Anyone who knows me will tell you I struggle with the concept of waiting. I pick recipes based on the amount of time I'll be standing over the stove waiting for the pot to boil. I get huffy with my partner if they're 10 minutes late to something. And I'm the kind of person who inches forward at an intersection because the red lights are just holding me up.
My chronic impatience might have something to do with the fact that I've never seen the appeal of gardening. I've always thought that it was an activity reserved for enthusiastic toddlers and bored retirees. I would cringe when I heard people refer to themselves as a 'plant parent'.
Even when COVID-19 forced people around the world to stay home, I couldn't understand why young people like me suddenly developed an obsession with growing things.
I survived the 2020 lockdown thinking I was superior to those who had succumbed to what seemed to me to be the most mind-numbingly boring hobby you could possible choose to partake in - gardening.
But when Sydney was faced with another lockdown and I was forced to move back in with my parents in a hotspot LGA, I found myself in what seemed like a never-ending waiting game. All I could do was get vaccinated - and wait.
Before I'd moved back in with my parents, I had noncommittally tried my hand at growing some seedlings despite my distaste for gardening. And in my hasty flight back home I'd had the foresight to bring them with me.
Now, with more time on my hands than I knew what to do with, those seedlings seemed like the perfect solution. The most important part of growing plants was just waiting for them to grow, right? If I gave them a drink every day or two, they'd stay alive and in turn help me mark time through lockdown.
What I hadn't expected was that my plants would teach me a lesson in patience.
During the first week of looking after my plants, I was troubled by their lack of apparent progress. No green shoots emerged from the soil. None of my propagated plants showed any signs of taking root. Still, I watered and tended to them - needing the routine to give meaning to my days.
It took longer than I had anticipated, but slowly my garden began to grow. I watched in fascination as the fine roots on my mint cutting grew stronger each day. I lovingly transferred seedlings into bigger pots as they outgrew their first homes. I waited and waited and waited some more for my avocado seeds to begin growing roots.
I watched as life began to emerge from the soil. Never all at once but rather slowly, steadily and in its own time.
I learned not to give up on my plants just because they were taking a little while to grow. And it turn it felt like I was unfurling a new leaf of my own - a newfound sense of patience. My willingness to wait for my plants to do their thing began to bleed into the way I thought about other parts of my life.
I was unfurling a new leaf of my own - a newfound sense of patience.
When I began to feel stressed about reaching the end of a workday without completing my to-do list, I found myself leaning to make peace with it. My plants didn't worry about productivity, they simply responded to the ever rising and setting sun. Watching their progress, I came to realise that there would always be a new workday (and a new to-do list) tomorrow.
When a friend messaged asking about what I was reading and I realised I'd fallen behind on my reading goal for the year, I didn't feel like a failure. If a plant grows too fast without taking root, it weighs itself down. There was no point in burdening myself with an impressive reading list if it made me feel overwhelmed.
I would much rather be like my plants. Willing to savour both the sunshine and the rain - to find life in amongst it all.
Now that my city is tentatively coming out of lockdown, I find myself facing stresses that hadn't existed in lockdown. There are people to see, places to go, plans to make.
But each morning as I water my plants, I'm reminded that those things don't need to be rushed. I can begin getting back to normal life while still finding time to stop and smell the roses.