I am thankful for May.
Earlier this year, I worked with a great life coach and though our work, I’ve adopted a new monthly habit. Each month, I create a one-word theme representative of what I’d like to cultivate more of in that month. For February, I worked on POSITIVITY. In March, I focused on INTENTION and April was all about ABUNDANCE. For the month of May, I now turn to PATIENCE.
I can be a patient person. I’ll wait in the checkout line as someone counts out five dollars in nickels and pennies. I can wait patiently for an incorrect food order to be remade or for the pharmacy to fill a prescription that was expected hours earlier. I am patient when I cycle through the same automated prompts while trying to talk to a real human person in customer service. Sitting in rush hour traffic can be uncomfortable, but with ever turn of the tire I know that I am slowly inching down the road. I am patient there too.
Yes, I can be a patient person if a person or thing requires it. Patience with myself… well, that’s something completely different.
I am an extremely goal-oriented person. I identify some goal post and drive towards it. Sometimes the goal changes or shifts ever so slightly, but the movement makes it seem worthwhile. I place demands upon myself, create tasks and goals both short-term and longstanding. It is these requirements of Dana, that has propelled me though every single phase and chapter of my life thus far. I can remember being a kid who demanded A’s because B’s were only satisfactorily. The thought of earning a C was a sign of Armageddon – the worst thing in the world, or at least that’s what I’d thought.
As I passed the through the various chapters of life, I met my share of struggle, adversity, and failure. I even got my first C in grad school, but it was okay, the world didn’t end. Patience was abundant. I was moving and I could see it. I wasn’t standing still – I was switching up my scenery and changing cities ever so often. I was creeping toward graduations and completion of projects. I could see the tangible evidence that I was not in the same place as I had once been.
Welp, that patience scurried away when I had my quarter-life crisis. Struggle, adversity, and failure continued but this time it felt like mediocrity and stagnation. I was putting forth my best efforts in the face of challenges but I wasn’t moving. I wasn’t finding opportunities that fulfilled me. I had tasks for various projects in life and work that I worked on, but it all felt meaningless. I felt like I was again, driving toward and morphing my goals with the ebbs and flows of life but my efforts were wholly insufficient.
Little by little, I began to lose patience with life and myself. It colored my view on everything that I did. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for me.
Year after year, day after day, I awoke with frustration and angst in my heart. I could not understand why I was stuck in what felt like quicksand. I would come across old notebooks and planners and see that things remained unchanged. In actuality, my physical landscape had not changed, but I was changing in new ways. Thankfully my coach helped me to see that.
Acquiring patience is the strongest expression of kindness that I can give to myself. Though I may feel like my feet are rooted in quicksand, I choose to believe that I will eventually see my movement.
This quicksand allegory is so relevant, because when you’re trapped in quicksand (A phase in life), you must lay back and allow more of the upper body (The mind, thoughts) to be grabbed by the quicksand. Only then, can your body begin to float and you can slowly paddle your way out. This could take hours (days, years) when you’re doing it by yourself. You will get tired but you can stop, take a break, do nothing, and appreciate the sky above. Eventually, you will muster up more strength and start the tiny paddles again. The movement of those small paddles may not be recognizable until you can reach solid ground again.
It’s counterintuitive and scary to lean back into quicksand and take tiny, slow efforts in order to free yourself. It’s counterintuitive to just pause and acknowledge that you’re taking action by being patient and respecting the process.
Patience and persistence are strange bedfellows. They don’t seem to make sense together, but I’m learning that I need a little of both. I’ve got this whole persistence thing down cold. It’s time that I make room for patience. This month, I hope to find and SEE more of it in my world.
Do you struggle with PATIENCE? Is it hard for you to be patient with yourself? Your family? Your co-workers? Your life? Tell me all about it below.