Failure #12: Exercise patience

If you’re on line at the post office and hear someone tapping their foot and heaving sharp, dramatic sighs, it might be me. I am not a patient person. My impatience is not a quality I am particularly proud of, but it keeps me bitter. Without bitterness, I wouldn’t have nearly as much to write about.

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Why am I so impatient in post office queues? Why do I get restless if the subway train sits at a station for one minute too long? What compels me to dash to the checkout ahead of the elderly Chinese lady? I have Places to Be and Things to Do, of course. Nevermind that the place is my home office and the things are wearing pajamas and looking at Apartment Therapy and Popdose online.

As often as I am impatient to get back into my pajamas, I am anxious to get out of them. I may be the only woman in Western civilization to be on time for any event. In fact, I’m usually unfashionably early. Whether it’s for an interview or a casual night at the pub, I will be there 20 minutes before the scheduled time. It’s a challenge to look cool while sitting in a waiting room or bar all alone. And I haven’t quite mastered disguising my ire when I’m left waiting 20 minutes past schedule. Especially without wi-fi, so that I can make passive aggressive comments on Twitter and Facebook.

But really, how’d I get this way? I suppose I am a product of modern society. Like many of my generation (and a few before), I’ve been spoiled by our fast food culture. I expect my whims to be met instantaneously. I want what I want when I want it and I don’t want to wait for it. Haven’t you heard? We live in a fast-paced world where everyone is busy. We don’t have time to wait for slow-cooked meals. We don’t have time to sit through three minutes of commercials. I’m Entitled. Gimme!

In my chosen profession, I have been conditioned to work at breakneck speed on short deadlines. Generally I’m able to do so without breaking much of anything, not even a sweat. Commercial creativity, though, is a hurry-up-and-wait vocation. Hurry up and write that article or design that ad and send it off to the client for feedback. Clients always want to receive the creative content immediately, like yesterday. Minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days before a client will respond to creative work. Oftentimes the client will respond mere hours before a project goes to press with loads of suggestions and changes. If only an accredited post-secondary institution offered Wizardry and Time Travel degree programs.

Impatience can be a virtue if it’s properly harnessed. Earlier this year, I took on the challenge to take some old essays and shape them into book form. I started the project in February. The book was print-ready by June. Now it’s available online and in stores in Toronto. If I’d gone the traditional route, I’d still be waiting for rejection letters to trickle in. Now I can get rejected directly by consumers!

By nature I am restless and fidgety. I am not content unless I’m chipping away at some fancy plan. I like to get things done. Some people work for accolades or applause, but I’ve got a jones for that sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, the accomplishment high wears off pretty fast and my mind wanders onward to the next project. Sometimes, when the restless demons need to be quieted, I’ll visit the local swing set or turn on an American International beach party movie. These distractions allow for a brief escape from obsessing over the lack of responses to my latest batch of resumes and why I’m not further along in my career. Watching a 45-year-old Harvey Lembeck as juvenile delinquent Erik Von Zipper gives me hope for the future. Perhaps one day I will be a middle-aged teenager. (It’s not an entirely far-fetched notion in this McWorld of ours.)

I have longed for the ability to step back, take a deep breath and say “que sera sera.” Let life happen instead of trying to control the uncontrollable. Things should run their course in their own time. My dinner doesn’t always have to go from freezer to microwave in three minutes flat. I can sit through a few commercials. Some of my whims can be put off until tomorrow. Maybe the next time I get impatient behind the elderly Chinese lady at the post office, I’ll invite her to join me in the park for a swing.

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One thought on “Failure #12: Exercise patience

  1. I have a tolerance level that can only be controlled by NOT driving a car. My patience is directly related to how close I get to my vehicle. As soon as I sit in it & turn the key, I must be at my desired destination! Why the hell NOT??!

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