If you’re wondering why I’ve been quiet, it’s this: I have an important exam coming up in a month. I am extremely stressed out about this. So any spare minute that I’ve been calm enough to study, I’ve been studying, and when I haven’t been calm enough, I’ve been playing video games to try to calm down enough to study.
So I figured I’d post about procrastination. Because it’s relevant. And because something on Tumblr gave me an aha moment.
Procrastination is not and has never been a matter of laziness for me. I can and am willing to do the work. Usually, I like the work and find it fun. I have a strong work ethic. I have worked till 3 AM on experiments, then gotten up and arrived at work on time the next morning. Hard work is not alien to me.
It’s not a matter of being unwilling to do the work.
It’s a matter of anxiety.
I fear failure. Probably more than anything else in the world. I fear being a failure. I fear fucking up. I fear the consequences of fucking up. Even contemplating that I might fail the exam brings tears to my eyes and ties my stomach up in knots so tight there’s no room for my breakfast. Failure terrifies me.
Because, to me, failing a thing is being a failure. As a person. If I fail a thing, I am a failure, and therefore I am worth nothing.
I literally think that if I fail a thing, my life will fall apart and everyone will hate and abandon me. That’s a lot of pressure I put on myself. Because to me, it’s not just “I take a few make-up courses and try again next year,” if I fail, it’s my life is over because I will be a failure.
Do you understand?
I don’t think you do.
If you did, you wouldn’t tell me I shouldn’t stress. Maybe that I should be easier on myself, or that my assumptions about the consequences of things are wrong, but not that I shouldn’t stress. To my brain, success or failure is life and death. I can’t not be terrified about this.
And that is why I procrastinate. Because prepping for the test is dancing on the cliff’s edge, and sometimes I just can’t stare into the yawning chasm and think about how to avoid falling anymore.