Procrastination is one of those ugly traits I’ve adopted into the creases of my personality and interwoven into my laundry of life so tightly that I’ve spent many a night agonizing over projects I should have finished earlier. Ironically, that includes this one as well. In contrast to many of my other childhood faux pas that I was encouraged to curb (tactlessness, the thrill of the fight, being unenthusiastic and cold in the face of opposition) procrastination was never one of them. Conversations with friends became peppered with fights over who had procrastinated the longest on an assignment – in essence, a dick measuring contest of mental concentration and fortitude. In a world where we have sublimated our ancestral desire for violent competition in the name of ‘propriety’ this is the arena we fought our battles in. And the most significant level of destruction was that of the self.
If ever there was a low-scoring power combination of personality traits it would be anxiety and procrastination. This is the professional calling card I’ve come to bear.
I’m learning to love it.
For my entire college career as my anxiety spiraled and my health declined, that one constant in my life became the crutch I needed to push aside my glaringly unresolved issues with validation through success and excuse my own detrimental behavior. I’d wrap my insecurities and guilt in platitudes like “you’ve done your best given the circumstances” even though I knew I had done far from that. Lying to myself became the best con I’d ever pulled. However, it wasn’t something I could sustain and make a life out of. Somehow, I had to pull myself out of the gutter.
So I did.
I would love to be able to tell you that I had a rock-bottom. That I failed a course or was fired from a job or lost a friendship over my unhealthy behavior. Truth is – I never did. It was entirely insignificant. I woke up one morning (having labored over months of knowing I was wallowing in a cesspool of my own insecurities and not knowing how to stay afloat) and decided I needed to do better.
Simply put, instead of fighting against the anxiety and fear fueling my insecurities about self-worth amid my peer’s successes, I took that little anxiety bitch and gave it a kiss and said “we’re gonna do this whether you like it or not, so buckle the fuck up.”
And we did.
I stopped waiting for someone to give me permission to do better, and I stopped beating myself up over having fucked it up this far.
I started exercising every day to help with my anxiety and better my health. I cut out most of the sugary shit I had been eating just to feel satisfied. I applied to graduate school. I took it upon myself to stop saying “tomorrow” to projects I wanted to do, and to say yes to more things.
Basically, I’m living a life entrenched in that awful feeling people who lean on procrastination intimately know – being in the middle of things. I’m slowly coming to terms with the idea that life is a process that you never reach the ending of, and you can either live it entirely hoping for the grand finale or you can embrace living in medias res.
The moral of the story – at some point I said to myself that I deserve it to myself to do better and to be better. You can too.