Patience Or Understanding?

Patience. This word so frequently pops up in conversations with folks after sharing my role and experiences at CARD. I often hear, “Oh, you must be so patient.” Initially, I would graciously smile and falsely accept ownership of this redeeming quality. After hearing this statement so many times from friends, families and strangers, I sat down to reflect upon the profound assumption and honorable quality I so often undeservingly embrace. Me? A patient person?

The answer to posed question could not have been more clearly disproved one day at my favorite Starbucks conveniently located by the CARD Fresno office. On the way to an afternoon session, I stopped by for a quick pick-me-up drink. In typical fashion, I briskly rushed in only to let out a sigh of frustration as I observed a lengthy line of coffee lovers ahead of me. I reluctantly assumed my spot at the end of the line.

The woman ordering at the cash register was blankly staring at the overhead menu. She couldn’t possibly seem more indecisive and appeared to be playing a game of 21 questions. The frustration level building amongst those in line was stronger than the pungent aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I was humbled when I caught myself tapping my foot and crossing my arms. I am, in fact, NOT a patient person.

So I wondered, why is it that people so often assume patience is a quality one must possess in this field of work? It can certainly have its trying moments. Regardless, it is my passion and provides me with the utmost sense of fulfillment. Certainly, patience cannot be the key otherwise I would be locked outside.

After significant time spent in self-reflection and utilization of emotional copying techniques, I regained my calm demeanor and experienced an eye opening revelation. As the woman mispronounced “venti,” I understood it was her first time ordering. I understood the potentially overwhelming amount of options on the menu. Half-caf, skinny, no foam, extra-whip, light mocha? And the sizes… “tall,” “grande,” “venti,” and “trenta.” She probably just knew she was thirsty and tired.

So I don’t have patience. Bless you if you do. I do, however, have understanding. I understand my role with my clients and with CARD. I see my purpose and understand the behavior intervention plans and programs I am implementing. I understand the functions of my clients’ behaviors, be it appropriate or problematic. I openly accept the fact that patience is not a quality I posses with confidence knowing that I am an understanding person. I believe the beauty of my shortcoming lies in the following statement: Patience can so easily run out. Understanding, on the other hand, never will.