Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes and forever

by Stacey Ebert /
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Sep 07, 2023 / 0 comments

We’ve all played it—the waiting game. The one where the toddler asks for a treat and the grown up says wait till after dinner. The one where the ten-year-old can’t wait to stay up past bedtime when no one can say otherwise. The one when you can’t wait to get to the next level of whatever because then you can do this other thing. Oddly enough, the waiting seems like forever in the moment—yet, if you talk to any adult, as they were once that young toddler, it truly seems like five minutes. 

How do we manage our impatience of waiting while navigating the speed of the entire process?

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

Recently, I spoke with one of my most favorite twenty-year-olds. On the cusp of her senior year of university, she reminisced how it felt like five minutes ago that it was her first year. She remembered when she turned sixteen, she couldn’t wait to be twenty. Her Mom listened and replied, “why don’t you try turning seventeen first?” That one quick conversation showcased the story; at the time it felt like forever, but in reality, the journey felt like five minutes. 

University columns. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

We experience it everywhere. We wait all year for summer to begin…and a second later, school restarts. The World Series fills screens in the autumn and simultaneously, calendars denote the number of days till pitchers and catchers return. We research the trip and book the ticket for months down the track. We tell ourselves we have forever to save the cash and pack the bags—and the night before, we’re still checking our bank accounts and flinging those must-haves in carry-on bags. 

Waiting at a train station. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

It’s in all the spots we look and at all points of life: the days long, yet the years short. It’s the impulse buy versus the save for retirement mindset, the journey to the doctorate degree, and the time it takes to visit every state. If we’re lucky, we not only notice the time, both the five minutes and the forever, but somehow, amidst it all, we manage to savor the adventure. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

How on earth do we do that and then, how on earth do we teach that?

Consider a goal that seemed out of reach: saving for a new car, running that race, climbing that first mountain, learning that new skill. Somewhere deep down, there was an idea, a time in between where you thought about it, crafted a plan, and the dance of forward, sideways, and backwards to move ahead began. However long it takes is made up of multiple 24-hour periods. Those days are filled with the grit of the grind and motivational high fives, yet, when we get to the top and attain that dream, it’s the journey as a whole that’s seen.

Lighthouse. Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

Often, we’re not counting how many days, how many minutes, or hours or sweat or tears. What we notice is the overall enduring effort, connections, cheerleaders, dreamers, might, and the tenacity to continue. 

It’s September. In the northern hemisphere it’s a time of shifts and beginnings. The change in those long nights of August to cooler days of September, and the beginning of the next stage of a journey. There are those starting out and those continuing to put one foot in front of the other. A time of change, that which is often heightened by intense energy, triggers, doubt, excitement, goodbyes, and hellos. There’s a potent dichotomy of emotions between “I’ve waited for this moment” and “I can’t believe it’s here already.” 

The intersection of forever and five minutes is upon us – now what?

Fall fruit in a basket. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

A day one comes with a whole lot of everything and the distance between that first and the finish line whizzes by in the blink of an eye; yet if we can hold onto ourselves, we get to run our own race, travel at our own speed, and pick as many routes and detours as we need or choose. No matter the distance, we plan, prepare, do, and then we look behind us and are astounded by the sprint. 

As we step into this new chapter of our lives, how can we build our resources to help us navigate this space in between? How can we help our next generation strengthen their stores of patience, resilience, grit, and grace to remain present in the now, plan and hope for their tomorrows, and embrace the journey at every single step? To get to the how, we must take the first step. 

Ready or not, we’re on our way.

5 tips to navigate the angst and joys of this wait time journey

Hand holding compass in front of mountains and a lake. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

Noticing the views

Our memorable guide along Arizona’s Antelope Canyon shared remarkable wisdom that reached far beyond the trail. He reminded his fellow travelers that while we spent most of our hike taking in the forward sweeping views, he impressed upon us the importance of looking back to admire the path along the way. The path may be long, it takes multiple steps to get from beginning to end, yet it’s at that end where we’re empowered to recall the entire journey and take stock in what it took to reach the finish line. 

