The Emotions of Waiting

I meant to write this yesterday but it was, perhaps ironically, the most emotional day that I’ve had for quite some time. One thing it did do is make me think even more about this whole idea. In my life, I’ve oscillated between feeling nothing, and feeling seemingly overwhelming amounts of emotion. I decided a while ago that I would rather feel than not feel, even if that means feeling “negative” emotions.

Each of us has things in life that we wait for.  We wait for that person to call to see if there will be another date, and we wait for relationships to develop into something more. We wait to hear if we got an interview, a second interview, a job offer, or admittance into a place that we are convinced we belong. We wait for new places to feel like home, and wait for inspiration when we write.

When we wait, we open ourselves up to a whole span of emotions. They come and go, and multiple emotions may work within us at the same time. I’ve noticed in my own life that times where I am waiting are times where my emotions seem to fluctuate the most, and make times of uncertainty seemingly more eventful than they are. In the past week, I think all of the following have been present for me, as the time I spend waiting extends, and I am still left with many unknowns.

Desire & Longing: Okay, so not quite emotions, but definitely things that I feel. Waiting involves wanting a specific outcome, or set of outcomes, to emerge at the end of a waiting period. Preferences turn into desires, which feed into more explicit emotions.

Excitement: There’s nothing quite as exciting as thinking about the possibilities and potential outcomes of something different, something new, something more. The buzz associated with anticipation can almost equate to an adrenaline rush, and can steal quite a bit of sleep.

Doubt, Fear & Anxiety: Somehow, when I got older, these emotions took over way more than excitement. Questions of “what if” would end more often with negative possible outcomes than with the positive ones that come from excitement. The biggest one is probably, “What if what I expect to happen does not happen?” or, “What if they don’t like me?” These, of course, spiral into other questions that intensify the feelings. These emotions can steal sleep, but the sleepless nights that originate from anxiety are not nearly as fun as those from excitement.

Pride: Ah, pride. My selfish side rears its head and says that I deserve to have what I want, that something in me is inherently good enough to deserve what I want.

Depression: This is probably my least favorite emotion in this entire process. It’s what comes when I either a) convince myself that my fears will most certainly come to pass in their worst form, or b) my fears are actualized. I convince myself that because I did not get what I wanted that there must be something inherently wrong with me, and often skip over the fact that it’s much more plausible to say that I just wasn’t a good fit for whatever it was that I thought I wanted.

Hope: This somewhat ties in to excitement, but it is a deeper feeling that I cherish more. Hope says that there will be something good at the end of the time period of waiting. It is what remains after setbacks that keeps me pursing my dreams, that counteracts all that is negative and threatens to pull me down. Often, this is where faith steps in and rescues me, setting my feet back on the path I trod and considered giving up.

Determination: What drives us past the other emotions and through the waiting process, when we feel like there is something still within our control that we can do to influence the outcome of what we are waiting for.

Potential emotions after waiting: 

Disappointment: Hope’s nemesis. What comes after a negative response at the end of a waiting period. Generally, this sweeps back into another waiting period, because it means that there’s another outcome waiting elsewhere.

Joy & Happiness: What theoretically happens with a desired result to the waiting period. However, somehow it just seems a little far away right now to really say that this is how things turn out.

Relief: What I more often experience at the end of a waiting period. It’s what sweeps all of the other emotions aside. Often experienced to a lesser degree than all the others, but still present, likely mingled with joy & happiness.

So, lots of emotions in this whole process. It’s difficult to think about all of them, and not to feel them. There are more, I am sure, but I think after a while, they sort of run into each other categorically, and emerge as either smiles or tears.  I guess I have time to ponder and feel as I continue waiting, trying to discover what is next for my life.