Patience is a strong quality that is often underestimated and for many extremely difficult to have. It is one of those attributes that can come naturally to some and is acquired with training and self-awareness by others. What does it mean to be patient and why is it so critical?
While at a café chatting with Monica, a friend from San Francisco, we happened to talk about life and some events she recently went through, including the end of her most important relationship. Monica was born in Melbourne and moved to America many years ago. She is a beautiful and successful woman who runs her own business, is independent, and radiates positive energy. She was telling me how, over the last few months, she changed her perspective and understood the importance of being patient.
As a young girl, Monica was passionate and impulsive. The first time she visited the U.S., she was just a teenager: Some of her relatives, including her dad, had moved there and she had “a wild curiosity about the country.” She had also met an American man in Melbourne and wanted to join him, so she first arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, on a 6-month tourist visa looking for new adventures.
When her visa expired, she found herself truly wanting to return home, pining for her friends, as being very young, she felt lonely. Once home, Monica had an epiphany: “When I was filling myself with everything I thought I had missed out on, I realized that I had begun a journey and I had to keep going,” she said, and continued, “He (her boyfriend) had not wanted me to leave; he was from New York and asked me if I would think of going back.
“After those three days, I just knew I needed to go back.” When she tried to obtain a new visa, the U.S. authorities became suspicious of her wanting to return to America that early, so they requested additional documentation. Monica did not hesitate to lie in order to follow her dream. She stated that she would not remain there over the allowed period of time and borrowed a sum of money to show that she had some savings in her bank account. She then convinced her former employer to write a letter stating that she had a job and was just on a leave of absence. Monica had to promise that she was not going to overstay her visa, but in her heart, she already knew that was not the truth. She was granted a visa and was able to remain. Many times she felt lonely but did not give up as she was aware that her journey had just begun.
She was an illegal immigrant for a few years and started to work as a nanny. One day, her partner came home and said he had quit his job and was going to go back to Australia. Once again, Monica knew that she could not follow him and moved in with the family she was baby-sitting for. She was also doing some cleaning jobs and in the process of dating different men, she met the love of her life. They went out for two and a half years, then got married. The couple had a child and spent a long time together before they split up. They went separate ways for some time, but could not stay apart and rekindled their love.
Monica made many courageous decisions in her life; however, not all of them were wise due to her impulsivity and lack of patience. She would always try to push things and events and this is why she would often find herself in trouble, particularly with those she loved.
Some months ago, the relationship with the love of her life ended. After a period of grief and closure, Monica’s resilience kicked in and she stood up with a new perspective. She left her house and flew to Australia to spend time away with her parents and old friends in order to clear her mind. Just like a blossoming flower, she entered a new stage of her life, where she feels free, open, and positive. In this transformation, she understood the importance of patience. “The biggest value of patience that I am discovering is unfolding to me… being able to make clearer decisions to not being as emotionally reactive in my decision process,” she said.
Monica believes that: “In the past, I had so many arguments because of my impatience… and it led to a multitude of difficult situations…” When she thinks of the one thing she tried to push the most, which did not turn out the best, she believes that she really was impatient with her partner. She kept expecting him to be the father and partner she wanted him to be, rather than letting things go.
Patience is directly linked to acceptance and forbearance. We often expect things to go as we plan, for people to behave the way we want, and we are not willing to make anything different. This not only burdens our hearts with ongoing expectations and pain, but it also creates conflicts with others and closes us down to new opportunities and changes. Life does not often develop according to our projections.
When Monica reflects on her journey so far, she believes that until now she did not have the maturity to put patience into place. Looking ahead: “I feel that I’ll just keep my heart open and not push too much for anything… so I want to be patient and not pushing on something that is not yet unfolding. My plan is mostly to sit with things and allow them into my body instead of going into fighting-them-off mode.”
There is something beautiful and special in letting the universe talk to us and lead us by the hand, in listening to its messages and reading its signs. Sometimes what we wish for is very different from what we truly need, but we are so caught up in our everyday lives and interests that we fail to see it. Being able to connect with ourselves also means connecting with everything and everyone around us, connecting with the wider universe. It means receiving deeper and more meaningful answers to our most intimate and secret questions. All of this cannot be done without patience, and patience cannot be achieved and put into place without self-discipline.
If Monica could talk to her “younger self, who was all about adventures and didn’t want to miss out on anything,” she would say: “Find a quiet time. Remember to be quiet and still. Let things unfold. Don’t rush into things.” This is also her advice to young people in today’s society, a society that has almost completely replaced “to be” with “to have.”