Mindfulness reinforces the pause, the paying attention, and the positive effects of savoring moments. Remind yourself of the work it took to get to where you are, your determination to make it to right now, and the power of the present experience. Notice the views along the way while you channel Ferris Bueller’s famous words, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Antelope Canyon. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

The dance of Disney 

I think I was two years old on my first visit to Disney. Eyes wide open, senses heightened, the big wide world of happiness at your fingertips. I fell in love with Dumbo, the flying elephant, and every visit after, it was one of my most favorite rides. From lift off to landing, the entire ride lasts exactly one and a half minutes. The line, however, is quite another story. There’s a tiny bit of shade, the line wraps a zillion times over, and often the wait is 45 minutes or longer. It’s quite literally waiting forever for less than five minutes. Life is exactly the same way, but often, the feeling of joy aloft for those 90 seconds is worth the wait. So, if a baby elephant can channel his fears, trust in the journey, and believe in the magic of a feather to trust that he can fly, we can channel our patience gene—and we too, can enjoy the flight.

Disney Dumbo ride. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

Challenges of change 

On a recent podcast, Mel Robbins shared stories of transitions and spoke on the challenges of change. The focus turned to this time of year as college drop off takes place, a new school year is underway, and the triggering entity of change and new beginnings is palpable. 

The takeaways: we build up these changes, but truly it might be best not to expect them to be exciting, that what we think it’s going to feel like in our minds is quite different from what we actually feel in our bodies, and that many of us experience freeze or fear at the exact moment when we say goodbye to the old and are ready to say hello to the new. 

Our tools: when we can share a ‘yes you can’ moment, when we can build a bridge from today to tomorrow, when we can flip gears amidst a tidal wave kind of moment, and allow the one experiencing change to borrow our faith until they’ve got it in droves, we triumph. Whether it’s waiting, the change, that forward momentum at warp speed, or a transition itself, we are stronger than we think, and we can most definitely do hard things. Deep breaths. Amidst the waiting, we step forward.

Field of wheat against sunset. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

Sometimes you have to back up to go forward

I don’t know about you, but I love penguin movies. Pop on Happy Feet and I’m smiling for hours. While the animated tales are often geared to the young, the wisdom shared in many is for all those young at heart. One piece of advice comes from Bryan the Beachmaster, an Elephant Seal who learns a lesson and imparts it to us all:  “sometimes you have to back up to go forward.” 

Life isn’t always linear. Growth isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes there’s waiting, sometimes it feels like forever, and sometimes, you must back up to go forward. Yet, if we aim to find the lesson and the learning in both the waiting, the direction, and the momentum, we’re bound to find gratitude, grace, and success. 

There’s wisdom everywhere we look—sometimes from a place we least expect.

Penguins! From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

Patience, positivity, and persistence

“Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals…grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something…Grit is about having what some researchers call an ‘ultimate concern’–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do…grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.”

Angela Duckworth, renowned author, esteemed psychologist, and co-founder of Character Lab, is known for her tireless work on grit. That mix of passion and perseverance in the quest of a long-term goal—this is her focus. 

Pursuit of any long-term goal involves waiting. 

Consider the movie, The Rookie, a story of a baseball player with a dream. He tries, he tries, he tries again, he teaches, he coaches, and many years older than the average player, he tries again. His major league moment comes decades after that initial dream…but the grit, desire, will, and passion never waned. And, while it definitely felt like forever to get there, in that great, big, magical moment, the blink of an eye might be a more apt descriptor. 

Baseball game. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Waiting Game – 5 minutes to forever

First steps, big dreams, deep breaths…here we go.


Please click the photo below for a collection of my Through the Eyes of an Educator columns:

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Compendium


Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at for more of her travel musings.