Waiting in Anticipation: Are Things Really Worth the Wait?

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We’ve all had situations that made us feel as if we were waiting for something extraordinary to happen, and it makes us feel a combination of nervousness and excitement at the same time.

To wait in anticipation of something is an amazing feeling that can also be terrifying, but what does it really mean?

More importantly, if you wait in anticipation of something, is that event ever really worth it in the end? While these scenarios aren’t life-or-death situations, it’s still good to know the answers to these questions.

What Does “Waiting in Anticipation” Actually Mean?

Before we go into more detail about being made to wait in anticipation of something, we have to know what the expression means. Actually, the waiting in anticipation meaning can be explained several ways, with the word “anticipation” meaning the following:

  • Expecting or awaiting something that will happen
  • Expecting nervously
  • Eagerly awaiting something that you know is going to happen
  • Expecting that someone will arrive or something will happen
  • Preparing for something that is going to happen

As you can see, anticipation is basically awaiting an event you know is going to happen, and even though it is usually a positive event, that isn’t always the case.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that when someone is anticipating something, they aren’t a little bit nervous about it. Sometimes their excitement alone adds to the amount of nervousness they feel.

What Types of Events Cause People to Wait in Anticipation?

As you can imagine, there are literally hundreds of scenarios that allow people to wait nervously or excitedly in anticipation.

Again, most of these events are positive, but some are more negative and even nerve-wracking. Different people handle anticipation in different ways, so an event that makes you excited and happy might make another person nervous and tense.

That being said, below are some of the most common events that people can wait for in anticipation:

  • The result of a job interview
  • A wedding or birthday party
  • The outcome of a sporting competition
  • The results of an exam or test
  • A new movie
  • A new product
  • A trip or vacation

There is also psychology involved when people wait in anticipation of something, including the following characteristics:

1.  People Usually Anticipate Happy Events

It’s a common trait among people to anticipate events that are considered happy events. Your brain never goes to sleep or shuts off, and anticipation affects the part of the brain that has to do with automatic behavior, which means most people automatically feel anticipation when they know that something positive is going to happen.

In addition, when a person anticipates a happy event, the neurotransmitter called dopamine keeps coming.

Dopamine is released in the frontal lobe of the brain and causes excitement and arousal. In other words, your brain is simply wired to anticipate happy events, and this is true for both optimists and pessimists.

2.  If You’re in Distress, Your Level of Anticipation Usually Decreases

While anticipation is there when you’re waiting for an enjoyable event to occur, it can go down if you’re stressed out about something.

With any event, people will anticipate what the event is going to be like once it arrives. If the event ends up being different than what they were expecting, this can cause them to be stressed out, which brings down their level of anticipation.

When this happens, most people do one of two things: they adapt to the situation and move on with their experience, or they avoid it altogether.

When people adapt to the occurrence, they usually are much happier in the end than they would’ve been if they had avoided it. Let’s face it — being able to adapt to something unexpected is a great life skill to have for many reasons.

3.  Everyone’s Reaction to Anticipation Is Based on Their Past Experiences

Just like a lot of other things in life, people’s reaction to the anticipation of an event is going to be based on things that happened to them in the past.

Whether people are predicting or preparing for a future event, the way they anticipate the event will depend on their past experiences. What happened in the past always affects how they feel about future events.

This can help you understand why you are feeling the way you are when you’re in anticipation of something. Are you excited? Nervous? Apprehensive? Unsure?

Your reaction will depend on what type of event you’re awaiting and your reactions to similar events in the past. What makes some people elated can make others feel nervous or apprehensive.

Are the Events You’re Anticipating Worth the Wait?

Most studies have shown that most Americans don’t mind waiting, especially if they’re waiting on a happy event. Naturally, some events are going to be worth waiting for while others aren’t.

Some of the biggest events that most people find very much worth the wait include the following:

  • A vacation. If you’re anticipating a vacation or leisure trip, you’ll find that except for rare circumstances, it is always worth the wait. Whether you go on vacation every year or haven’t had time off in years, a vacation is always worth waiting for simply because it is both very relaxing and a lot of fun.
  • Waiting for a big sale. Everything you wish to buy is eventually going to go on sale, and if you’re patient enough to wait, you can buy them on sale and save tons of money in return. Ask any shopper and they’ll tell you that a big sale is always worth the wait!
  • Holding your child for the very first time. Having a baby is an amazing experience and likely the most important day of your life. After waiting for nine long months, finally being able to hold your baby and cuddle is a feeling unlike any other in the world. Whether it is your first child or your fifth, the experience is unforgettable.
  • Getting the job of your dreams. If you’ve always wanted to get a particular job but it’s taking longer than you expected it to, don’t worry because it will eventually happen, and when it does, you’ll definitely agree that waiting and working for the job will be worth it in the end.
  • Buying your very first home. Almost everyone wishes to be a homeowner some day, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work on your credit, save up your money, and find the perfect house and the perfect mortgage. When it all comes together, it’s a feeling like no other and one that you’ll agree was worth the wait.
  • Finding the love of your life. Some people date for years before finding their soulmate, but once you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you’ll agree that that person was definitely worth the wait.


Waiting in anticipation of an event or special occurrence is usually worth the wait in the end. Most humans anticipate pleasant or happy events because this is the way their brains are wired. The way you react to future events depends in part on your past experiences.

It’s also very common for people to experience various feelings when they’re anticipating something, including excitement, nervousness, happiness, apprehension, and even a little bit of tension. Different people can have different reactions to the same event, but most people look forward to these events.


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