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The Skillful Art of Waiting

by Matt Walton, Career Ambassador ‘22 Jan 31, 2022

Although many of us consider our lives to be fast paced, there are nonetheless moments in each day when we have to do what we dislike most: wait.

Whether it is waiting in line for the beloved Macaroni and Cheese Bar at the DUC, or something more long-term like waiting to hear back from an employer or graduate school, most people find this process to be painful. Human beings, by their very nature, desire to know everything about everything, and the uncertainty of waiting is abhorrent to that thirst for knowledge. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, states this truth by saying that “the rational creature desires to know all things.” So when we don’t know something, we get frustrated.

The “waiting game,” as it is sometimes called, can be very stressful, but learning how to navigate the anxiety in this period can help make it more peaceful. For example, someone who has submitted applications, undergone an interview process, and is anticipating hearing back about a job application has done all that they can– and now has to simply sit back and wait for the result of their efforts. Below, allow me to provide three ways to make the waiting process more bearable and possibly, enjoyable. 

Make time for contemplation.

As stated earlier, when you are waiting to hear back regarding a job, internship, or graduate school, you must accept that the process is now out of your hands. Fear can sometimes be useful when it motivates us to be better and to take what is ahead of us seriously, but someone who is waiting has no reason to be fearful because what will happen is out of the applicant’s hands. Take some time for silent reflection and if helpful, turn off social media or email for a day and give yourself authentic time to relax without the distraction of digital media.

Surround yourself with those who will build you up.

Sometimes upon feeling stressed or anxious, we can have a tendency to lock ourselves in private spaces to be alone. I do not recommend this strategy! Rather, try to surround yourself with positive people who will continue to affirm you in these trying times. Ask a friend to go on a walk, grab a coffee, or any activity that you enjoy which can help you get your mind off of the waiting process.

Find peace in either outcome.

As you wait to see if you have been chosen or not, begin to take some time to think about both outcomes. It can be helpful to come up with pros and cons for either outcome, because no outcome is ever going to be perfectly good or completely bad. Once you develop pros and cons, begin to find peace in either situation by looking at the opportunity realistically and not merely idealistically. We cannot control the outcomes of life, but we can control how we react to them. 

As you undergo your own waiting process, I hope that these steps can provide a helpful way to make this process less stressful and anxiety inducing. Navigating the waiting process is very important because only then you will be able to enjoy what is to come. Good luck in the process, your Career Development Center believes in you! 

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