How to Get Through a “Waiting Period” in Life
By: Alyssa Burns
Whether you are just graduating college, or are in between careers, at some point (or multiple points) in life, you’ll find yourself stuck in a “waiting period.” You’ve likely put in all the work you feel possible in order to take that next big step in an area of your life: work, moving, relationships, etc. Yet, despite all of your efforts, that one thing you’re waiting to come into fruition seems to be taking its sweet ol’ time. This delay leaves you feeling stuck, possibly anxious, and eventually may lead into a spiral of “will I ever get this thing I really want and know I’ve worked so hard to earn?”
It’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of self-doubt and “backup plans” while in one of these vexing waiting periods; hence why I’ve decided to write this blog. I’m actually currently in a waiting period of my own. In a career such as acting or modeling, as artists it can feel as if we ALWAYS are in some sort of interim. Instead of putting our emotions through a rollercoaster more than necessary, I’ve compiled my top ways to get through these periods in life with hope, confidence, and trusting that everything is working out in your favor.
Reflect on How Far You’ve Come
As motivated individuals, it is common to always be striving for more. If we didn’t, we’d just stay exactly where we are, which isn’t the point of life! It can be way too easy to forget how far we’ve come, and instead focus on how what we’re working towards is still, well… at work.
Think back to yourself a year ago. What did your life look like? How’d you dress, where did you work, how was your self-confidence? Even if you feel that not a lot has changed, I’m sure you can find at least one area of your life in which you’ve grown and improved.
Instead of constantly sitting in a state of not feeling like you’re moving forward, reflect on how far you’ve already come. Even if it’s a seemingly small step towards bigger things, such as doing your first professional photoshoot or buying new furniture for your apartment, you DID THAT! You added something of value to your life. Celebrate that.
The more you take time to acknowledge the accomplishments you’ve made in the past year, the more you’ll see that you have that many more to look forward to. So many amazing strides can be made in a year alone. It is truly up to you how you decide to use your time.
Feeling your feelings is a healthy way to process different stages in life, but allowing those feelings to hold you in a stagnant place is not. You have the choice to believe in more, to believe in yourself and that everything is falling into place in a timeline meant for you. Until that timeline is revealed to you, choose to focus on what you can control and do the things that have inspired you to get you this far already. Your future self a year from now is going to be SO proud of you for keeping your eyes forward, only looking back to see the growth that has gotten you miles ahead of where you once were.
Take a Step Back
Take a minute to just BE. When you truly care about something, getting wrapped up in doing every task and project possible at all times almost seems necessary to make it happen. While taking inspired action when inspiration strikes is wonderful, forcing yourself to be overly productive can end up being counterproductive. Getting so wrapped up in work and trying to force things to happen can quickly lead to burnout. The time spent tirelessly grinding away at being “productive” takes away valuable time that could be spent with those you love, or simply allowing your mind to relax and allow real artistry in.
Photographer: Alex Callejo
So far we’ve learned that not everything is in our control, but what we can control is how we react and what we choose to do in our day to day life.
Try to find moments in your day, each day, to take a step back from your goals. I’m not saying ignore your to-do list and binge watch Gossip Girl for hours each night; but take an hour a day to do something completely unrelated to the thing you’re “waiting” on – especially if there are elements that are out of your control. For example, if you’re waiting on a callback for a show or gig, try cooking a meal you’ve never tried before. If you’re waiting on a text back from that person in your mind, go to a workout class. Do something that takes you out of that feeling of lack and puts you in a state of creativity, calm, and control.
Once you truly let go, focus on what you CAN control, and stop worrying about the how or the when, the faster all you’ve been wanting enters your life. Why? Because you finally created SPACE for it! Imagine working on a perfect gift for someone you love and they just keep asking over and over when it will be complete. The best things in life take time, so don’t hover. Trust your gifts are being perfectly crafted, and when it’s just right, you’ll receive it. It’s always worth the wait.
Talk to Someone Who Understands Your Strengths
Whether it be a family member who has known you all your life or a therapist you trust, sometimes it helps to talk out your thoughts and feelings aloud with another person. Think about who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Those who care about you will be more than happy to just listen and allow you to express all that’s been weighing on your mind. Chances are, they’ll know just the right thing to say to bring you back up.
