I’m aware that amongst the many steps that exist to becoming a full-on Grown Up, being able to wait for things and accept that some of the greatest pleasures will take time is amongst the most important, but I’m afraid that I will never reach that state of mind. I often think about those studies I’ve read about, where they give kindergarteners a cookie, and tell them that if they eat it right away, they will get only that cookie, but that if they wait five minutes, they will get an additional cookie. I think about that, and I imagine 23-year-old me in the same experiment, being handed the first cookie and then cramming it hastily into my mouth before the scientist can even finish the offer about the potential second cookie. I can’t wait for anything.
And it’s not that I don’t want to. I look around at people who seem to have the “be patient and things will work out” vibe down to a science — my parents, my boyfriend, some of my more mature friends — and I wish that could be me. I wish I could be waiting on some potential good or bad news and could just kind of hang out and forget about it until I got more information. I wish that every day between when I start waiting and when I found out wouldn’t be spent in a state of anxious irritation, ready to claw someone’s eyes out to know for sure. And I know the way I will bug and prod people to try and make things go faster must be incredibly annoying, but I just can’t help it. The number of times I’ve had “patience is a virtue” calmly recited to me, and the number of times I have wanted to respond with a temper tantrum and an “I KNOW” while kicking sand in their eyes, is easily in the thousands. I wish I could be more mature about this.
I think back to all the various moments in my life where I have waited for things outside of my control — grades when all the work was already turned in, a text back from a guy I like, if I’m going to get into that program I applied for — and each one was filled with more childish agony than the last. I know that stressing over something and running all the possible outcomes over and over in my head is about as effective as repairing a broken dishwasher by crying at it, but I just can’t help myself. In the moment, I think if I agonize as much as possible over it and imagine the worst case scenario in all its absurd potential manifestations, I will somehow overcome the laws of physics and get to the results faster. Of course, as we all know, obsessing over something and thinking about it constantly only makes time go slower, until you’re essentially just staring at the clock and listening to it tick-tick-tick while you slowly trickle into insanity.
But it’s clearly possible for some people to take on this “que sera sera” attitude about life and all of the things that they have to wait for. There are those who actually come to enjoy delayed gratification, and maybe even catch a small buzz off of the anticipation. And I, the me that was breaking down doors to get a sneak-peek at Christmas presents when I was a child, feel incredibly immature by comparison. The truth is, I simply don’t understand how it’s possible to let things go — to wait for them with no expectations and no conditions. When I see people around me who are zen about even the most stressful of concerns, it seems to me like a complicated formula I’ll never be able to solve. There is some inherent part in us that is just different, and while they are able to move successfully out of childhood in every department — including this one — I am left rolling around on the floor, wanting to eat dessert before dinner.
I wish it could be explained to me, I wish someone could just simply hand me the key to being patient and releasing what is out of my control, though preferably not with some new-agey book and an accompanying meditation CD. I just want to be able to have that calm, commanding power of adulthood and maturity that makes others put their trust in you. I want to be the rock that can stay cool in stressful situations, who can wait for things until they are ready to happen. But for now, I’m afraid, I’m destined to be the girl who gets in trouble because she hacked into her parents’ Amazon account to find out her birthday presents early so she knew what she wouldn’t have to buy at the after-Christmas sales. Oh, well.