The people and things we mostly want to influence are usually the ones we can’t influence at all: babies, teenagers and the person on the hotline for our technical problem come to mind.
As to the things we can’t influence, TIME is of course on top of the list.
We all have 24 hours each day, and we all know that 24 hours can go by in a blink – or not. When we have to wait, it’s always the latter. Time then tends to stretch like yesterday’s chewing gum.
When I was a child, the afternoon of December 24 was by far the longest afternoon of the whole year. I was certain that someone had bewitched the clock, just to torture me. A few years later I re-encountered the very same feeling in front of the silent telephone, waiting for the promised call from tall, dark and handsome, or, to a lesser degree I admit, for the results of school exams.
You guessed it, I’m not good at waiting. It immediately propels me into a state where I want to do something – anything! – to influence the time, the weather, the other person, just to stop the wait! (I leave it to your imagination to picture me during the very last week of my three pregnancies waiting for an over-due baby to FINALLY pop out!)
Like it or not, waiting is part of life, and there is always something or someone to wait for.
What are you waiting for?
We wait for
- the train to arrive
- Mr or Miss Soulmate
- approval for a loan/a building permit/a raise
- the tea water to boil
- the boss to give us feedback
- a legal decision
- the results of the new diet (started 48 hours ago) to become visible
- the bi-annual sales
- the latest movie with our favorite actor/actress
- the button to sew itself back
- the second stripe to appear on the pregnancy test
- being chosen for this new position
- “him” to remember that it’s our wedding anniversary
- the answer to an important letter or email
- someone else to tell us what to do (hint: this won’t be your coach!)
- the waiter to notice us
- a “better” moment to pay the bills
- our toothache to end
- the plane to take off
- things to change
- the tax form to fill itself out automatically
- the baby to fall asleep
- our teenager to introduce us to her new flame
- our life to start
One should think that with all these opportunities, practise would have made us all perfect at waiting! Alas, we all know those moments when we have more “nerves” than Mrs.Bennet waiting for a suitor for her five daughters!
Guilty as charged…I’m making progress, though. After living in Paris for so long – a city more famed for her artistic atmosphere than for her flawless organisation and punctuality – a certain laisser vivre has mellowed my compulsive impatience. The City of Light and some hardly aquired serenity have taught me what to do when I’ll have to wait – again…
10 Ways to make the most out of your waiting time
Well, here a some tried and tested ways to make more of your waiting time or at least to not let it spoil your mood for the rest of the day or the year:
- Be realistic. What with today’s security measures, one has to get early to the airport. Once you are through security, you’ll have to wait, you knew that in advance. Pacing the departure hall like a caged tiger is little short of stupid. The same goes for the traffic jam when you leave for your holidays the same day as 20 million other people…
- Be entertained, preferably intelligently. Other than your smartphone, take your Kindle, a book, your Ipod, your knitting gear, your sketching block, your manicure set, or whatever keeps you entertained and doesn’t weigh a ton, with you at all times. It’s a lesson one quickly learns when living in Paris and having to rely on strike-prone public transportation!
- Be humble. Much as our impatience would have it, the world doesn’t turn around our navel. People have other things to do than to wait breathlessly for the chance to answer our mails.
- Be distracted. When the wait is becoming too much, go and watch all six seasons of Downton Abbey, or the extended version of all three Lord of the Rings films in a row.
- Be prepared. When there is a lot at stake, and you fear the outcome of the wait, become proactive: what is the worst that could happen? Rather than just waiting, prepare yourself mentally or emotionally for this possibility.
- Be shielded. If it’s a public space and you don’t have the disposition of an anthropologist, take your noise-reducing headphones with you. You’ll thus eschew the lady next to you describe in unappetising detail her last ear-infection.
- Be indépendant. Unless in extremely extreme situations, there is more happening in your life than the thing or the person you are waiting for! When we wait for something, nothing else seems to matter. Let’s gain some perspective and remember how quickly we usually forget the very thing once the wait is over…
- Be confident. What if you knew that the result you are waiting for would be exactly as you hope for? You could let go of the wait and confidently do something else, couldn’t you? Now, what would that be?
- Be pro-active.Is there really no other solution than simply to wait? Sometimes, out of habit, fatigue or fear, we believe that waiting for something to happen or someone to take a decision is all that is left to do. Most of the time this is not true – even if the possibilities for action aren’t the easiest or most comfortable ones!
- Be useful. Standing like Lot’s wife in the middle of the kitchen and staring blankly at the kettle won’t make the water boil any quicker. Do something else in the mean time: clean out a drawer, water the flowers, learn your Spanish vocabulary. There is always something useful to do. Even while queuing in the post-office, you can do your abs. Just pull in your tummy and count until 25!
What are your tricks and techniques when you have to wait?