A couple of years ago, my close friend, Ashley, told me a story about a teacher who gave all of her students one piece of candy. The teacher told the children that they could either eat their piece of candy right then and there or wait until the next day and receive another piece of candy for their patience. Those who ended up eating their treat right away didn’t get a second piece the following day and threw tantrums where as the ones who patiently waited it out enjoyed two pieces.
I think Ashley told me this story as a way to help me through a bad break-up. I was thick in the midst of the bargaining stage of grief and kept on texting my ex to take me back. I was on the verge of drunk dialing him again for the 5449392 time that night when she kindly told me how much better I’d feel if I sucked it up and waited it out until the need to call him passed.
“Do you want to have two pieces of candy, Steph, or none at all?” Ashley asked.
Of course, back then, I had no idea what she was talking about and couldn’t find a link between the patient children with candy tangent and my desperate need to call my asshole ex boyfriend. Years later, I finally got it. If I had been patient and resisted the temptation to call him, I’d feel so much better the next day, much like the kids who hadn’t eaten their candy right away.
I still suck at patience. I watched my dog staring longingly at my turkey sandwich last night as if it were the only piece of food left in the world and thought, Man if I were a dog, I’d just eat that shit, I wouldn’t even sit there staring at it.
As a freelance writer, you need to become comfortable with the waiting. I’m constantly waiting for clients to get back to me with changes to their articles, for checks to arrive, and for new work to appear in my inbox. It’s a cat and mouse game, and I hate it.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m impulsive or if it’s a result of being raised in a nation where instant gratification is the norm. I just cannot be patient. I try and try and try and fail constantly. I’m that screaming toddler with the tiara in the supermarket as her mother waits in line to buy the groceries.
But patience is something we should all learn to master. In a world where we get our news, entertainment and food at lightning fast speed, there’s something to be said about learning how to enjoy the wait.
I’m in the process of waiting right now. It’s a three month wait and the longing is just as bad as my dog’s yearning for that turkey sandwich, but it’s for the best.
If you learn how to just be patient, your ship will eventually come in.