Just stating the obvious here, but I don’t know anyone who enjoys waiting for things.
And yet, we do it all the time. According to this study, American collectively spend 37 billion hours waiting - and that's just waiting in lines (what a waste!).
But there’s other things we’re waiting for that can’t be so easily quantified. Maybe you’re waiting for things to return to “normal”, a spouse, a job promotion, a health issue to resolve, to conceive a child, an apology from someone unlikely to give it … the list goes on and on.
Waiting for those kinds of things often means we don’t get to control the “when”. We’re left to let thoughts race in our minds, or tempted to despair, “will the wait never end?”
Waiting for those kinds of things often means we don’t get to control the “when”.
For a person like me who loves control, well, I’m not great at waiting…
When I’m struggling with waiting, I’m anxious, I lose sleep, and I’m easily angered - even at people who have nothing to do with what I’m waiting for. When the waiting is really bad, I experience this deep angst that can only be described as a “soul-ache”.
This summer I was going through the “soul-ache” type of waiting in anticipation of two things: for the apartment remodel to finish and for the birth of our first child.
Letting rage fuel my creativity
I know, an apartment remodel does not logically compare with the birth of my baby, but emotions can’t always be reasoned with. I think the anger over the remodel was something tangible for me to get angry at. Because I had no control over my insides (pregnancy), I sought to demand control over my outside environment.
Blame it on bad management or blame it on pregnancy hormones… my sense of angst over the chaos of construction quickly spiraled into rage. My poor husband tried his best to help me through it. When my husband’s patience ran low, I ranted to my friends about how poorly we were being treated as renters.
I tried my best to reason with the management about the poor timing of the construction and how it was affecting my daily life as a very pregnant woman.
I’m not proud to admit it, but sometimes I’d add an extra hitch in my waddle as I passed the construction workers on my way up the three flights of stairs to our apartment (I hoped they’d take pity on me and work faster). For all I tried, nothing assuaged my anger.
That is, until a stroke of brilliance hit me when I was in the shower one morning.
This is the remodel that never ends…
I chuckled to myself as the familiar children’s camp melody played in my head. The rest of the verses just came to me:
This is the remodel that never ends…
We’ve got no say ‘cuz we pay rent
Some people started remod-ling
A year ago today
They’ll “be another month or so”
That’s always what they say…
I chuckled again at my creative brilliance and spent the next few days adding verses to my song. Here it is:
As I wrote, I felt like I was granting legitimacy to my feelings about the construction chaos. I wasn’t really justifying my feelings; I was simply hearing myself out. It’s like the absurdity of the construction chaos began to feel funny to me, instead of infuriating.
Reading through the song (and yes, memorizing it so I could sing it any time I wanted) gave me a go-to coping mechanism when I heard the guys hammering on the roof and felt my anxiety rise up. I could simply shake my head, pack up my things, and leave the apartment for the day in search of some place quiet.
And of course, construction finished within 2 weeks of me finishing that song! I’m not saying it sped up the waiting process, but I must have been so blinded by rage that I didn’t realize the whole thing was almost over. Humorous creative writing was the distraction I needed.
Finding the humor in the wait
So, to recap, my situation didn’t immediately change. What changed was my mindset:
This is unfair > this is ridiculous > this is actually kinda humorous.
Changing my mindset helped me get “unstuck” from focusing on what I can’t control. It empowered me to be creative about what I can actually change about my situation.
"This is unfair > this is ridiculous > this is actually kinda humorous."
Now here’s the caveat: I’m also not talking about using humor as a “bandaid” to cover up real pain. Humor like this can’t be contrived, but it can be created. But this is your responsibility, not someone else’s. It’s better for YOU as the sufferer to discover the humor in your situation, rather than some unsuspecting friend saying, “At least [insert humorous platitude]…”. (Yeah, that never helps anything.)
I wish there were a set of steps that I could give you to put this into practice. But your discovery of humor will be unique to you: what makes you laugh? What’s your unique situation?
So if you haven't watched it yet, here's my comical parody... if it doesn’t help get you started in your creative discovery, at least it’ll make you laugh.
Comment below: Have you ever found humor in the waiting periods of life? Share and help us laugh along with you!
Healing from grief, destructive thinking and/or emotional pain can be scary and messy. Through Creative Life Coaching, I help my clients learn to understand and externalize "the mess" inside- and find beauty in the midst of it.
If you'd like some guidance in navigating your own healing process AND you're interested in maybe doing it through art, you can learn more about Creative Life Coaching here.