You can have all the right pieces, do everything correctly, and be as prepared as you’ll ever be, and things still don’t seem to be happening. Unfortunately, you just have to be patient.
People love to attribute success to hard work, and that’s a huge part of it. Most things don’t happen by accident and are the product of effort. But so much relies on good timing, whether that’s being in the right place at any given moment, being uniquely positioned for an opportunity, or just connecting with another person at the exact right time for them, in their lives, too.
As someone who always wants to have a plan and know exactly what’s happening, this timing thing can be a hard one to come to terms with. For me, punctuality is important, even when it’s not especially serious. I’m the guy who throws a party that starts at 8:00 but starts peeking out the window at 7:55 to see where people are. I have to remind myself that people don’t come to parties on time and that in many social situations, I should actually show up a bit later if I don’t want to come across as overeager, or even rude. I am someone who, usually for no reason, is walking quickly enough that people assume I know where I’m going. This often presents as confidence or familiarity, to the degree that for a while, I couldn’t shop at an Urban Outfitters without being asked where the dressing rooms are (they’re upstairs). All this to say, time matters to me even when it doesn’t actually matter to anyone else involved.
Relationships are about timing, too. How many of us have been “ready for a relationship” and put ourselves out there, done our best to be available, met someone, thought it was going well, and then suddenly… it’s not. “It’s not you it’s me,” they say — you’re great but it’s just not clicking — and there’s nothing we can do about it. Every connection, whether it’s romantic, business or friendship, is all about us meeting at particular moments in our lives when we’re ready, open, and have had enough of the various experiences we needed to have previously, in order to bring us to this one, at this point in time, together, and have it stick.
It’s hard to have patience, especially when you aren’t actually sure what you’re waiting for. Have you ever felt ready for the next thing, but not sure what that thing is? Have you felt homesick for a place you haven’t been yet? Maybe a deep sense of longing for a version of yourself that’s never actually existed but feels extremely possible sometime? Have you felt a deep yearning for a cool, collected, mature future self that was so palpable that it actually hurt your chest and you wanted to crawl out of your body so your soul (or whatever) could make a run for it? Just me?
I want to tell you that eventually your dreams come true and you arrive at all the things you were waiting for, but you might not! Your destination changes because it was never a place, and your dream comes true but it’s a different dream now. Life informs who you are and what you want, and so the Past You that dreamed a Future You couldn’t get the details right because they hadn’t materialized yet. You couldn’t goal set or plan or work toward the exact version of what you thought you wanted because you didn’t know that you’d know what you do know now. But you have to believe that eventually life will sort all of it out, and it might not be what you imagined, but it’ll be right at the time.
Adam J. Kurtz is the author of the beautiful book You Are Here (For Now): A Guide to Finding Your Way, which comes out today. He’s a designer, artist and speaker whose illustrative work is rooted in honesty, humor and a little darkness. He also creates art, stationery and gifts. Thank you, Adam!
(Photo by Seth Mourra/Stocksy. This excerpt of You Are Here (For Now) is published with permission from TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright 2021 by Adam J. Kurtz.)