Waiting for People, Happiness, and Healing

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Photograph by Impana Jain

Lately, I’ve been waiting a lot. Mostly at metro stations and sometimes in my head …  In all the scenarios I make up, I’m waiting for the other person to leave, to yell, to fight. I continue waiting…

Every time I wait for someone, I make it a test of my patience, the patience I wear with pride. Being patient is like second nature to me, I tell people. And sometimes I realize that I overestimate this patience of mine. As time passes, doom scrolling gets boring, looking around gets too familiar, reading my book gets tiring, and the thoughts in my mind start to creep up, like water seeping through the cracks of an old wall, reminding me that I am wrong. I start breathing faster, sighing heavier, and pacing around. Where the fuck are they?

Waiting lets me justify my eavesdropping. There’s not a lot to do when I have exhausted all the obvious options, so I tune into conversations, much like a playlist. I choose which conversation near me is interesting, like a song that fits my mood, and I listen. My moral compass takes a back seat and listens with me. Sometimes I get popcorn and tea and other times I feel guilt(ea) (I think I am very funny :’)). Mostly, it’s the latter. My conscience tells me I should mind my own damn business, so I try to stop, and start thinking about all the million different reasons why they are taking so long. Maybe there’s a lot of traffic, maybe they got caught up in something, maybe they were in an accident. Anxiety always makes a guest appearance here.

Sometimes waiting turns out to be nice. I look around, and see a dog enjoying its leisure, rolling around on the ground. I see a little kid bring a bottle of water from his father’s cobbling shop and water a tiny little plant that manages to survive growing from under a pole. I see couples enjoying the little privacy society offers in its implicit absence, in nooks and corners or at bus stands, spending as much time as their obligatory duties offer, smiling and playing around like couples in a film. Sometimes cute and sometimes cringe? It’s not all that bad, I think. As long as I have this shade I don’t mind waiting here. Few more minutes.

The worst kind of waiting for me is waiting for something to happen, Something that is not tangible. Like waiting to feel better, waiting for therapy to start manifesting in more explicit ways, waiting for the healing to start, and the like. When I think of these, I find waiting for someone much more bearable. There’s at least a 99% chance they are going to come (Am I being pessimistic or anxious?). But in the former, there’s no guarantee of it. For all I know, I might just end up feeling worse. Who’s to say healing actually happens? This is what scares me. This wait for good and better things that I have been told is out there, waiting for me. Who is waiting for whom? Do I have to make the first move? I feel like I am on a first date, sitting in awkward silence after we have exhausted the how are you, what are your hobbies, what are your favourite shows, and other non-virtual AMAs. At least here, I see a possibility of good sex, if not nothing.

Waiting for something like that makes the crawl towards it less bearable or at the very least less fun. When I wait to feel happier, I expect myself to feel happier. I put this pressure on myself to stop feeling this crappy and hopeless. Eventually, I just sit, like a toddler mad at someone, with my arms folded and wait for this life-changing happiness to arrive. I wait, I doom scroll, I look around and I read my book. And then, having exhausted all the obvious options, I eavesdrop on my intrusive thoughts, or rather, they eavesdrop on my rational ones. They intervene, interrupt, overstep and create havoc. They sit around in a circle, with suits on and argue about how this person did not wave at me today and why they probably hate me. I choose to tune into this conversation as I wonder why therapy is not therapying and why healing is not, well, healing. I doubt I made any sense here. Excuse me, while I tune into today’s episode of how stupid I am. 

There are days when rational thoughts win over intrusive ones. On these days, the roundtable discussions take a break and I look around, look at the dog, the kid, and the couples, while I look out for the one I am waiting for. Here they come, I smile to myself, get up and leave. Just like my thoughts, both rational and  intrusive ones, do, for now. Waiting was not that bad, I think, at least I got something to write about.


Impana Jain

Impana is a 19 year old student of Psychology and Literature from Bengaluru. She likes writing about the little things in her life. Anything from a particular emotion she feels to a mundane activity that serves as her muse. She’s still a rookie in this aesthetically chaotic world of writing. She’s trying to learn more about it, one piece at a time. The courage to put her awkward, overthinking, anxious and vulnerable self out there is what makes her a blahcksheep. If her writing made you smile, she’ll consider her work having served its purpose.


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