“Do you think I’m patient?”, I asked my girlfriend. She looked at me, smirked and looked away. I could tell that she was trying to hold back a laugh.
For most of my childhood and adolescence I was under the impression that I was impatient. I suppose I had most of the characteristics of being impatient; I would always fidget, mess about in school, stop paying attention easily and I would bore easily.
Teachers hated me. I was judged to be a trouble maker at school and deemed a failure in comparison to the usual suspects. These were the types who always handed in their homework on time. The types who had no rough edges and as a result no real substance or character.
Then at some point in my life I started to accomplish things both academically and in my personal life…
But how can this be?
If I am so impatient, how did I spend all those sleepless nights diligently studying away? If I am so impatient, then how have I accomplished any of the meaningful things I have done in my life?
I do still get impatient much more than the average person in certain circumstances; slow service in restaurants, I get impatient when dealing with people who don’t get ideas or how to complete a task after explaining the same thing to them a few times and so on. However, when it comes to long-term goals or tasks that take a lot of persistence with no short-term goals, I have noticed that I am probably one of the most patient people I know.
Perhaps, we need to make a distinction between long-term patience and short-term patience.
Is short-term patience really such a good thing? I was reprimanded many times for being “impatient” when I was young. But perhaps it just showed that I’ve always just wanted to get things done. It seems that short term patience gets confused with long-term patience. But what’s the point in having long term ambitions and patience when you’re not taking any action in the present?
It strikes me that the English language does not have words to differentiate between short-term and long-term patience. Perhaps long term patience is actually what a lot of people call “driven”?`