I recently found myself as a guest speaker at the matric awards function at my former school. When I speak at school events, I usually talk about what I wish someone had told me at that age – finding my passion, overcoming fears and the importance of perseverance. This time, however, I found myself focusing closely on one thing; patience. Being a young speaker closer to their generation, I cautioned them that we were losing a fundamental characteristic integral to a successful life; patience. My generation is born into an instant gratification era where a click of a button causes direct change from switching television channels, controlling the temperature, to immediate interaction on a mind-boggling array of communication devices. We are an emerging generation of impatient, indulgent millennials who expect change to be instantaneous.
The problem is, for change to be successful, it has to be gradual. Ideas take time to develop; opinions have to be weighed, struggle has to be endured, perceptions have to be accepted and growth has to happen from the bottom up. The natural process is for things to develop enough for them to become permanent. Instant change is almost always temporary because there is no history of habit to fall back on. It’s impulsive and while impulse is good for some things, like action for instance, it does not bear the brevity of consultation, understanding and research when it comes to making significant change.
The other point to bear is that real life is not like that. You don’t instantly get the correct career, the perfect job or right partner. In fact, some people never get these things. I left high school with a report card full of As but it took me 2 years of dropping out of 3 different degrees for me to realise what I wanted to do with my life. It devastated me at the time because my future was so uncertain, but in retrospect it helped me to develop into who I am today; someone who through trial and error has come to understand where her passions lie. If I had not undergone that experience I’m not so certain I would have embraced words the way I have now. The struggle was part of the experience. Patience is part of understanding what life is about. The ability to be still in a constantly sprinting world will keep you steady and will help you bear far more without breaking. That is what, I wish someone had told me when I was seventeen.
Stillness, I’ve come to find is an art. It is something extremely rare but when you find it, when you accept whatever happens to you in life, you find a refuge that becomes stronger and easier to return to.
Good things take time. It takes time to fix things, to find a good partner, to build a relationship, to learn and to understand. As long as you make the effort and have patience, change will surely come… eventually.
(First published 3 February 2013, Sunday Tribune)