The one line that I’ve probably heard more than any other in my life is, “be patient”.
Patience isn’t something I’ve ever been interested in entertaining. Not even a little bit.
When I decide to do something, I jump in boots and all—every time. I focus a HUGE amount of energy on achieving my goal, and I usually do achieve it, but I burn myself out in the process.
The problem is that I expect others to act the same way and can quickly become frustrated and short when I need to slow down and god forbid, wait.
Tolerance for accepting delay without becoming annoyed; That’s the definition of being patient. As opposed to the internal feeling of rage, I get when someone or something is holding me back.
It feels like an overwhelming sense of urgency. Think, being chased by an angry land mammal or Inland revenue collections department. My body triggers a life or death response, and off I go smashing through barriers to get what I set out to achieve.
When I applied to join the NZ Police the year before last, I spent a year pouring my heart and soul into the process. Working full time, studying part-time, parenting, running a home and improving my fitness enough to pass the Police fitness tests, it consumed my life.
I kept plugging away and ticking off milestones through to Police college stage. 1 year in I had passed all of the testings, aside from the 2.4km run, which I was 7 seconds short on passing. I was about to resit it and head to college when I had a change of heart. About a month before I was due to go to Police college in Wellington, I withdrew my application.
The reason I wanted to join the police in the first place was that I wanted to help people. I wanted to help the victims. I wanted to stop crime. I realised through this process that mental health was the catalyst for the majority of the issues involved in crime, and all I would be doing by joining the police would be destroying my own.
The police do an AMAZING job, and I had the good fortune to complete shifts on duty with a fantastic team: a life-changing experience and one I would never give up. But the lengthy process and no way I could speed through it allowed me to realise that this was not the place for me. I was having to be patient and take these steps slowly. For once this allowed me time, I could not charge through and jump in the deep end. I had to wait. Those were the rules.
Becoming mindful of my default setting to race has helped me to pull back a little. Not only has this reduced my levels of stress, but it has also saved me from pushing through to situations that I end up realising aren’t actually for me, like joining the NZ Police. I ended up realising through the long process that I wasn’t the right person for that job and that I could help people in other ways which would align better with my personality.
Learning to pause and wait has ended up, more than once, saving me from a mistake.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tone it down entirely because I feel so driven to achieve the things I set out to do, but I have learned to pace myself and trust that sometimes things don’t race along the finish line for good reason.
Sometimes the delay is a blessing and another option, in my experience, a better option is waiting.