I spent the summer between high school and college dreaming about what my new, collegiate life would be like. Instant friends. Fun things to do. Zero problems. Amazing life. It was going to be (in my mind) a seamless and beautiful transition to the promised land. All I had to do was wait for the fall semester to arrive. That summer I went through life with my head in the clouds, waiting for my new, better life to start.
Then college started, and my dreams came crashing down. To my tremendous surprise college life was not the magic cure-all that I had hoped it would be. This new life still contained awkward conversations, unfamiliar people, boredom, and day to day tasks, like laundry. The time I’d spent checked out, waiting for college to arrive had done more harm than good.
One theme I’ve been seeing a lot of recently is this idea of waiting. There are certainly instances in life where waiting makes sense, so please don’t take this post as an encouragement for brash, unconsidered action or as a push towards overwhelming yourself with a ton of to-do list items. But I do want to highlight two big categories of unproductive waiting.
The ‘Dream Wait’
One form of unproductive waiting is the ‘dream wait’, which is what I did that summer after high school. The ‘dream wait’ is where we believe that some magical circumstantial change is going to instantly make our lives better. Perhaps we’re waiting for a promotion, to be famous, to get married, to have a kid, to get rich, or to get divorced. We check out of reality, sit on the sidelines of our lives, and hold out false hope that a knight on a white horse is just around the corner, on his way to save us. This type of ‘wait’ abdicates our personal responsibility and creative power to impact our lives right here and right now.
The ‘Perfection Wait’
The second kind of unproductive waiting is the ‘perfection wait’. This occurs when we have clear insight into an action to take, but we decide to wait until things are just so. We think, “Oh, I’ll do that thing that I know to do do when I’m _____ (ready, thinner, less scared, more certain, less busy, richer, more organized)”. We sit on our knowledge of what needs to be done. This type of ‘wait’ slows us down. Our lack of action lets crud build up around the related parts of our lives. It’s like seeing an overflowing trashcan, but taking no action to empty it.
Can you recognize yourself in either of these types of ‘waits’? If so, I’d encourage you to snap out of your dream, look around at your reality, and do the thing you know to do, even if it’s not the perfect time to do so.
Things become different when we make them different.
In the midst of all our imperfections.
Could you relate to either of these two types of ‘waits’? What are you waiting for? What could you get started with today? Leave a comment below!