Do you ever have those moments when you’re just not willing to wait anymore? Maybe you want a new car after you see a red Mercedes coupe blazing by you on the freeway. In a split second, you’ve convinced yourself it’s time to get rid of your paid-in-full, reliable means of transportation to pick up the car note you swore you’d never have again. Or, perhaps, it’s the latest pair of Christian Louboutin heels your favorite celeb is running around town in that is sparking your next splurge at the mall. And of course, I can’t leave out the die-hard romantic that has to meet, beat, and greet their deadline for marriage, baby, and the white picket fence all before the age of thirty. You may say I hate waiting and I always get what I want when I want it. But here’s the warning: while we certainly have free will to do whatever floats our boat, being impatient and unwilling to wait can create much more chaos than you ever bargained for.
For the record, there’s nothing wrong with having wants or desires, as long as they don’t become wacky, unhealthy obsessions that consume our every waking thought. But there’s something to be said for putting in the work, the very hard and necessary work, to develop the patience and maturity needed to maintain things we claim to want (or need) so badly.
Here’s my true confession lesson on learning to wait. I shop so much at the BCBG outlet to the point that I’ve become a “client.” The sales reps greet me by name, even know where I work, and “miss me” when I’ve been away from the store too long. Ridiculous, I know, but someone out there is saying “me too!” Anyway, I noticed a pattern develop while stalking a fabulous black winter coat for a couple of months. First, the coat was $450, eventually dropping to $250 after a couple of weeks on the rack. Another month passes and I’m shocked as the price went down to $175. By holding off from purchasing it at full price (especially when I have other priorities), I saved a ton of money. Although I wanted to, I didn’t buy it at first sight and learned a simple but powerful lesson: the more I’m willing to wait, the more I can save in the long run. Now, I could have easily been stubborn and inched my way to the register, but the outcome would have been ridiculous. Number one, my credit card bill would have been higher than necessary, taking much-needed money from my savings. And two, while I’d be cute on the outside, I’d be broke on the inside, since I wouldn’t have the extra money to take care of other needs that were much more important. What sense would it make for me to charge a coat on my credit card when my goal is to pay the balance off so I can pad my savings account? Now, I’m not saying I’m 100 percent cured of shopping on a whim, but you get my point.
Not you? Here’s another example. A dear friend of mine is struggling with waiting for a better job opportunity. We all know we can’t come out of high school with a six-figure salary, but what happens when we develop our skills, get the degree and the experience, and still aren’t rewarded by the company we faithfully serve? While most people get the concept that their strengths are valuable in multiple settings, she’s stuck thinking this is the only company that can validate her worth. How so? She calls human resources. Yup, she calls just to see if they have changed their minds about not offering her the job. Side note: Constantly calling human resources to make sure they haven’t forgotten you, is a surefire way to get them to forget you! A wise mentor once told me when people choose not to see your value, it’s time to shake the dust off your feet, and move to a place where they will. I’ve witnessed that the very door that’s closed in our face is often the shove we need to wake up and move on to our next assignment. Hopefully, my friend will learn the value of waiting patiently as opposed to trying to force a situation she’s clearly outgrown. It reminds me of a clunky, size ten foot being squeezed into a stiletto meant for a size eight. Imagine how many corns your toes would have from constantly walking around in shoes too small. Continued friction creates corns. And nobody I know likes corns …
Finally, this last example is something everyone has seen up close and personal. Everyone knows a friend or coworker who is so ready to get to the finish line of marriage that they focus more on the venue and the flowers instead of preparing for the day-to-day experience of living together. Since there is a credible, 50/50 chance of divorce in the United States, it just makes sense to take advantage of pre-marital counseling as a part of creating a solid foundation. Taking time to wade through discussions of sensitive topics like “how much debt do you have?” and “how many times will we have sex a week?” would give more folk a fighting chance to survive the grim statistics. Maybe it would even cut down on nightmarish arguments and secretly wondering, Did I really marry a creature from the Black Lagoon? I’ve heard it over and over and I will say it here for those who don’t know. Marriage is incredibly hard work. So, I strongly advocate for the unromantic conversation about expectations before you set a date. It’s all a part of the process of knowing if you’re ready to contribute a healthy relationship that outlasts the anniversary cake in the freezer.
Please don’t get me wrong as I know several couples who went through premarital counseling and went right on and divorced. But I also know many more who chose to ignore the signs and red flags because they were too consumed with the idea of the walk down the aisle. Again, there is nothing wrong with desiring love, but wouldn’t it be nice to be ready financially, emotionally, and spiritually, even if it means I miss my deadline of having it all by age twenty-five, thirty, or thirty-five? With the sting of divorce affecting even those who always said, “I’ll never leave my spouse,” it might be worth it to work through concerns before getting blinded by dinner menus and the all-inclusive honeymoon packages.
Whether it’s the patience to handle the daily changes in a relationship, the discipline to live debt-free, or simply doing what you love and being justly rewarded for it, it requires that we work, but also learn the value of waiting. It’d be disappointing if the things we acquire falter because we have no idea to keep them.
I’ve had enough experience with being impatient and the receipts and heartache to prove it. Thankfully, I’m learning the value of working while waiting. By no means have I reached perfection, but I have cut down on the silly choices that keep me in bad relationships, piles of bills, and nothing but stress to show for it. Andrew Carnegie said “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” I’d like to add to that as we work, we have to wait and trust that everything will happen at the right time. I don’t want any (more) corns, I won’t stay in any work environment where I’m not valued for too long, and certainly don’t want divorce as one of my love languages. So, I’m willing to wait … and work it out until it’s time.