We live in a culture in which we have become accustomed to things happening fast. Food is fast, online order deliveries are often same day, and never are we less impatient than when we want results.
Whether those results are financial investments, weight loss, social media followers or our wellbeing. Maybe especially our wellbeing.
The danger in getting things quickly is that we have become more likely to jump to the conclusion that a strategy or plan is ineffective because it hasn’t worked. Yet.
Logically we know that progress takes time, but that doesn't stop us from becoming wildly frustrated when the work is being done and we have nothing to show for it.
In case this is coming across as preachy, know that I count myself in the group of people who are impatient; I also become discouraged when I feel like there has not been an obvious and rapid output that I feel that my input deserves.
However, recently something occurred that reminded me that our preference for speed is not really the natural order of things.
Every so often I buy those orchids from the grocery store. (I always buy the ‘blood spatter’ variety in case any of you are Dexter fans). They are always in bloom when you buy them, and they look super cool. Invariably, within weeks the blooms fade and then you have an awkward pot with leaves with nothing to attach the stakes to.
I would water them for a bit, but usually by month three or four, I would grow bored of the flowerless flower and dump it.
3 years ago, I bought a gorgeous blood spatter orchid, the blooms faded, but I kept taking care of it. Water, light, pull off a yellow leaf here and there. The leaves grew lopsided, and it never looked great, but I persisted. Honestly, I’m not sure why, but I presume stubbornness had something to do with it. Occasionally, I would get annoyed and think I would get rid of it, but I couldn’t. I felt invested in that stupid plant.
Right before the holidays the ugly stems got little balls on them and my first thought was that my plant had developed some sort of disease, likely brought on by my ineptitude.
Then, the craziest thing happened. When I came back to my office after the New Year it had bloomed. Actual, new blood spatter blooms! This unimpressive lopsided thing had become something amazing again. That didn’t happen because I know a damn thing about orchids. It happened because I didn’t quit on it.
All these years, nature had been given time and the basics of care and growth was occurring. No one could see it. No one knew it was happening, and yet it arrived on its own time.
And it made me wonder. What if we all took as consistent care of ourselves as we could. What if we didn’t give up on ourselves, become impatient? What might we blossom into?
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About the Author:
Kimberly May, LPC-S, LMFT is a therapist at Substance Use Therapy in Austin, TX. Kimberly works with individuals, couples and families whose lives have been affected by substance use. By utilizing a harm reduction framework, Kimberly works effectively with people in any stage of use. In addition to substance use, she works with other issues such as anger, burn-out, anxiety and grief. Contact today to schedule a no-charge, 30 minute, in-person consultation.