the worst kind of waiting I can think of. Watching a loved one suffer in horrible pain and waiting for them to die tears everyone involved into tiny jagged pieces.
Feeling impatient along with me yet? Let’s talk about a few strategies for coping with some of these things (except the last one, which requires a more in-depth discussion). Setting deadlines can be helpful when dealing with other people. Distracting yourself is also big up there, whether that be with a fun activity or by working on the next story or audition piece. Focusing on what you are capable of when injured or sick can help although I’ve found it mostly works in the very short term. I’ve found being aware of the changes for the better (oh look, now I can walk FOUR blocks with no knee pain, or I can stand at a convention party for THREE hours instead of twenty minutes) to be more cheering. Scheduling a particular time to talk about a big looming issue means at least you have some idea of the time frame of resolution.
One of the strategies I like the best is to think about the stuff in life that does make me happy. So never fear, because tomorrow I plan to write the perfect antidote to this post– the top five things I love waiting for. Yes, they do exist! But you’ll have to wait to hear about them.