Earlier this year I was standing in line at my favorite drugstore when I had a pretty major life epiphany. It all started from a 20% off coupon that I had saved in my email. I tried to find it before it was my turn to be checked out, but as the line kept moving, my phone shut off, then the wifi wouldn’t connect, and if I just had one more person in front of me, I might have had time to find it.
I get anxious in situations like this. Slowing down the line, holding people up, I really hate inconveniencing people. After a childhood where my presence and needs seemed to inconvenience my parents so much, I’ve learned over the years how to diminish myself and move out of people’s way. Even though I really wanted my discount, and the crowd had thinned out so there was only one person in line behind me, I let the store associate scan my items so that I could pay and let her serve the other customers.
Then I stopped her.
“Wait. Would you mind waiting a second? I have a coupon and I really want to use it.”
I turned to the lady behind me and apologized. “I’m so sorry, I’ll just be a second.”
The associate told me to take my time. The lady waiting behind me said that she’d want to get her discount, too. Besides, she wasn’t in a rush.
Wait For Me
It was then that I realized that the pressure I was putting on myself to get out of people’s way was all on me. It wasn’t my fault the store was crowded! And besides, I had waited patiently in line at stores behind folks many times. I, too, am worthy of the consideration of a little time and a little grace. I am here, and I take up space. We all do.
I hadn’t thought much about this incident until today when I nearly slipped into my old ways again. I had just flown from San Francisco to Chicago, and didn’t go to the restroom once. By the time we landed, I was really ready to go. I went to the bathroom and there was a bit of a line. I thought about my colleagues who had landed earlier and were waiting for me to head over to the hotel together. My old instincts kicked in again and I thought that maybe I’d just wait until we got to the hotel because I didn’t want to hold folks up.
Fortunately, my self-worth fairy came in and reminded me of the breakthrough I’d had months ago. It assured me that taking a few minutes to go to the restroom after a long flight wasn’t an act of ego or inconsideration, but one of self care and necessity. And of course, my coworkers didn’t care about the few extra minutes at all.
Sometimes my needs might inconvenience other folks. People might have to wait for me, or go out of their way. It’s just the way the world works, and it’s okay. We all do it for each other. It doesn’t make any sense for me to be so patient with other people and so less forgiving to myself. It’s just not fair to me.
So, yeah, you might have to wait for me. But don’t worry, because I’m sure I’ll wait for you, too, one day. We’re worth it.