“Why do you do this to yourself?”
A question I hear quite often. My go-to answer?: “Because I’m a closet masochist.” Which, while somewhat accurate, is not the entire answer.
What is this that I do to myself, you might ask? One word.
I am a textbook procrastinator. One might even call me a Professional Procrastinator. A Pro-Procrastinator? Anyway, yes, waiting until the last few hours to turn in an assignment that I have had an entire week to do is my superpower. Or, some may say, my kryptonite. My opinion falls somewhere in the middle of the two.
Unfortunately, the general opinion of procrastinators to our non-procrastinating friends are that we, as a whole, are lazy. Irresponsible. Immature. While that is true sometimes, let us consider another explanation, as told from a Pro-Procrastinator. Perhaps, it will give you a better understanding of the procrastinating mind. It is worth noting, however, that I do not speak for all procrastinators. This is just my analysis of why I so enjoy torturing myself, perhaps you can ask the procrastinator in your life their opinion.
Imagine being given a week to write an eight-page critical literary analysis on your choice of literature from a provided list . So, you start to write. Or, you try to. First, you must pick which piece of literature you want to use. That takes a day, at least. The next day you have your choice, you’ve already read it, and now you need to develop a thesis. What do you want to say about this piece? Oh, okay. There’s so much. So many ideas and opinions flitting through your mind that choosing just one seems impossible and when you go to choose one you immediately shoot it down with a simple thought of “That’s stupid, how are you going to back that up with evidence?” Or any other number of reasons until you soon have nothing. No ideas. No inklings of a thesis prodding at your mind and your fingers lie like little worms upon your keyboard—dead. So, you take a break. Complete another, easier assignment. Perhaps you go online or grab your Kindle and read for bit. That “bit” becomes four hours and then it’s the middle of the night and you have to go to bed because you have work the next day. So, the next evening you do it all over again. And again. And again…until it’s 7 o’clock on a Sunday night and you have five hours to write an eight-page paper, with sources and correct citations. Uh oh. Now you’re panicking. You’re sweating, stress eating, and flipping through your textbook like it holds the answer to the universe. Four hours left. You feel like you want to cry but you refrain. You open a fresh Word document. Create your heading and title…and then you start typing. You know you’re down to the wire so you don’t second guess that thesis statement you thought of while you were eating dinner, you just work with it. You Google search until you feel confident in your supporting evidence. Maybe not confident, but content. You’re okay with where it’s going. Even if you weren’t, you’re running out of time and you can’t doubt yourself now. Then, you’re done. You’re compiling and adding your bibliography, re-reading to double check for any glaring typos or grammatical errors, then you’re submitting it online with 5 minutes to spare and suddenly you can breathe again. At least for a week, until you have to do it all over again next Sunday.
You see, I don’t procrastinate just because I’m lazy. Albeit, I am sometimes. However, that’s not my primary reason for doing so. I’m not making excuses or saying that this process works for everyone, because it doesn’t. I just know that I have written some of my most highly praised papers when I was under pressure.
When I’m down to the wire, I don’t have time to overthink anything. I don’t have time to second guess. When I try to be proactive and I know I have time to tweak it and perfect it, I can’t even get it started. Overthinking and self-doubt are extremely detrimental. However, procrastination eliminates this problem. It takes away that extra time that I would use to doubt my ideas and my knowledge. If I’m running out of time, then I simply cannot second guess every single thought. If I did, I would never get any papers turned in because, after all, to a writer: nothing is ever good enough.