Sometimes, the one who understands you the most is you. When you’re feeling your best, you know your worth and motivate yourself internally. Journaling during these waiting periods is a great way to process how it feels, and it also leaves a way for you to one day look back and read how you felt during this time knowing you made it through.
You can also try recording a voice memo speaking out all of your fears and getting all of the pent-up apprehension out of your system. You can decide to listen back to it, or delete it;the choice is yours. It’s healthy to just spend time with yourself every once in a while and realign with the version of you who is already achieving the things you’re working towards. The best part? You’ll know at the end of the day, you are the one who got yourself through once; that’s proof you can do it again.
Lastly, if you’re a person of faith, whatever that faith may be to you, praying can be huge in helping you feel at peace in uncertainty. Knowing there is something outside of you, guiding you where you’re meant to be, takes away the immense stress that can come from feeling like it is all up to you and you alone. A quick prayer before bed or writing out a letter explaining what you’re feeling and asking for guidance and/or clarity can bring a sense of relief. Whatever your practices are, try implementing them in ways specific to these feelings and concerns, and watch them begin to feel lighter and lighter.
Disassociate From Triggers
Anything that triggers feelings or beliefs that don’t support your growth or situation should be avoided as often as possible. Disassociating from people or circumstances that don’t serve you is a big step in moving in the direction of your goals. For example, if you follow certain accounts on Instagram that display what it is you feel like you’ve yet to achieve (i.e. a body type, career accomplishment, financial status) and you find it triggering you rather than inspiring you, it’s time to unfollow–or at least mute those accounts until you get back to a place of confidence.
As difficult as it may be, it may also be necessary to disassociate from certain people in your life as well. It may not be intentional, but sometimes talking to certain friends or colleagues about what you’re working towards reminds you of the place you’re IN rather than the place you’re working to be. They may try and relate to you with statements like, “I’m broke too!” or “Yeah it’s going to take forever.” Statements like these are contradictory to what you need to hear, especially in a waiting period. Instead of ghosting, communicate that you need some time on your own to sort things out, and that you’ll be more attentive when you’re in a better space mentally and emotionally. If they really care about you, they won’t let you taking some space negatively affect your relationship, but rather know it’s only to benefit you both in the long run!
Game Plan for Your Future
Now that you’ve taken the time to reflect, talk it out, and disassociate from all that doesn’t serve you, it’s time to game plan!
This is your opportunity to visualize all that you see yourself executing and succeeding in the next 3-6 months, or longer. What does this version of you look like? Are you booking modeling gigs back to back and networking like a pro? Or maybe you’re hustling with multiple side gigs while collaborating with like-minded creatives. Whatever it may be, write it down, and make it HAPPEN.
So far we’ve learned that not everything is in our control, but what we can control is how we react and what we choose to do in our day to day life. Instead of sleeping until noon and eating foods that don’t help your body and mind thrive, make the decision to wake up earlier and seize any opportunity to improve. Take online classes to learn a new skill, go to the gym with a friend who motivates you, do a photoshoot at home that makes you feel like an absolute QUEEN. Not all of these will work for everyone, so choose a few ideas that excite you and literally schedule them into your calendar. Not only will you feel more productive, but you’ll soon see you have SO many ways to stay inspired and attract opportunities that reflect these habits effortlessly into your life.
What does your ideal schedule look like once you have the job or career you’re working towards? Now, make your present schedule as similar as possible. Find balance, do activities that excite you, and find joy in the process of becoming all you’ve wanted to be. Pretty soon, waiting periods won’t seem so dreadful after all.
Truth is, there is always work happening behind the scenes that we can’t physically see or hear–but it’s happening. A waiting period at any point in life can be extremely tough. It can feel like trying to navigate a forest full of dense fog with no sense of direction: scary, isolating, and never ending. However, I’m here to remind you that you have all you need within you to take this time and own it. It is up to you how you spend these hours and find ways to make them healing and productive, and influence you to keep moving forward.
Just like all of life, this process is a journey. Some days may feel amazing. Others, you may feel like doing absolutely nothing. Meet yourself where you are, be gracious with your heart, and know that 100% doesn’t always look the same day to day. You reading this blog may be the first step in taking back your power in your waiting. It definitely helped remind me of how much I can be doing when it feels like there’s nothing left to do. Again, one day–one minute–at a time. You’re way further ahead than you give yourself credit for, trust me. You’re one day closer to seeing why all that you’ve been working towards is worth the wait.