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Op-Ed: Patience and Waiting Are Not The Same by Yelda Ali

Painting by Ames Rattray

September 27, 2020

This past week, the Camel Assembly community celebrated five years of Sisterhood. Camel Assembly is the child’s pose of community. You’re able to tap in as much as you like, when you like, and for as long as you like. I’ve seen everything from women becoming mothers and business owners, showing up to their health and purpose, healing themselves and those around them. I’ve witnessed an ecosystem that authentically operates from non-judgmental listening, abundant-mindedness, and safety. And I have been blessed to be a participant of this space and sustained by some of the most wicked women you could imagine. 

Naturally, as we hit the 5-year mark, I started reflecting on the very first Assembly, a brunch on a Manhattan rooftop in September 2015. Thirty-five women sat in a Circle and shared who we were, not what we did. This is the ritual we have carried on since and it’s created a lot of magic, as rituals do. It has also created many opportunities to show up for and give to one another. 

I remember a message I shared with the sisters that day, a lesson that I was only starting to open my eyes to then. 

Nobody is coming, I cried. 

I was four months away from my thirtieth birthday and reflecting on how rapid slash tumultuous my twenties had been. I was shocked that I wasn’t where I imagined I would be and it had taken a toll on my confidence. I was supposed to be twenty-five sitting on twenty-five mill too! What happened? 

What happened to the people who were “supposed to”: 

  • reply to my email 

  • give me the interview 

  • provide me with opportunity 

  • believe in me 

  • teach me 

  • help me build 

  • guide me 

  • understand me

  • love me 

  • respect me 

Where are they? Why do I feel so alone and unaccomplished? Well, on that sunny September afternoon, I practically shouted off the rooftop: Nobody is coming! Nobody came! 

I remember a few blank faces look back at me in that Circle, younger women who couldn’t have understood because they were still believers of the “that won’t happen to me because I’m different” and “I’m immune to life’s harsh realities” narratives. But over the past five years, many of those sisters in that first Assembly have reached out to me saying—Yelda, I finally understand what you meant. 

Because as Dr. Seuss has eloquently rapped about, the waiting zone is dangerous and all too often, we get stuck there. There’s a whole cast of people that will never come, friend. What I had to learn since the-most-important-brunch-of-my-life was that patience and waiting are not the same thing. Patience is a virtue, and waiting is a waste. Now, this isn’t to say collaboration and support aren’t amazing elements of being human, but I’m telling you here, what you will bring to life will come from you living. You are who you’re waiting for.

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