Waiting is What Happens in the Gap, And It's Hard

I voted. I donated. I volunteered. Now, I wait for the election results. Albeit, on pins and needles. 

I’m not alone in waiting. Not now; not ever. Many aspects of your life may differ from mine (or anyone else reading this), but waiting on or for something or someone — this, we all have in common. 

Because waiting is a part of life. And yet, doing so can be hard as heck. 

Painfully hard, at times, depending upon what you’re waiting on or for.

It can be hard for a variety of reasons. 

Sometimes it’s because you want immediate answers and gratification, and immediacy is out of the question. At other times, it’s because you want to control the outcome and the timing of said – and can’t.

Waiting For?

Just think of the myriad of situations for which either of the above may apply. Are you waiting for:

  • Test results – a medical diagnosis or school exam
  • Financing – for the lender to approve your mortgage application or your business loan
  • A “yes” to your business proposal or pitch
  • A prognosis after an emergency
  • The subway
  • The light to turn green

I purposefully provided a range that includes the serious and the more mundane to emphasize the point that you and I wait for ALL types of things and outcomes. And depending on what the “thing” is – is it potentially traumatic (e.g., a medical diagnosis) or merely anticipatory (e.g., the traffic light)? – will determine if the waiting feels like an eternity, even if the time according to the clock is short.  

Similarly, waiting exposes what you really feel uncertain about. Does the other side of the gap give you another chance…or, is it final?

How Do You Wait?

When you reflect on your history with waiting, how do you handle times of waiting? Especially when you don’t know what the outcome will be? Especially when you’ve done all you could and there’s nothing else you can do to change the situation or influence the potential outcome?

At the risk of stating the obvious, not all waiting is equal. But that difference is what usually determines when your waiting turns into worrying. (Btw: If you can’t easily answer the question of how you handle times of waiting, pay attention to your body. Notice where in your body “worrying” is showing up.)

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: Whilst we all have to wait, how we each wait is very different.

For example, do you frantically wait, or do you wait in peace? Do you protect your space and energy while you wait? Or, do you prioritize other people’s need? What role does what you’re waiting on or for play in regards to your “how?”

Waiting on the election results inspired this piece, but it also made me think of a more personal story: This summer, while waiting on medical results, I shared the situation with only a few people. Primarily because of the inevitable questions I’d get from very caring folks. Sure, some of those questions may have been useful and could have informed my follow-up conversation with my doctor. But from past experience, I also know that more than likely the questions would have only made me even more anxious because of the answers I didn’t have. (Thankfully, I’m fine.)

This is the point of me sharing this story: 

How you wait has a lot to do with the boundaries you create, so you can take care of yourself as you navigate the emotions that emerge in the gap

But whether it’s my personal story, or the angst I have about the election, or its you taking inventory of what it is on which you’re waiting, here are a few things that can be revealed in the gap whilst you wait:

Clarity

You get real clear, real fast about what’s important to you when you’re waiting on an outcome that means a lot to you. You also get clear on the best way to share and use your energy, time and resources (including money).

Strength

Granted, this is likely what you’ll discover in hindsight. But, when you look back, what you’ll notice are the muscles that were strengthened – be it emotional, physical, spiritual, financial – whilst you were waiting.

(Greater) Self-Awareness

As the title of this piece states, waiting is all about what is happening in the gap. This is not always a fun, comfortable, or a preferred space to be in. Yet, it’s here that you’ll usually learn more about who you really are, what you really want, and who and what are really important to you. You’ll learn what behavior and ways of thinking you tend to default to when waiting becomes hard.

The Thing About the Gap

Whether, like me, you’re on pins and needles regarding the November 3, 2020 U.S. election results. Or, you’re waiting on some other answer or outcome, remember this:

Waiting challenges us

It might challenge you to be (more) patient. It might challenge your faith. It might challenge you to be (more) resourceful. 

It may even challenge you to shift your perspective and reconcile what you thought could/should/would be – with what is.

It might challenge you to remember that waiting only seems passive. But it really isn’t. Having hope and expectancy require active engagement. 

Also, waiting is a humbling experience. 

Because it doesn’t matter who you are, you are likely currently waiting on or for something you don’t have…and want. 

In other words, waiting is a human thing

So, whatever it is you’re waiting on or for, wait as best you can in full awareness that your “best” may look different today than it did yesterday or may look tomorrow. Can’t get much more human than that, eh?! 🙂

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