By Clive Sin
If you have been waiting forever for the special one to reciprocate your love, fist bump, brother.
If your resume has been floating endlessly from one unsympathetic employer to another, my heart goes out to you too.
Let me hold your hand. Because nothing can compare to the torture of waiting when the endpoint is uncertain.
Waiting is a commitment to time, a surrender to unknown forces that paralyses us. While some of us are born with the unusual ability to find peace in uncertainty, most of us oscillate between pessimism and despair.
And yet, even through all the suffering, there is value to the act of waiting.
Waiting for something to happen creates a pause in our lives. It makes us feel as if we could be doing something more productive. Since our lives are usually jam packed with activities and a busy schedule is often taken as a marker for fulfillment, it is natural to feel this way.
But when we are forced to wait, it carves out a meaningful space for us to reflect.
According to the Harvard Business Review article published in 2017 Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It), waiting allows us to re-evaluate our choices and the effectiveness of the strategies we live by.
After some consideration, we might end up realising how to improve a job application or decide to move on from a hopeless cause of unrequited love. This delay in response usually leads to a better, more informed decision.
However, it is easier said than done. Waiting can feel like being trapped in a prison cell with no release date in sight.
From the confines of an actual prison cell, Nelson Mandela expressed his thoughts on his dire situation through a letter to his wife in 1975.
“At least, if for nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct, to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you.”
When we choose to reflect, we make better choices than if we rushed into meaningless tasks just to relieve the boredom.
In his 18 years of imprisonment on Robben Island, Mandela worked with other prisoners to organise education opportunities in prison, inspired a shared vision for South Africans with young fellow convicts and even completed a law degree before his release.
He could have given up, but chose to make himself useful during the wait.
You could be waiting for a loved one to come home, the ballot results for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat — nothing remotely close to a prison sentence. Whatever it is, there is always something you can do.
Pick up a new skill even if it’s tying a cherry knot with your tongue. Your next infatuation may just find that hot. Save more money, because even if you do not get the BTO flat, you will be flinging cash into the next application.
Remember, events may be put on pause but you keep running your race called life. Reach out for that hammer and strike the phrase “Carpe diem — seize the day” onto your aching heart.
It is interesting how when we want something more, the waiting time seems to lengthen and we suffer more. But through that passage of time, we can find boundless opportunities to practice patience.
And that means subjecting ourselves to anxiety, failure and even boredom so that we can develop our endurance.
As English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton puts it, “Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.”
Patience is a form of self-restraint and resilience. It allows us to overcome the frustration and fears of giving up while sticking to our guns and mastering our skills.
Perhaps one day, we may wake up with the strength of a Jedi master.
Waiting is a commitment to time, and we mere mortals are bounded to it. Let us not perceive it as a leash tied around our necks, but as a measure of how far we can go in life.