You know what’s the absolute worst? Waiting in line at the doctor’s office.
There’s a lot of anxiety around that, am I right? Nobody likes waiting at the doctor’s office because we all secretly think that the doctor’s just sitting behind a closed door somewhere, doing wheelies in an office chair, watching the minutes churn past with glee as they browse the latest in cutting edge Pinterest gardening techniques while the rest of us waste away huddled together in a sea of plastic orange non-moveable chairs, watching somebody else’s kid struggle to make an alphabet block tower, listening to some loud talker named Rog while wondering HOW MUCH LONGER THE LADY ACROSS FROM YOU IS GOING TO HOG THE SPRING 2003 EDITION OF READER’S DIGEST.
You know what else is the worst? Waiting in line at the cold cut counter. You never know if you should take a ticket, am I right? Sometimes you walk into a deli and there are people who give you the yoga-pant-death-stare-combo if you so much as even GLANCE at the Virginia Baked Ham, as if they’re v v threatened by the mere fact that you even dared to step foot into this sacred salami space. There they are, boxing you out with their shopping cart / stroller / reusable shopping bag combo and you’re like, “Calm down, Lululemon, I’M GETTING MY TICKET, ALRIGHT?”
Should I even get into the joys of waiting to get off the airplane?
The truth is, there are plenty of things in life that are going to require you to suck it up and just WAIT. There are plenty of things that are just going to require you to be patient, wait your turn, obey authority, ask for permission, follow the rules, and form an orderly line. We know this. We do this. We do this every day. In fact, we do it so much, that it’s slowly but surely become our default setting, because it’s easier to apply the rules across the board than it is to test them in every new situation. (Lest risk getting knifed by yoga-pant-death-stare lady.)
So as a result, we wait to be told what to do all the time—even in situations when we don’t have to anymore. Even in situations when it’s actually become a clear and obvious disadvantage for us to wait any longer. Specifically, situations like your career. Because let’s be honest: if you’re hating your job / life / work and waiting around patiently for “something good to come your way,” The Committee of True and Actual Greatness™—what I call the fictitious organization we’re all secretly waiting for approval from—is never going to run up to you and say, “Hey, you know what? I’ve been thinking, and you’re really doing work that’s beneath you. But don’t worry, I’ve gone ahead and set you up with this brand new career, and you’ll even be your own boss, and you’ll be doing this remarkably fulfilling creative work like you always wanted. Here you go, kid! THE PLEASURE IS ALL MINE.”
Never gonna happen. You can wait all you want, but that little gem’s never coming down the pipeline.
So why do we keep waiting for it to?
Why do you stroll through the halls of your office building waiting to be noticed?
Why do you do the work that eats your heart alive, hoping that someone will give you a better opportunity…soon?
Ironically, waiting has become the new shortcut to certainty. And since WE’RE ALL SO DESPERATE TO BE CERTAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING, we’d rather wait around and torture ourselves every single minute of our lives in favor of feeling sure about something, anything, than we would make the change / take the leap / do the thing / try something outrageous….and risk not having that certainty to fall back on.
What’s not being acknowledged, of course, is that “certainty” was never something you wanted—until the day you forgot what you did.