Monday, May 2, 2011

Is Patience Overrated?

I was browsing through one of my favorite stores this weekend and came across a display of refrigerator magnets. Amid the humorous and opinionated ones, I found one that made me think "ain't that the truth"! Afraid of what it might say about me, I left it in it's place and continued looking at the others. But my attention kept coming back to the same one.  Finally, I gave in and bought it. It was just so me.

As I slipped out of the store feeling like a teenage girl buying her first personal care item--afraid of being seen--I asked myself, "What's the big deal? It's a refrigerator magnet!" It took me a few minutes to realize my discomfort came from the fact that the view the magnet expressed, "patience is such a waste of time", went against everything I'd ever been taught. Have you ever heard the saying "good things come to those who wait"? Or "patience is a virtue"? And have you ever read a glowing recommendation about someone, whether personal or professional, that included the attribute of "patient"?

But when you get down to it, is being patient always a good thing? Sure, I understand the importance of it when you're teaching a kindergardener to tie his shoe, but should the same courtesy be given to a teenager who has been told three times to pick up their shoes?

I'm not advocating being rude here. Being respectful of others can go a long way toward a peaceful existence, toward getting what you want. But when I think about all the time that is wasted in the name of patience, I can't help but feel it's overrated. Have you ever stayed on hold on the telephone for an obscene amount of time because you felt you had no other choice? On a deeper scale, have you ever been on a non-productive path but stayed the course because you thought being patient would pay off in the long run?

It's a fine line, but there comes a point when being patient becomes lazy and gullible. Lazy because you don't want to make the effort to do what's necessary to ensure "good things" come your way when there's still a chance that waiting patiently could bring them to you. And gullible because you have bought into the belief that, other than being patient, there is nothing you can do to make things turn out the way you want.

It makes me think of my senior year in high school when we were taking pictures for the yearbook. Our Journalism teacher asked each of us, "Of all the students, whose picture is the most important?" The honest answer, of course, is "mine". And when it comes to being patient, I think the same scenerio applies. Whose time is more important?

Sorry for the rant, but I appreciate your patience.

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