If I may speak frankly, I hate the word Procrastination. The act of procrastinating, putting off work that is necessary for me to complete, has filled me with anxiety and fear throughout my life. Lost in thought a few days ago I began wondering, like all tasks that are uncomfortable, did I procrastinate on coming out? Did mere avoidance play a part in not coming out until I was 29 years old? This lead me to further examine my relationship with procrastination and to unearth some old wounds.
In college, I was afraid of not being as good a student as my peers. I was afraid that I was not studying the correct major and that this was the reason I always felt so out of place. I was afraid that I was on the wrong path and that I would never find the right one. I was afraid that I had a concentration problem and that I would never be able to focus on my studies. I was afraid of being a bad student. I was afraid of letting myself down. I was afraid of letting my professors down. I was afraid that my friends would view me as weak and too fragile. I spent a lot of time feeling unsettled, like I was about to fail at every moment. I feared deadlines, papers, tests, and of course, finals.
Looking back on it, these feelings of dread have stayed with me even ten years after college has ended. I’ve never really let myself off the hook for having these feelings in college. I still have not let Adam, age 18 to 22, off the hook for being scared. God, I’ve been so mad at him because he was so scared.
Procrastination became a way to avoid these intense feelings of fear, inadequacy and sadness. I would avoid work by spending time hanging out with friends, talking, laughing, visiting stores to pass time, attending parties and simply walking around campus. Alone I would watch TV and movies, chat online, endlessly Google more entertaining topics and masturbate.
My sophomore year I started seeing a counselor to talk about, what at the time we labeled as, my anxiety caused by my procrastination. On top of everything else I was feeling I began to feel guilt for procrastinating. Obviously procrastinating was something I was doing which was leading me to have trouble in my classes and feel anxious.
Part of the real bitch of procrastination was the wedge it created between me and myself. All of the classes I missed, and all of the work I didn’t complete, became attacks I was personally performing against myself. I became an enemy to me. I was an obstacle between myself and happiness. What a horrible way to feel about yourself. How do you move forward with yourself if you think you are the enemy?
Looking back, I was trying so hard in college. I just wanted people to like me. It felt so important that people like me. I just wanted to be interesting, funny and worth their time. Perhaps school work and classes played second fiddle to this need to be liked. But, in all honesty, does this really make me any different from every other college student in the world?
Now, I wish I could go back and give myself a hug. Tell myself that it will all be ok and let myself know that when it is all said and done college will be a bundle of happy memories. Tell myself that procrastination, and all the fear it covers up, will not define me. And that at the end of it all, what is most important is that I forgive myself for being afraid and being flawed and for deep down just wanting to be liked.
Moving forward, I try to remind myself to not give the word procrastination so much weight. It is, after all, just a word. Remember that it is possible to still be successful and accomplished with occasional procrastination. Give yourself permission to keep going and complete tasks at your pace in your own time. And remember to give yourself credit for the tasks you do complete, they are successes. And it is important to remind myself that everyone procrastinates, and the act of procrastination does not make us bad people or any less worthy of love.
In the end, Gentle Reader, it is important to not procrastinate on loving yourself. Give yourself as much time as it takes. That ticking clock is not judging us.
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Some related articles on Procrastination you may find interesting
Mind Tools: Overcoming Procrastination
Smithsonian.com: Why Procrastination is Good for You