Be patient without agonising
If I were to think of the most intriguing piece of advice that I received this year, it would be the one that gives the title of this article. About six months ago, at the recommendation of a former teacher, I booked a session with an astrologist. It wasn’t my kind of thing, but during an existential crisis, one considers even the most unlikely suggestions. This astrology session soon turned into more of a philosophical therapy session. I didn’t expect the stars to have answers to my existential crisis to begin with, so what I took away from that session was: “be patient without agonising”.
I am a master of agonising, it’s what has always driven me to seek better things, to achieve impressive results in short periods of time (mainly academically). However, after a bout of intense goal-oriented activity, I am prone to burnout and disappointment.
Some say that comfortable enough is the worst position one can find themselves in: no real incentive to make changes. When it’s really bad, one has to take action. When it’s not bad enough, we think we can endure a little longer and we somehow fall into the magical thinking trap — somehow things should get better, right?
I was under the impression that somehow life seems to settle for most people at some point. Not ideal, but settled. Not reaching peace, but not in pieces either. The trouble here is: what is settled? Where is the point when one can say that they feel are on the right track and wouldn’t have any regrets if tomorrow it all came to an end?
Not long ago, I discovered that most of the people who appear to be successful on the outside seem to have some secret wishes. To do something that matters more. To have a partner that can inspire them to grow as opposed to maybe hindering some of the growth that they are aspiring to. To explore some old forgotten talent that was locked in a drawer somewhere and gathered dust. Morale of the story: we’re all in this together.
Some people seem to have the natural ability to position themselves on the right side of… history. Others seem to always be swimming against the current. Some tend to take failures personally: “the whole world is against me!”. Others seem to just say: “unlucky” and move on, try harder the next time.
Ideas and products come in and out of fashion at ever increasing speeds. The world is changing rapidly, technological advancements transform society in a deep sense. Patience can be destructive without a sense of awareness and purpose. Motivation grows or decreases depending on the feedback loop that our activities create. I believe that values and character will become more and more important, to help guide our decisions in front of adversity. There are moments when the best thing to do is throw in the towel and try a different approach or a pursue a different goal altogether. And there are moments when we just have to be patient. Without agonising.