I was born two days later than I was supposed to be, but that was the first and only time I was ever late. I showed up so fast that the doctor barely made it back in the room in time to deliver me, and for better or for worse, I’ve moved at about that same pace ever since.
You know how sometimes you’re running in a dream, and your feet can’t connect to the ground, and all of a sudden it’s like your legs are windmilling under you but you’re not actually going anywhere? I’ve felt like that pretty much since my first conscious thought. It’s taken me all 25 of my existing years to understand why I have so many dreams like that — what the root of my everything is, and I mean my everything: my problems, my successes, and all that has come in between.
I am impatient as hell — and that impatience guides me more ruthlessly than anything ever will.
There isn’t a single part of my life it doesn’t bleed into, a single era of me that it hasn't defined. I taught myself to run my first mile in fourth grade because I wanted to get to my best friend’s house faster for playdates. I started writing fan fiction when I was 12 because I got sick of waiting for a full seven days in between new episodes of Charmed. I transferred colleges midway through my degree but still managed to graduate early, determined to get to whatever came next. Every day I power walk to work and get there 45 minutes before my shift starts, not because I have too much to do, but because my brain cannot psychologically cope with being idle if I'm already awake (which — shocker — I always am). I drafted the first version of this piece you're reading right now at 1 a.m. on a weeknight because I couldn't sleep at the thought of waiting until morning to do it. I constantly feel like that goonish villain in the cartoon movie version of Tarzan, cutting through time like he cut through the forest with his machete, ready to just get to the next part already and leave the present behind.
People have told me in my moments of weakness — and like anyone my age, there are plenty — that I need to slow down. I've heard it all more times than I can count, in varying degrees: Life is long. Patience is a virtue. Stop and smell the roses. And while I know that there is a truth that rings in those words that is older and wiser than I am, I still can't quite bring myself to listen.
The truth is this: Yes, my impatience has caused a lot of sleepless nights and unnecessary angst and more temporary burnouts than I can count. But I wouldn’t change it about myself even if I could. My impatience has given me more than I could ever give it back.
I love to run like I love to breathe. Would I have known that, if I hadn’t wanted to be with my best friend then, right then?
Writing stories is my greatest passion in life. But would I have ever found that outlet, if I hadn't been so irritated at TNT for making me wait to learn about Chris Halliwell's fate that I had to take matters into my own prepubescent hands?
I moved to Nashville after college to try my luck at songwriting. Would I have been so brave if I hadn’t had those extra six months to toy with after graduating early? Would I have felt the sweetness of that chance, or learned from the sting of that failure, without the buffer I had given myself?
Living in New York is the first city of many that I’ve ever felt like I truly belonged. Would I have known that if I hadn’t been attracted to this kind of work — where everything moves so fast that content that is viral one day is irrelevant the next, where everything moves so fast that is becomes one giant, blissful blur?
I do not mean to glorify chronic impatience, because God knows it comes with strings attached. It makes me sloppy. Maybe you will find a typo or two in this article; when I reread something I’ve written from the place in my heart that I’m writing from right now, I sometimes do. It also makes me feel at odds with myself; it is in my nature to be polite and set other people at ease, but I often feel like I only manage it in halves, since I am often irrationally uneasy myself. Most of all, it makes me forget to take stock of things when I should — like how lucky I am. Like how rare it is to be in a job that I love, to be part of a family as loving and ridiculously supportive as mine, in a body that does most things I have asked it to do without complaint.
But as I get older, I get better at those parts — the precision, the practice, the gratitude. The thing that doesn’t change is the constant electric hum just under my skin, the way my heart often beats in my throat: Is it time yet? Is it time? Is it time?
I don’t always know exactly what it is I am waiting to happen — do any of us, really? — but I am never my best self quite more than when I am running toward something. My impatience has given me a brutal kind of focus, an unflinching kind of clarity. The things I’ve wanted to accomplish in this life have changed many times, but I’ve never not known what they are. I’ve never not been reaching a little too far, running a little too fast, squinting at something a bit too far from my horizon. My impatience is my double-edged sword, my burden and my gift: it has made me reckless, but it has also made me brave.
Maybe I'll mellow out eventually. Maybe I'll grow into it. Time will tell, but in some ways, history already has — I feel the same impatience and ambition in my parents' stories and successes, and it is in those moments that I hear about them my impatience feels like less of a weakness and more of a badge of honor, like something that started in my blood. Even in the times when I am not sure where I am, I am proud of where I have come from and where I am going; my impatience is like my personal North Star, not so much guiding the way as shoving me to it whether I like it or not.
As I finish up my 25th year of being alive, a lot of my friends have mentioned their dread at getting older — at the things they have felt have passed them by, at the way time has gone by too fast. But that hasn't been my 25. For me, 25 has been long and unbearable and sweet, like those anxious few minutes you spend waiting at a starting line for someone to fire off a gun to begin the race you've been training for all your life. For me, 25 has been teetering on the edge that will define me for however long I let it: old enough to understand that I will apologize for my impatience as often as I will cherish it, and still too young to imagine myself letting it go.