By Sauda Salim
1 day ago. 22 hrs ago. 5 min ago. One can never guess how much time we spend analyzing the timeframes between messages, applications, emails, our everyday communication…
There’s generally a lot of anxiety around time, and rightly so. First, because we don’t really have much of it. And second, because it is widely accepted that faster responses are an indicator of interest. However, waiting, specifically on responses and results, does not have to be the anxiety-inducing activity that it is. No, it shouldn’t be your Barzakh. Here are some few tips to equip yourself with every time you hit the send or submit button in a message to a potential partner, employer, hiring agency, that cold outreach on LinkedIn, the list goes on. I’d also like to share with you some anxiety-inspired mistakes that I’ve made that I think you should look out for the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.
Give Them Time
I know this heading sounds exactly like telling a sick person to “just heal“ or telling a depressed person to “just be happy, happy is a choice.” Of course, you are not to blame for growing impatient minutes after you send that message, or for overthinking possible scenarios for why a person would delay a response. Worrying while you wait is inevitable, and a sure indicator that there is value in what you are waiting for. But here is one thing you leave out when you are over-thinking: well-thought responses take time. We tend to forget that responding is active decision-making and decision-making is not easy. This makes a lot of sense if you are waiting for your college admission officer to get to you, or a job application, or a request for mentorship, etc. But it also applies to seemingly smaller decisions like how to respond to a ‘u up?’ text. The anxiety you feel when waiting for a response is possibly the same or even more for the respondent. Therefore, while waiting anxiety is a natural thing, please have mercy on yourself and avoid refreshing the page every 30 seconds in hope for a response.
‘Do good and go away’ is a common Swahili proverb that is used on people who have done their very best and have nothing else left to do. This is probably the case for you too. In a recent study carried out by the Africa Mental Health Training and Research Foundation, a team of researchers noted that individuals had relatively higher levels of anxiety for projects that they worked particularly harder for as compared to individuals who did not put in as much work. Often, when we do not put in much effort into projects, we get a prior feeling of acceptance that our stakes at winning are much lower, and this significantly reduces our anxiety levels. I can say this for a few interviews and exams that I did not prepare entirely for. However, the dilemma of a perfectionist, or at least an individual who gives ‘one hunnid’ is that they have to worry both during the execution and during the waiting period. Work around this by picking up a hobby that is totally unrelated to the object of your endurance. Perhaps read a book, challenge yourself with something that takes as long as the waiting period, learn to code? Just get away.
While this may sound similar to admitting hopelessness, it is in fact quite the opposite. Admitting finality is making room for hopefulness, for hope is only introduced when we play our part and end it. As a child, I would admit that I made a mistake during the examinations and hope that the graders would not see it. As an adult, I do my best in my projects and hope that my supervisors see it. Learn that there isn’t much more to change once you hit the send button, and we still do not have the technology to poke people into responding at the times that we want them to- unless, of course you send triple emails- which might work for a friend but not a potential business partner.
Occupying ourselves less with worrying about things we cannot control is essential to a happy life. While it is not easy, following these guidelines could make it a tad bit manageable.
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