I pride myself on what I describe as ‘infinite patience’. Well, I used to. A while back, while I was in college, I had a couple of simultaneous jobs that required that infinite patience.
First, I was a TA teaching Freshman Chemistry Lab. (and I was the only undergrad teaching the lab too, so I was pretty awesome, I must say) If you’ve ever been to college, many of the majors require at least freshman chemistry as well as taking the lab. And most of the people in the lab are not there to get a chemistry degree. They are taking the lab because they have to. They only put in enough effort to simply pass the class. Lab time for me was spending many hours a week wearing goggles, preventing fires, and cleaning up the broken glass that used to be an expensive delicate thing.
Second, at the same time that I was a TA, I was a Freshman Chemistry tutor for students with learning disabilities. I spent another bunch of hours a week sitting in a room, one-on-one with a student with ADHD. They had a very difficult time picking up the concepts in a classroom environment, so I would look through whatever homework they had due and explained the concept to them. It forced me to develop the ability to explain a concept in many different ways. I would have to pull analogies out of my ass. I would have to be able to draw complex ideas on a whiteboard without having read a lesson plan. I would do this without actually doing their homework for them. Before they tutored with me, they were failing. After the tutoring, they passed the class. I’m really proud of that.
But now, after a few years, I seem to have lost some of my patience.
Especially right now. My wife and I are both at a critical crossroad. She is waiting on news that will change our lives forever, but that news will not be told until exactly two weeks from now. We have to wait. We are stuck wondering ‘what if this’ and ‘what if that’. Dozens of possibilities remain open to us, until two weeks are up. Then we will be told which one of those possibilities will actually happen. (Sorry about the vagueness. These are things that I want to keep private for now.)
And then there is the crossroad for me. There is the one thing that I really want. The one thing that will significantly improve my lot, and I’ve been told that it’s pretty much a sure thing. I’ve been told that the thing I want will be cemented into reality any time now. But I don’t know exactly when that will happen. It could be this afternoon. It could be a month from now. Every bleep on my phone telling me I have a new email could be the one that changes everything. But I’m constantly let down by some dumb promotional email from an online retailer that I purchased something from a year ago.
I JUST WANT TO KNOW. I’ve been wound up and excited for a while now. I’m trying to keep it together. But my patience is wearing out. And then I ask myself, “What happens when you’re out of patience? Is there any course of action besides running screaming through Target?” The answer is ‘no’. I have to keep on waiting. Even with no patience left, I still have to wait. My brain will punish me, I’ll chew off all my fingernails, I’ll eat all the donuts. And still, I’ll have to wait.