We all want to be exactly who we’re meant to be right now. But we don’t always get what we want, do we? That’s where resilience and patience with rejection come in, and we need them now more than ever.
How do you think it would feel to fast-forward to the finish line of where you were meant to be now, instead of decades from now? Probably pretty damn good, like you were way ahead of your time, ahead of the curve and well on your way. But where are you on your way to? And how would you know if it’s the final form, or better yet, the right one?
Patience is lost on many of us today. We all want what we want, and we want it now.
A perfect role model for such a topic is the 2020 Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. If you didn’t know, this is not Joe’s first foray into a presidential run, nor is this our burning endorsement of him. In fact, it’s not even his second. But after more than 30 years, he’s finding his way, which proves you’re never too old to be a work in progress, and the right thing doesn’t always come along right away, but rather is an achievement after a lifetime of dedication, patience and resilience despite failures.
Biden joined the US Senate in 1972. That’s 48 years ago, longer than many of us have been alive. Most of us have been at our jobs fewer than five years, and those of us who have are burnt out and sick of it, ready to move onto the next phase of life. But Joe has dug his feet in, made many mistakes — enough to learn what the right thing is — and every time he feels he’s ready to lead, he learns again he’s not quite there.
In June of 1987, he announced his first run for president in 1988, before or near the time many of us were born. You could say Joe’s had your entire lifetime to get good at what he does, to be rejected and to come back with a better version of himself. Notably, he resigned from his first run after failing to attribute the source of some of his most memorable campaign moments, a mistake he openly carries with him and makes sure to never make again.
Two decades later, he again put his hat in the ring for president in 2008, conceding to a young, charismatic man who would take the country in a healthy, new direction. The first Black president, Barack Obama recognized the experience, the hard-lessons learned and the humanity gained from that experience, as well as the rejection, and so appointed Joe to be his vice president for eight years through 2016.
In 2015, however, Joe endured the loss of his son, Beau, a young and committed man of achievement in his own right, a devastating blow to the country and to his family. Had it not been for this loss, Biden would have likely stepped up to run for a third time in 2016 against our current president.
In this life, most people don’t know what they really want. And even fewer know what they need. Without years of dedication to a craft, we’ll never know all the wrong ways to do something. You think Jimi Hendrix just picked up a guitar and played “Purple Haze?” It doesn’t work like that. It’s the constant failures and rejections that teach us, but it’s the resilience to push through them that take us to the next level. And after years upon years of moving upward, if we’re lucky, after stubbing our toes again and again, we arrive to a place where we can look back and say, “Wow, I have done something.”
Although Joe had assumed his window for the presidency had closed, he quickly learned that despite all his years of service, he had not quite finished what he set out to do. The many personal losses, the many professional defeats, the frustration of the world today, none of it could stop him from persevering through the massive crowd of younger, hungrier candidates with their own forms of resilience.
Without failure, we need no resilience. Without frustration, we’d never understand the struggle to truly understand something we’re passionate about. And without rejection, we’d have no appreciation for the victories. Patience. We all need patience in finding where we’re meant to be.
Oftentimes, we think we know where we’re going and get distracted, resenting these distractions as obstacles in our way, when really they’re part of our journey.
At 78, an age most people would sit back and sip lemonade and watch the ball game, Joe forewent afternoons under the Delaware sun to find himself where he was always meant to be. We all want to be exactly who we’re meant to be right now, though we may not have a clue, even if we think we do.
We don’t always get what we want, but if we stay patient, stay open and consistently push on, sometimes, we get something much better.