“Out, dog! out, cur! Thou drivest me past the bounds of maiden’s patience.” ~William Shakespeare (Midsummer Night’s Dream III, ii)

For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been a pretty impatient person. My Dad read this story at my first wedding: “Over the years, Kristi and I have remembered and recalled one small but very important event from her childhood. It was the time she wanted to learn to jump rope. It would seem that learning to jump rope would be simple, but Kristi, then as now, was impatient with herself and when she first tried it, she got tangled in the rope. She wanted to quit trying to learn how to jump that rope, but I encouraged her to try and try again, and in a short time she was the best rope jumping little girl on the block!”

What he didn’t say was that I think I threw a pretty big temper tantrum, throwing the rope on the ground, making a little fool out of myself with my little girl hysterics. The outcome however was a good memory for me and my Dad, and the moral of the story of course is to persist – to be patient, and with that patience will come success. So I guess I’m wondering though: why doesn’t it get any easier to be patient as we grow up? I still find myself getting impatient all the time – with people, with processes, with life in general. I wish someone could write me a prescription for patience (not that my new high-deductible health insurance would pay for it).

I guess it’s a part of who I am, and while I accept this, I don’t like it. My impatience is usually either accompanied by or results in stress, unhappiness, regret, and even rage (of the road variety). I wonder if impatience is a genetically inherited trait; I tend to think it is, but then maybe I’m just making excuses. And if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of my impatience-induced rudeness, I sincerely apologize. As someone who has said (and believed) in the past “Most people in the world are idiots,” patience with other humans is not my forté, and is definitely something I need to work on.

The one exception to the duration of this character flaw was when I lived in sub-Saharan Africa during my time as a Peace Corps volunteer. Over there, time stands still, literally. If you don’t slow down – both physically and mentally – to match the creeping crawl of life, your impatience will literally drive you insane or you’ll just keel over from stress-induced hysteria. I learned, and even appreciated eventually, how to become a more patient person while I was there. Hakuna matata is real, people.

Unfortunately, that acquired level of patience and “no worries” attitude seemed to shrivel up and die once I arrived back in America – land of the never-ending go-get-’em fast pace of life. Settle in, chase “the dream,” bypass vacations, battle the traffic, worry worry worry. And then before you know it, another decade has passed. Years full of wasted moments that you can never get back. And through all of it, being impatient for…something. Everything.

When I decided a few months ago to make changes and pursue meaning in my life again, I knew that impatience would continue to be a personal foe for me. I spoke to my therapist at the time about perceptions and reality, and giving myself TIME to adjust and pursue the new directions in my life. I expressed worries about how others would perceive me and my efforts – that they’d think I was a “slacker” for quitting my job without having another one lined up. People want to know what I’m doing with “all this time” on my hands. It’s not easy to explain, this transition phase.

I don’t blame others for wanting to know how I’m filling the hours in every day or what the next step of “the plan” is – but as I told someone the other day, sometimes there just isn’t that much to tell right now. It’s not that I mind the questioning so much, because I think that’s part of normal human nature to be curious, but I then start to feel guilty somehow that I don’t have a perfect outline to hand to them that will make them feel better about all this change (because from my end, I usually feel pretty fine about it). I’m learning to be comfortable with saying “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know.” It’s ok to not know how something is going to turn out!

Yes, it is very nice to not have to trudge back and forth from the miserable job I recently quit. I’m happier than I can say to not have to fight the long and stressful morning and afternoon commutes. But I do find myself getting impatient with the anticipation of “what’s next.” I’m impatient that I haven’t heard back yet about the internship I applied for a few weeks ago. I’m impatient that a part-time job I’ve been anxiously waiting for hasn’t been posted yet. I’m impatient for the 2014 Tour de France to get here, now that I’m in withdrawals from the Tour that just finished…

Each day I feel like I make a few more small strides towards an UNunhappy future, but I also don’t want to discount the here-and-now part of the journey. When I get too impatient with myself about where I or others think I should be at this stage, it inevitably leads to more stress and distress. I love to tick the “completed” boxes on my to-do lists, and those lists help guide me with goals and objectives, but letting my lists get too long and out-of-control is something I need to work on.

So instead, I’m trying to be patient with myself and my own expectations, which really are the ones that count the most after all. These new directions and desires I have for my life aren’t going to happen overnight, or in a few weeks, or even in a few months. Giving myself time is ok. The days fly by so quickly though don’t they? We get so caught up in the “down-the-road” goals that we sometimes gloss over what’s right in front of us, right now.

The favorite in-front part of my day today was a fromage sandwich on a fresh-baked baguette from a new-found French cafe and getting to know the owner, a nice lady from France. What was yours?

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

PS: The family klutz gene (which I know IS inherited) struck strong this past week, so I just wanted to pass along get-well wishes to my three ailing family members:

  • My Mom, for her hairline-fractured leg she was awarded after slipping on a watery sidewalk at an Oklahoma casino;
  • My nephew Truman for a river rock-induced gargantuan foot slice that took 9 stitches to close; and
  • My nephew Wyatt for a bad tongue laceration inflicted by a spectacular chin fall from the kitchen table.

At my brother’s prompting, the rest of us are considering rolling ourselves in bubble wrap just to be safe.