These are my last days in Halifax (for 2008), and while I should be patting myself on the back for a semester well-done, and looking forward to the ability to goof off, I can't. Once I get home I have what a conservative estimate would put at 10 000 words or so to research, type up, and email in. It will be mathematically possible to get more than 50% on maybe 5000 of these words. Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to have to type something like 6 or 7 thousand words for absolutely no benefit to anyone. They aren't going to make the poor TA who gets stuck reading them a week or two after they thought they wouldn't have to worry about this kind of thing, they're not going to be worth any marks. For that matter, if I were on time it still wouldn't inspire anyone to read what I had submitted.
Of course, that's not the point. An essay's just a take-home exam with some arbitrary rules attached. Similarly, the point and purpose of writing an essay isn't what I wanted to write about. This post is about procrastination, and how it can ruin your ability to live – and maybe even love – comfortably.
The Motto of the Procrastinator
“Too little, too late” (free association: Too Little Too Late is the first track on Maroon by Barenaked Ladies, and the next song on that album, Never Do Anything [I think it's called] is a perfect anthem for procrastination). Runners-up would include such greats as “Why do today what you can put off 'til tomorrow?”, and “but I still have three whole hours until it's due!”. Procrastination affects the quality of the work, as much as the scheduling. With most schoolwork, this isn't as much of a problem as one might assume. Unless you're the highly-motivated sort (ie. My sister), a B on your report card is no Bee in your bonnet. The problem with procrastination is when it begins to seep outside school, and you start to see every task as an essay, in some sort of perverse twist on Math Curse! Dishes, appointments, housecleaning, laundry, Friends*...
...what I guess I'm trying to say here is that I've spent the last few months slamming the snooze button on everything. That doesn't even make much sense! I don't even pound the snooze button on my alarm! I either turn it off or stay in bed and listen to the radio. And there you go, I put off getting out of bed. I didn't leave the house today, so I haven't even changed out of my pyjamas. Before this goes into the realm of TMI (which it may have done already, for all I know), I'm sure you'll see the pattern. This goes beyond poor study habits, and into the realm of actually serious problems here.
*like, organizing things with them. I don't mean the TV show
The Reader's Question
Why must I read about your terrible habits? Aren't you supposed to be lecturing me on copyright?
Yeah. I'll get to that someday. I think I've made enough of a ruckus, and the conservative party might not even get the chance to put their brain-dead bill-for-Bill** through the house. Speaking of procrastination, what the fuck, Harper? As if I weren't tired of your pseudo-propaganda about how, in some way, a majority of seats in the House of Commons isn't actually a majority, but in fact a slight against Canadians, you had to go and let this rotten issue fester through the holiday season. I did really try not to become so antipathetic toward your party, once. With C-61 you certainly lost some confidence, but it was the sort of legislation that any government sufficiently in the pocket of big business would enact, no big deal, right? But between that, the whole “unborn victims of crime” business, and now, this, a political crisis of your own making...well, let's just say you've lost my sympathies. Look, if you took it on the chin and moved out of 24 Sussex like a big boy, you could at least crack a sm—oh who am I kidding? -- popped and locked***(?) in a satisfied-looking manner for having left Dion with the tab for those much needed renovations.
** Bill, as in Gates, the guy who wants to control your mind **** < /sarcasm >
*** Do you see what I did there it is because he is a robot ha ha.
**** Actually those ads with Sienfeld would make a lot more sense if they were just a vehicle for some kind of subliminal messages. Conspiracy Theory? THEORIZED!
Ok, reader. There art thou happy?
Ah, but you are not yet fully answered, you claim? Why write a post in the form “[clearly bad thing] is bad for [clearly valid reasons] and I am [clearly upset] about this”?
I think it is because I don't think I am the only one. Pretty much everyone in my house has been struggling to adapt to a second-year that places all the work at the end of the semester. While I didn't have quite the distributed load of FYP (one essay per two weeks, for the uninitiated), only some of my courses had very much work before the end. Only one of my courses had ongoing homework assignments. The rest had no more than four. The downside of this, I find, is that missing an assignment carries a penalty that is likely to be somewhere around 25% of the total grade (estimate). Add to this the fact that I haven't properly prepared for an exam since Grade 9, and that the only exam I've felt positive about my performance on in the last 5 years or so was first-year political science at Carleton, and you can see that things are not looking up for me.
So, your answer: I'm writing this because I want out. Not necessarily out of school, unless I had a very solid business plan to scape up cash (for an eventual return to education, maybe a house, maybe a cardboard box if things go south, I have no idea). Mostly, I want out of this mindset that playing Bioshock now is going to have a positive enough effect on me that it will offset the misery of late essays and inevitable failure. There, I said it. Failure. Clearly I am going to fail some courses this semester. I failed some last semester. Possibly not the semester before that, depending on how you handle a full-year course in the equations. Usually, I don't think I'd say anything about this, because poor academic performance seems like it would carry a significant amount of stigma in my usual social group. The key mitigating factor here is that this is on the internet, and therefore not real. But also, I'm tired of saying “eh, not great” whenever someone asks.
I want out of this mindset, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.
Clearly, wasting thousands of dollars isn't doing anything for my sanity. I'm going to owe my parents...probably all of it, when things are said and done, and it seems mighty foolish not to derive any benefit from it.
The glorious thing about failure is that it permits us to learn. I've always felt cheated when in, say, math class, the teacher will generally give an example for how a particular problem is solved, how a variable is attained. I always wanted to find the answer for myself, no matter how many different approaches I had to try. The satisfaction of doing something is ever so much greater when the path wasn't mapped out ahead of you. Of course, I don't tend to make my own ruts when I cross-country ski, but since you, the reader, are 100% likely not to be Jean-Paul Sartre, we can talk about this kind of bad faith another time.
In actually good faith, however, I don't think I'm going to type up any kind of proposed solution. I think I know the first couple of steps that I'm going to take, and I'll update once they have been taken. At some point, I'll also have to finish those assignments, but just leaving the house once this week to do something that isn't Bioshock or Slings and Arrows or Dungeons and Dragons will be achievement enough.
What I will do is solicit anonymous comments. Even if you have a blogger sign-in or OpenID or whatever. How has procrastination made your life suck worse than it normally does? Have you tried to do anything about it? Will you?
Still to come:
Run Lola Run: Critique of Existentialism?
The Liberal Party, and why replacing Dion might be good for them, but not us.
***** Last note, I swear. Watch the video. Once the male judge has finished speaking STOP WATCHING, but more importantly STOP LISTENING. I am not responsible for the damage that hearing Mary Murphy's godawful screech can inflict upon a person. Incidentally, while guest judge lil' C uses “buck” to refer specifically to physical performance, I'm fudging my definition to refer more generally to any external expression, mmmkay?