I'll write the title later ...
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Category: Opinion > Columns
Were Procrasti-Nation a country, I would be its queen. Supreme ruler over endless matches of computer solitaire, hours of channel flipping and impromptu trips to the grocery store for nothing in particular. My throne would be built from Tetris blocks and cushioned with the inane fluff that fills 98 percent of all Facebook statuses.
Like any other art form, procrastination takes practice to perfect. But it's the kind of non-practice that festers in your bones, slowly eating away at the tiny cells that long for a job well done. An utter undoing of desire for success and the sensation of defeat as apathy settles in. And this is problematic, because as much as I love to procrastinate, I still want to not fail all of my classes.
Dead week was a disaster. I caught up on an entire season of 30 Rock before beginning to think about starting a truly massive final paper. Exams took a back seat to mid-afternoon naptime and AnonCon browsing. I hit up Trader Joe's and baked a lemon-plum cake instead of writing this column (until the incessant ticking of my wall clock forced me to get my lazy ass in gear).
There's a part of me - small as it may be - that is so grateful to the 72-minute limit on Megavideo, because without the required waiting period between time allotments, it is distinctly possible that I would never get anything done. Ever. That screen pops up, so rudely interrupting a perfectly relatable Liz Lemon moment, telling me to get to work, and a flash of rage surges through my body.
Why should some computer tell me what to do or how to spend my time? Oh, it wants me to take a break from watching video after video and actually do something productive? I refuse!
Naturally, I'll take the opportunity to switch over to old episodes of The West Wing ready and waiting on my desktop. It's a rare, but satisfying day when I choose to forgo my small screen distractions for a half-hour of reading.
It never used to be this way. Once upon a time, I was young and ambitious, with hobbies and extracurricular activities to occupy my life. School assignments were always completed, sometimes even whole days before they were due. I took the initiative, I was proactive! I had set goals for myself that didn't involve discovering how little effort I could put into my work and still get away with it.
I find it wholly unsettling to look back on my short life and wonder if I were a better person at age nine than I am at 19. It's like checking your inbox and finding a supposedly "empowering" chain-email from your mother ... kind of endearing, but mostly just worrisome. (By the way, ladies, your greatest wish will come true if you share this column with 10 of your closest friends!)
Good habits are drilled into our wee little brains while they're still soft and still moldable, in the hopes that traits like punctuality and integrity will stick with us as we grow older. But frankly, when your biggest worry is remembering to get a parent signature on a field trip permission slip, there isn't all that much of an opportunity to drop the ball. Responsibilities are limited. Homework is done because it has to be-there's no other way to acquire those scratch-n-sniff stickers that elementary school teachers used to put on perfect spelling tests.
It's a matter of baby steps: from nightly cursive practice to weekly quizzes on times tables. Summer book reports come next, maybe even some watered-down sort of science project. Suddenly, we're grown up; whole semesters can go by and the only thing that holds you accountable for the work is a final exam that you can't bring yourself to prepare for.
I think somewhere along the way, we must have forgotten how to walk. Or, at the very least, forgotten how to pick ourselves back up when we stumble and land on the floor, instead of just sitting there, watching the world pass by.
There is a law of life - of British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson, to be more precise - that says, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." In other, less eloquent words, if we have a day to write a paper, we'll do it in a day; if we're given a week, we'll take the whole darn thing, down to every last minute.
It's a little bit tragic, really, and I can't help but wonder if I'll be forever doomed to this seemingly trivial fate.
Summer starts tomorrow, though, mere hours away (yes, I've been counting - you probably have, too), and that means empty days and minimal morning alarm clock usage. I've got three glorious months to waste before I have to think about any of this academic nonsense again ... Better get started.
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