A friend recently complimented me by saying that I underestimate my strength. She based this claim on the fact that I am able to commit wholeheartedly to things that have a no immediate pay-off.
The case in point, going back to become qualified as a psychologist, which not only is a commitment of 4+ years of delayed gratification, but one that (I laughed manically) isn’t even guaranteed. At the moment I am impelled furiously by needing to get uncannily high marks if I want to continue beyond this year. Thus, to me at least, this supposed strength seems born of necessity, not any core Herculean tendencies or ability to commit to anything beyond the next five minutes.
I always need a goal, one that is usually long-term and has little to no immediate gratification. It is like my rudder, it keeps me feeling directed and committed to a course of beneficial action. I rely on this rudder wholeheartedly because it somehow compensates for the rest of my behaviour; the spaces in-between that are comprised entirely of spontaneity.
Once an idea enters my mind, it will happen, either immediately or through a more protracted period of obsession while I wait to create the time and the means. I have no internal off switch: the part that says that’s enough! A lot of this spontaneity is inspiring, a lot is hazardous, but either high is kept somehow under control by this greater plan: it balances out my momentary distraction so they remain just that, momentary.
Having a larger goal, then, seems to provide me with a vicarious structure for self-discipline: a way to balance complete freedom and a greater purpose. Is this strength? I’m not so sure. Is it delayed gratification? Not when you have so many other ideas keeping you busy along the road.
Amidst this forward momentum and momentary distraction there is a constancy. It doesn’t come from all my internal inconsistency, but through somehow knowing that spirit is really in charge of it all. Most of my time is spent being grateful that I am on the ride at all. Trusting in the destination, trusting in a future that is yours - but is created out of more than you could ever be alone - is a true measure of strength.