Procrastination and anxiety

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.

Who gave me the productivity pill?

I have no idea how I managed it, but, I’ve completed a bunch of stuff early lately.

  • Two work reports (two days and three days early, respectively)
  • Two homework assignments (okay, both only a day early, but still, early is early)
  • Annnnd *drumroll please* my research proposal.

The last of which I’m just freaking gobsmacked over because I finished it five days early.

Five days!

That never happens. Never! Especially not since it was something new to me (I’ve written proposals before, but never for my research, just for someone else who’s bad at writing and needed me to put their thoughts into pretty words for them. I’ve never written one on my own for my stuff).

How the fuck have I ended up on top of the metaphorical ball and how the hell do I stay here?

Allow me to explain how freaking huge this is: In high school, I would’ve been hitting submit about two minutes before it was due. In uni same deal. I used to have to wake up at Oh God Early (think ~2AM, and I was a kid who usually didn’t go to bed till 1ish because I was a night owl for both high school and uni), and pound it out morning it was due.

The procrastination monkey has been on my back pretty much constantly since I was born, is what I’m saying.

But not right now. I’m getting shit done. On time. I am baffled. How the heck did this happen?

How do I keep it up?