Patience is Not a Virtue

I don’t know where this saying originated from, but it stinks. How is having patience virtuous? According to dictionary.com, virtue is a noun that means: moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.

How does having patience relate to moral excellence? Who sets this standard and who says that having patience makes you righteous? I think patience is overrated. Patience is not virtuous nor is it righteous. Patience is a pain the butt. No one ever says “wow, your lack of patience is admirable!” and I doubt anyone ever will…

I’ve always been under the impression that not having patience is a bad thing. Translation: my lack of patience equals a severe character flaw? I’ve always known that my lack of patience is not a good thing but until recently I have never questioned it. I’ve always been told to “be patient” and “wait for it” but what I attribute my success in life to is not waiting and patience.

Good things come to those who wait. Isn’t that that saying? It doesn’t make sense, does it? Good things have never come to those who wait. “Time heals all wounds”. No, it doesn’t. Your wounds heal because you grow stronger not because you “waited for the storm to pass”. I’m not saying I dislike patience by any means or that these phrases should be abolished anytime soon. I just think we should question the requirement that “patience” be a virtue.

I’ve never been patient. In fact, I’ve always struggled when I have to wait for things. Usually when I want something, I do something to get it. I don’t patiently wait for it to happen. If anything, I am impulsive when I want something…but how is that a negative? I believe my lack of patience has gotten me where I am today. If I had been patient with manfriend, some other woman would probably be enjoying how incredible he is right now and if I had been patient with my job, I’d still be working 40 hours/week and wishing I could teach somehow. There a million other things I could add but I think those are two of the most important- right now.

My patience has really been tested lately and it has been so difficult for me to wait but this may be one time in my life where I actually have to wait. Maybe I’ll learn to be more patient and to fully understand “slow and steady wins the race”? Doubt it. I always thought the hare should have beat the tortoise because he seemed more worthy of it and because the hare desperately wanted to win. Why did we decide the tortoise deserved to win? Because he was patient and that made him more deserving? Boo on patience.

One area where I do believe patience is important though, is getting older. I don’t want to rush through my life. Sure, I think patience is over-rated, but that’s only when you really want something and that something is attainable if you don’t sit back and wait. I don’t want to rush to 50 or 60 because I like where I am now. I think aging is one area where the tortoise really deserves to win. I am sure when I do hit 50 or 60 that I will think my life showed more semblance to the hare, but for now- I’m patiently enjoying my “Journey to Thirty” in all the glorious tortoise fashion I can muster.

8 thoughts on “Patience is Not a Virtue

  1. Hmmm….I wonder if you are shortchanging the definition of patience. I don’t think patience means just waiting, or sitting back and waiting for life to happen to you. I think it means no going insane when things don’t go as quickly as you’d hoped, and maintaining composure when faced with challenges.

    Dictionary.com says:
    1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
    2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
    3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

    I like that this definition includes the word “perseverance” – clearly indicative of moving forward.

    I think I may be a lot like you, where if I want something, I will go out and pursue it. Why wait? But if I try, and there are delays, it helps to utilize any scrap of patience/restraint I can muster, so I don’t make life miserable for others who have no control over the situation either.

    Also, I have to argue on the side of the tortoise. 🙂 The hare lost because he was arrogant – overly confident in his abiliies. There’s something to be said for a humble view of oneself, and always putting in your full effort rather than “resting on your laurels,” so to speak. Frankly, tortoise was respectable, working to the full of his ability, while the hare was a slacker. Judge each by their differing ability.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking entry – I enjoyed this one. 🙂

  2. You know I shortchanged patience. Good argument for the tortoise. I think you are better than me because I am certain I make those around me miserable with my impatience!

    The only reason I ever truly loved the tortoise is because they are so much cuter than hares!

    Part 2 of that definition is why I dislike patience- I cannot suppress restlessness…just ask Ty 🙂 One of the interesting things is that I have a lot of patience with students (I’d have to) and seeing them grasp concepts and personalize what they are learning, even if it takes a while, is worth all of the impatience in the world.

  3. I totally know what you mean. It is very difficult for me to just be quiet and not pester about a subject if I’m wanting to settle it now. Being married to someone who is suuuuper patient is a good learning tool. 🙂

  4. I am excessively patient when I am forced to teach my co-workers new processes, computer programs, etc. Here is my problem: On the inside it is KILLING me to be patient and explain things over and over if it’s something I just get. I don’t like that about myself at all, but at least no one can tell!

    In my personal life, I think I’m pretty patient. You might want to confirm that with Rob though…

    Honestly, I don’t think whether we do or don’t possess patience matters. As long as what we do have works well with the life we choose to live, everything is perfect!

  5. Patience is what you need when things are not inside your circle of influence.

    I used to be an extremely patient man. This helped me understand things better. But on the other hand, being extremely patient held me back in work, study, life, friends and family. So I had to make a change.

    I found your article very inspiring. But don’t forget that everything has cons and pros.

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