We live in an on-demand world. We can find answers, see almost anything, and even have material goods we need in our hands almost instantly, through just a few clicks, swipes and taps. The phrase that comes to mind most readily when thinking about this type of existence is “instant gratification,” although I’m not sure that’s quite right, since it’s a short-lived sense of contentment. You want it, you find it, you get it, and then…what’s next? Gotta be something, right?
We don’t spend a lot of time flexing our muscles in patience, discomfort or boredom. We don’t need to. There’s always something else to look at, do, or procure. Until, of course, we stumble into something that doesn’t seem to respond to our usual tricks of the distraction trade.
A few examples of that space? Well, look at your life right now.
How am I supposed to get all of this done in time for these hovering deadlines? When will I hear if I’m getting an interview? What about that internship/job offer/promotion? Why does it feel like everyone but me has the answers???
Life – and especially the seasons of it when you’re preparing for or making transitions – is full of uncertainty, and unfortunately, plenty of things that are outside of your control. Yeah, sure, there are lots of things that you can turn to for avoiding discomfort in each of these cases, but it doesn’t work for long, if at all.
Hate to say it, but you really don’t have much choice but to learn how to deal with it.
I know, I know. That’s not what you wanted to hear. But dealing with it doesn’t necessarily mean suffering through it.
In mindfulness, we often talk about the principle of “acceptance,” which in this context means recognizing what aspects of your reality are out of your control, and accepting that. This is different than kicking back and watching the world go by, because you can certainly make mindful, intentional and powerful steps towards enacting change. But first, you have to accept that what is, is.
An example of this would be getting stuck in frustration because it’s raining on…well, let’s just go with it…your parade. Can you change the fact that it’s raining? No. But you can make alternate plans to change the date, or somehow move the party inside. Whatever it is, you can’t put your brain to work on revising your plans if it’s stuck on being angry that the original ones didn’t work out.
The same principle applies to the wishing, hoping and waiting that goes hand in hand with many aspects of MBA life. So, you submitted your application and now you want to know if you’re getting an interview. Is there anything you can do to make that happen sooner? Nope. (No, calling Admissions or HR or whoever, in this case, in NOT advisable). All you can do is wait, and of course, breathe.
And if you don’t get the yes you were hoping for, what’s your strategy then? First, acceptance. Then, Plan B, or C, or even D. You don’t have to give up on being fulfilled, but you do have to let go of the thing that isn’t happening.
As Joseph Campbell says, “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Even if that means letting go of your preference for “right now” and accepting the reality of “soon enough.” Even if that means hearing “no thanks” when you want to hear “YES, please.” Even if that means diving into that extra work, when you wish it wasn’t required.
Even if that means accepting exactly where you are in this moment, so you can move forward from there.
Resistance to the truth creates a lot of unnecessary suffering. Let it go, so you can shine on, right into whatever comes next.
Photo credit: Luke Marshall