|My friend Yolanda |
making adult dreams come true
When I first learned the concept of deferred gratification, I thought of my mother and layaway.
For only a dollar, we could shop for all of the school clothes or Christmas items we wanted and then the store would hold our dreams in one big room until my mother could afford to come back and get them.
At night, I dreamt of what I’d look like in my new bell- bottom pantsuit and my pleather boots with fringes. But in the day time, when the reality of our poverty was real, I knew that I’d never get the pant suit, the boots or anything else that had been laid away, or laid to rest as my siblings and I came to call it.
At first, I thought deferred gratification was the same thing; it’s anything but. Deferred gratification is the act of putting off what you want to work on what you need.
The ability to do so is life changing because during that period of working on what you need; you come to redefine the things you actually want.
Yesterday, I had a screaming migraine. The high pitch tone in my ear actually made me cry and all I wanted was relief. I was traveling so the loud noises of planes and airports only made things worse, but as with anything; the pain didn’t last forever.
I checked into a hotel and realized that I hadn’t eaten anything and needed to do so. I looked through the l room service menu and saw something that made my eyes twinkle. There on the menu was bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme Donuts. Now, I have never had this, so the child in me said “You want it,” but the adult said, “Have you lost your mind?” The adult said, “Woman, you need nourishment,” and the kid said; “Bread pudding has eggs in it.”
I went back and forth like this for some time until I felt the headache coming back and thought of what it would be like if I added sugar. So I had a salad and a veggie burger patty and told myself that I could have the bread pudding for breakfast.
Then I exercised, read a book and went to sleep. I woke up feeling like the headache had never happened and wanted to find another book to read. There was no desire for bread pudding. By putting off what I wanted and replacing it with what I needed, I changed my desire completely.
Today, I’m speaking at the graduation of a group of adults who have put off their wants to work on what they need. They have deferred the want of coming home from work and doing nothing, of hanging out with friends, going to their children’s events or just sitting and flipping channels. In exchange they have had to learn to write in APA format, and think critically about something they previously had not known. They have come to understand that brain work really does require more energy than physical labor and they are tired.
But in deferring their gratitude, they also transformed it. Their need to do nothing became a desire to complete a degree and that desire became a need to know more. They have burned their childish dreams and have been reborn from the ashes and like a Phoenix, they rise.
What childish dream can you defer? What wish can you transform?
Be you, be well, be reborn.
Bertice Berry, PhD.