Little by Little
One step and then another,
And the longest walk is ended;
Once stitch and then another,
And the largest rent is mended;
One brick upon another,
And the highest wall is made;
One flake upon another,
And the deepest snow is laid.
Then do not look disheartened
O’er the work you have to do,
And say that such a mighty task
You never can get through;
But just endeavor, day by day,
Another point to gain;
And soon the mountain which you feared
Will prove to be a plain.
‘Rome was not built within one day’,
The ancient proverb teaches;
And Nature, by her trees and flowers,
The same sweet sermon preaches.
Think not of far-off duties,
But of duties which are near;
And, having once begun to work,
Resolve to persevere.
A copy of the above poem was given to me by a friend and colleague as she departed to another job. It is currently pinned to my notice board at work, always in sight, to remind me the value of patience.
The proverbial phrase ‘patience is a virtue’ is, in my opinion, one of the truest statements ever said. In our current modern world, everything is instant. You can search for information and have the answer back in seconds with a quick internet search. Almost everything we could ever want is just the click of a button away. Why wait in a queue when you can order what you want online and have it delivered to your door? Food, clothes, furniture, conversation, it is all available at lightning speed online. So why wait for anything? Why do we need patience in this fast-paced world we have become accustomed to?
Patience is a virtue. It comes in many forms whether it is waiting for the cheese to melt on chips, waiting for your child to learn that screaming won’t get them what they want, or waiting for yourself to work through the stages of grief. Patience is needed but often hard to put into practice. I find that it isn’t patience with other people or things that we have the most trouble with, but patience with ourselves. We grow up wanting to become an adult so badly, waiting and waiting, impatient for the freedom that comes with being independent. We dream of getting the college course we want, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect partner, the perfect children. When adulthood finally comes around, we expect what we want to happen instantly, like our internet searches. Eventually the reality hits in; we have to be patient, we have to wait.
When what we want doesn’t come as quickly as we had hoped we have a terrible habit of losing patience with ourselves. We start to blame, berate and bully ourselves for the imagined shortcomings we have that are holding us back. Why didn’t I save more money? Why am I not learning fast enough? Why did I make this decision? Why didn’t I see this coming? Why can’t I get a high paying job? Why can’t I afford to buy a house? Why can’t I do it? Why is it working out for everyone else? There must be something wrong with me. I must be stupid. I must not be trying hard enough. I must not be good enough. I’ll never achieve anything.
We are so quick to convince ourselves that there is something wrong with us. In a world of social media where we only show our successes, it is easy to think everyone else has the perfect life and that we are getting left behind. It is easy to think ‘what is the point?’ and give up. Just because something isn’t easy and takes time, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. We need to slow down and remember that good things come to those who wait. Focus on the little steps you can take every day to work towards you goals. Don’t knock yourself down because others are achieving their goals faster than you. Why should we expect the journey to achieving our own goals in life to be the same as someone else’s? Every life is different with its own unique experiences, how could our journeys possibly be the same?
The beginning of the year is a time for fresh starts and new goals. As you continue into this year, remember to be patient with yourself. Whatever promises you have made to yourself for this year make sure they are realistic, and what you really want to do. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a slip or aren’t doing as well as you thought. Don’t berate yourself for not doing as well as someone else. Try to focus on the steps YOU have taken to achieve your goals, no matter how small they may seem. Life is not a race, so be kind and patient with yourself this year, as well as remembering to savor every moment instead of letting your mind race off ahead of you.
Wishing you all the best for this year!