by Jessica Wilkerson, LMFT 104464
Waiting can be excruciating!
When you know what you want, you want it.
There’s a famous experiment that we all learn about in grad school in my field and it’s called The Marshmallow Experiment. Four-year-olds are individually left in a room alone with a marshmallow on a plate. They’re told that if they can resist eating the marshmallow, then when the proctor returns they will get a second marshmallow. If they ate that marshmallow, then they don’t get a second one. The video of these kids trying to resist the marshmallow is hilarious! There are not many distractions in that room, so these children have to be very intentional, and the wait is excruciatingly long, like fifteen minutes or so (I don’t remember the exact details, it’s been a long while since I’ve seen that video).
They later tracked those children down to see how they did in life. The children who were able to resist eating the marshmallow (delayed gratification) grew up to be very successful adults. They were able to create big goals for themselves, wade through various life temptations, and see those goals to fruition. What a correlation between marshmallow patience and later lifeskills!
This is an example that I’m using to remind you that it’s okay to be stuck in the waiting. It’s hard. Sometimes it hurts.
The waiting can be lonely, and you don’t actually know if the end result will manifest. It’s in the in-between phase of life (between someone offering you a marshmallow and waiting for the second one to arrive, all the while trusting that the person will be true to their word) that we do the most growing and the most preparing for the next phase, the one you’re waiting for. It’s in the in-between while you’re waiting that you learn patience, empathy, and how to stick it out when your goal arrives but it doesn’t taste as good as you expected (or it’s just as delicious, but it’s over far too quick!).
The waiting can feel like you’re sinking in quicksand. Getting no where, fast!
But it is in this place that you can really cultivate what you want and need, and if you’re patient, observant, and have healthy boundaries, the right fit for your goal will come along.
Those children didn’t sit and stare at a marshmallow for the full fifteen minutes. They played, they created, they sang songs and they enjoyed their fifteen minutes (all the while checking in on the marshmallow – keeping their eyes on the prize!).
What does this mean for you? It’s okay to wait. It’s okay to abhor the wait while also looking for enjoyment since you’re waiting anyway. It’s okay to keep your ears and eyes open for when the wait is over, and it’s okay to move on to another goal once you acheive this one – knowing there will be a new kind of wait on your horizon.
Jessica Wilkerson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #104464 and is registered with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Jessica has known her fair share of waiting! Waiting during the period of time between undergrad and grad school. Waiting to finish school. Waiting as a single mom for ten years, waiting for the right fit for a life partner (who she eventually married and had two more children with – children she waited-for for 16 years). Waiting to get through her internship, waiting to take the licensing exam, waiting to start her own group private practice, and the constant wait for a high caliber clinican to come on board and add to her team. This is a woman who knows how dang hard it is to wait, but who also has the hindsight experience to teach you how worth it that wait is, and to give you a few clinical skills to get through your own period of waiting.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Jessica, please call (530) 809-1702 or email firstname.lastname@example.org