Back in March, I posted a piece on how certain structures of our society encourage us to live in a state of constant discontent. I was thinking about how, at whatever stage we were in—single, dating, engaged, married, with one child—we were always prodded about “the next thing” that we should be aiming for.
It was recently brought to my attention that the same state of constant discontent is also encouraged by an attitude that I have come to think of as the “Just Wait” phenomena. It goes a little something like this.
If you are in high school and you’re managing your school work well, you will be told to just wait until you are in university, because it will be so much more difficult because of a certain list of reasons. But when you are in university and even if you’re managing your college life well, you will be told to just wait until you enter the workforce, because it will be so much more difficult because of a certain list of reasons, some of which might start sounding familiar.
Similarly, if you are dating and everything is going well, you will be told to just wait until you’re married because all the magic will disappear. If, during the first couple of years you’re married, things are going really well, you will be told to just wait until the honeymoon phase is over. If your honeymoon phase is over and things are going really well, you will be told to just wait until you have kids. If you had kids and things are going really well, you will be told to just wait until the kids have grown into teenagers.
And so on, so forth.
This is not to say that the concerns are not valid. Of course college is harder than high school and having children requires a lot more effort than being a young couple. But our capacity to deal with university has been honed in high school; were we to stay in high school, we’d get bored. Similarly, our capacity to have children has been honed within the marriage.
What is disconcerting, then, are not the warnings in themselves, but rather that they are shared in a disempowering way instead of being focused on capacity building. What if, instead of saying “just wait”, we turned it into “and how”? For example, to a claim that high school is a breeze, instead of “just wait until university!”, what if we said “That’s wonderful! And how are you going to translate those learnings into your college life?” How much quicker would the world advance if we built a world of constant effort backed up by faith in the ability to build a better future with the loving support and wise advice of those who went before us!
Picture courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.