Waiting. What does it mean? If you feel like you’re constantly waiting in the wings, just waiting for the big moment – the job, the wedding, the partner, the event, what does that look like and what does it mean for your experience? Further, “waiting in the wings” generally means you’re ready and willing, just waiting for the cue. You’re not doing anything but waiting, but you are prepared for action when it calls. By definition, to wait is to delay or postpone until a certain time, or until something occurs. This comes along with two concepts: a) that waiting is temporary. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the concept of waiting.
Photo credit: 1950sUnlimited | CC BY
Waiting is temporary
Nobody ever plans to wait forever, right? Waiting for a promotion means staying in a certain position only until, and maybe only because, a better opportunity is coming along. Sometimes we have a timeframe for the things we’re waiting for in life… Our superior might’ve told us that they’ll be offering someone a promotion in 6 months. Or, we have no clue, which puts us in a sometimes uncomfortable state of limbo. Perhaps they didn’t mention a promotion at all, but a co-worker in the same position was recently promoted, so it’s obviously a possibility. Either way, we don’t assume we’ll be waiting for a promotion indefinitely.
(And what about those who aren’t waiting? Is the act of not waiting temporary too? If we’re happy in our positions, isn’t it likely that at some point we’ll want something more, and then play the waiting game again?)
Waiting is dependent
In the case of the job promotion waiting is dependent on plenty of factors outside the control of the employee. The employee can’t get a promotion without the boss offering it, and there are all sorts of variables like whether the company can financially offer a promotion, whether it’s necessary for the scope of the work, IF, IF, IF… This is truly a “waiting in the wings” scenario, especially to those who find career growth important.
And in another situation often (most often) presented along with the waiting game: love. What else CAN you do? You’re ready to make a commitment but you literally can’t until you meet the right person. The entire thing depends on a meeting that you can’t even begin to predict the timeframe or factors of. (Why do you think it’s such a big deal?)
And a third, less life-altering example: If you’re a student waiting for a final exam to come back, you’re counting on a few things. It’s pretty reasonable to assume that your test results will come back eventually, so in this case it makes sense to wait. You’re dependent on your professors and administrators to give you the results, so it’s pretty much beyond your control at this point.
Waiting and action
The purpose of the three examples above is to show that there are varying degrees of action you can take with each. When you’re waiting for something that’s 100% dependent on someone else, like a test result, this is waiting in the most obvious sense. You’ll have to wait until that score is available. Same with a job interview – you interview, you send a thank-you email, you wait. Wait. Wait. But what are you DOING in the waiting time? This is where it gets messy. Because while the result may not be in your control – there are ultimately greater forces at work here – LIFE is not a “wait it out” sort of thing. Humans are capable of so much, of action. We try to control as much as we can, knowing that there is so much we can’t. For the promotion, your boss makes the final decision, but you can likely increase your changes of the promotion by being active, efficient, responsible, etc., at work – to a degree.
When it comes to these big question marks we should expect to make some adjustments. You have to think that perhaps waiting in the wings isn’t how your time is best served… that maybe what you’re waiting for won’t happen in the sense that you’re imagining or planning. For finding love? You have to be open to it, be ready – but also aware of the fact that it’s only partially up to you. You have to put yourself out there which necessitates a degree of vulnerability and most importantly, the willingness to untie yourself from the very specific 5 year plan (or whatever it is) you’ve made – because when do the big things in life ever happen in remotely the way we envision them?
I’ve posted talks from Touré Roberts before, but I love this one on “the meantime”. I find it very motivational. I hope you appreciate it as well! xox