No Longer and Not Yet - The Uncomfortable Space

sky sunset

I like to write about things once I have completed my thinking about them. I think it must be an academic trait, think your thought to their completion (or until the deadline strikes) and then write about them. But it’s harder to do that when you want to write about life. Life never seems complete and your thinking about it evolves with each new experience.

The last few months have been an example of this. My tendency in life has been to rush from one thing to the next, to be in a constant state of busyness, chasing some kind of achievement. Ticking things off lists makes me feel good. But last year, and the last few months in particular have involved a lot of waiting and exploration.

I will speak about exploration later, but right now I want to focus on the feeling of waiting. On the no-man’s land of no longer and not yet.

Having moved to London, we’ve been looking for and finding opportunities for future projects and work. But everything takes longer than expected and some things you simply must wait for. So what do you do with those spaces in between?


train

It’s not hard to notice how everyone reaches for their phones every time they need to wait five minutes for a friend to arrive. There is something really uncomfortable about waiting. It is charged with expectation and uncertainty, and there is even a sort of vulnerability in it. In public, you feel that you stand out on your own perhaps, in private, you feel that things are being decided for your without your input, and when waiting for something good, well time just seems to drag and it’s impossible to do anything else as your attention span is hugely diminished. But what if the waiting time is more like weeks? Do you spend it distracting yourself from the uncomfortable feeling? Do you fill your to-do list so you feel productive? My preference is for the latter, to keep busy and feeling productive, but on this occasion I couldn’t do this quite as much as I would like to and I've had to sit with the uncomfortable. This has given me the time to explore what it means to be in the ‘in between’. It has made me realise how often I rush to the next thing without true integration of what was before. This also highlighted to me the terrifying tendency to postpone living the way I want to live until later, until I feel that I have done enough to deserve it. I will push and strive, hoping it will get me to a place where I can finally relax, live a harmonious and peaceful life in line with my values and purpose. But first, I just need to work my ass off and punish myself with work. In this no-man’s space, where working non-stop isn’t an option, I’ve had to sit with these realisations. And as if by magic, this quote from Danielle LaPorte popped up:

You can’t constrict your way to freedom.

You can’t punish your way to joy.

You can’t fight your way to inner peace.

The journey has to feel the way you want the destination to feel.
— Danielle LaPorte


If fighting, striving, punishing, self-criticising is your default mode, then expect change to be uncomfortable. You may even feel triggered by the thought of slowing down, prioritising boundaries and self-care. Being in the slow lane or in the waiting room is super uncomfortable but if you zone out and avoid it, you’ll miss the gold in this moment and all it is here to teach you. Consider what your default is, is that how you want the destination to feel?