Why Do We Wait?

On any given day, I have a handful of tasks to complete. There are tasks with strict deadlines, and tasks with loose deadlines (meant to motivate me to not wait until the last minute). Shockingly, I always fly past the loose deadlines, stressing myself out by the strict deadlines I was originally trying to avoid.

Waiting. It’s something that all of us do, but what is the real effect of waiting on our psyches and how do we actively combat it?

In a society where we wait on lines for pretty much anything hyped up by ads, celebs and social media, it’s hard to distinguish whether you really need to get the new iPhone, or whether you’ve been put under the spell of a multimillion dollar ad campaign. The real problem with waiting is, we jump to buy new products, while we wait to save for retirement or to share our true feelings for that special person. We are told to wait for the things that are better for us in the long run.

In an article from Psychology Today, five of the most common reasons for procrastination were chocked up to: absence of structure, unpleasant tasks, timing, anxiety, and self confidence. Digging a little bit deeper, the common link I personally found amongst all of these reasons, is the way in which we’re socialized vis-à-vis the media.

I’m a huge fan of media studies and recognize just how important the media is in shaping public opinion of people, places and events. It’s the reason why Donald Trump was able to “hoodwink” us and use free press time to promote his divisive messaging. It’s the reason why we still have racial biases and attitudes towards people of color. And it’s the reason why fake news is such a horrible and concerning epidemic.

“Is the media really a reason for our lack of follow through though? Is it really such a force in our society that it could cause all of the problems for our society at large? We must be at some fault… I find it hard to believe that all of our problems can be blamed on the media.”

Of course the media isn’t responsible for all of our problems, but it is the reason for many. Advertising campaigns do a wonderful job of making us feel like we need something, even when we don’t. They make us feel like not having the latest Yeezy’s will result in our subsequent deaths. They make us think that weight-loss is something that happens overnight by way of “fit teas,” and that finding solutions for climate change is something we should worry about when our ozone layer is completely depleted. The media has created a society that waits to deal with things that are important, and it’s our job to fix it.

When we think about a task that we have to complete, why don’t we feel as though we’re equipped to handle the task, even if it’s unpleasant? We are fed mumbo jumbo suggesting that we should sit through painful hour long beauty treatments, instead of buckling down and writing our short response for class. We instead, spend an hour on our phones sifting through Instagram meme accounts, while our lawns begin to look a little bit like the grasslands with each passing day. We live in a society where instant gratification and minimal work, trump patience.

Instead of getting anxiety from an impending assignment or deadline, we should plan to do a little of it each day, so that when the deadline is up, we can relax and feel confident. Everyone knows that social media is a dark hole, and when you see photoshopped pictures that make you feel less about yourself, it has an effect on the way in which you view yourself and how you conduct your day-to-day life. It’s important to remind yourself that social media is not real, and that “Rome was not built in a day,” as my mother likes to tell me, so who cares if you didn’t drop 15 pounds overnight.

I know I’m making it sound like the media and social media are the worst inventions to ever exist for humanity, but let’s not forget that the media is truly a wonderful invention; the convenience of communication technologies has made life SO much easier and the world that much smaller. However, it’s important to do your research on the headlines presented to you (because Fake News is a real problem), recognize that people’s lives aren’t as perfect as their Instagram wants you to think, and to ask yourself whether you really need to spend your last $300 on a pair of shoes, when you need a new monthly rail pass to get to work. Don’t be the foolish consumer that advertisers think you are, and don’t be a victim to the insecurity caused by social media. Wait to do certain things in favor of other, more productive things.

You won’t be upset that you put $500 in your savings account, or have FOMO because you missed Coachella this year to study for your LSATs, when you reap the rewards later on. Some things are worth the wait, while others, are not really worth your time at all. After all, a new edition of the iPhone will come out in a year, and that Supreme t-shirt you slaved for, will be replaced by another one in a couple of weeks. Remember: Don’t wait to invest yourself, take social media with a grain of salt, and stay woke.

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