They say it’s a skill for one to be able to possess the self-control to do one simple thing; wait.
In 1960 a psychologist named Walter Mischel put together what is known as the “Marshmallow Experiment” and ran a study at Stanford University that would last decades. In the experiment, scientists would offer small children two choices; to have one marshmallow now, or to wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows later. The studies showed children fell into three categories; those who had no issue waiting to get their two, those who squiggled and squirmed in their seats ultimately giving into temptation moments before they would have been rewarded with double the sweets but now would not be, and those who scooped up that treat the moment it was offered, never to even entertain the idea of what life may be like with two marshmallows.
Nearly three decades later they revisited those same children and were surprised to find such a direct correlation to personal success. The children who waited tended to go on and do better in life than their counterparts. Higher SAT scores, level of education reached, job success, and even body mass index. Overall, those who possessed the ability to wait for the idea situation at the age of 5 were often were rewarded for it at the age of 35.
Guess which kid I was? Oh, five year old me wouldn’t have even lasted a millisecond before scooping up the singular marshmallow offered. I will give myself a little credit and say I would have never coveted that second marshmallow, but I would have envied the drive the children who waited for it displayed. That is what I coveted.
It’s a skill, I am still learning.
Most of us were not personally part of the marshmallow experiment, but we all know exactly where we would fall if we were. We all know that if we just have patience and faith, we will be rewarded.
But it’s so damn hard.
I even find myself sitting here quoting my two favorite mantras on the subjects:
“Just keep swimming.” – Dory, 2003 (Patience)
“Everything has a way of working out, it all comes out in the wash.” – My Mom-Mom, 1927-2006 (Faith)
I often wonder what my grandmother would say if she had lived long enough to see me put all those words of wisdom she threw at me in my childhood into actual use.
June was full of waiting for me. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes as The Dreamer is in its final stages before publication. Some of it has been easy, and a matter of just working hard and some of it has been a true test of patience and faith. I am very proud of myself that I saw one situation out to the end of the road, even though I was unsure the entire time it would lead me anywhere. Where it led me to was having to push back my release date, and though that stinks in some ways, I have been rewarded in others. I was able to go to the powers that be at Torrid Books and offer them a clear, complete picture of my troubles, and in turn, they were able to swoop in with full confidence and save the day. It makes me feel good that though my readers may have to wait these extra forty days, I can offer them so much more because they did.
There is so much more to book making than there is to book writing. I am but a babe in the woods. There are so many exciting things headed your way, but for me, the reality is I wait….and I wait…and I wait…for some of these things to fall into place. As I said in this recent interview, every overnight success story is really twenty years in the making.
Cheers to the ones who are breaking their backs to make it all seem that way.
This is the beginning of my journey of patience and faith, and it will not be the last time I have to remind myself to hold back and wait a beat before I continue on with my march. It will not be the last time I have to squiggle and squirm in my seat to keep myself from leaping before I’m ready.
If you see me telling you in the weeks to come to just keep swimming, know that I am telling myself.
If you see me reminding you that everything is going to work out, know that I am reminding myself.
Time, patience, faith my friends…and the beat goes on.