I have always been very patient with people. Things tend to be a different story. If I’m waiting for something to arrive in the mail, for instance, or waiting for payday so I can get something I’ve had my eye on, or for a birthday or last day of school before a break…those things I can certainly get impatient about. But people? I have always had a soft spot for people and have always had a high threshold for giving the benefit of the doubt.
If you ask me, we all deserve a second chance. We are all fighting different battles that no one knows about, yet as humans we still tend to judge someone based on one exchange we have with them, or we get impatient or irritated and snap at them or write them off. As soon as we do that, we’ve lost the opportunity to learn something about that person or help them through something that they may greatly need support for.
I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that being a teacher is a great way to use my people patience. I am an understanding and forgiving person, and some would probably say that I give too many chances. But when I look at some of my students who come from homes filled with violence, neglect, substance abuse, poverty, or dysfunction, it’s hard for me to be a stickler about a particular due date or a quiz retake. We are all worth noticing, we are all worth fighting for, and we are all worthy. To be impatient with people is to say we aren’t willing to consider what they might be going through. We aren’t willing to understand where they are coming from, put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, or change our opinion of someone due to a new perspective. We aren’t willing to step outside of ourselves and really think hard about someone else. I think that people, for the most part, are good. Developmental psychology studies tell us that we need people to trust and count on, and that we need a place to belong in order to feel secure. We depend on these things in order to live a fulfilled and content life. So before we write someone off, or lose our patience with them, maybe we can remember that we’re all in this together, and it takes all of us to make it through.
As the holiday season is most certainly upon us, I think people need a little extra TLC. For some people, this time of year is difficult due to loved ones who have passed away or can’t be here. For others, there is the stress of having family in town, traveling out of town, packing, shopping, preparing…and for those who have families who just don’t do family stuff very well, the holidays can be painful.
We need more kindness in the world, and not just at the holidays. We need people to understand each other better. We need more people patience.