It seemed like a simple enough assignment. I was to write a one page cover letter for my Comparative Literature class by Tuesday morning. Yet, it was also somehow 11 pm, Monday evening, after hours of staring at the computer screen, and still not a word was written. My mind felt bloated by all the uselessness it had consumed. It seemed to me that the blank Word document was peering back into me, judging my incompetence, my weakness. It asked the same question that I kept returning to myself, “Why wasn’t I motivated to do this earlier? And what can I do about it?” But of course, by then, it was too late for those questions. It was too late to think about much at all, especially the unfinished paper sitting in front of me.
Procrastination is so restless. For me, it stems from wanting to do too much, not less. I am constantly focused on four things at once, each one more important than the last. Sometimes it feels like I am listening to multiple songs at once. All the rhythms and melodies clash, but I can’t bear to turn them off either because I don’t know when I’ll find the time to listen more carefully. Sometimes, I wish that we could have an infinite amount of time. There would be no more urgency or worry about upcoming deadlines. Most importantly, there would be no such thing as procrastination because there would be no such thing as wasted time or time at all for that matter. The tendency for delaying one task in favor of the other is a misplaced hope that we might stretch time itself to suit our desires. It is the belief that we can do everything and ignore limitations. When the night finally hits, it is a return to a disappointing reality that solemnly points out that we are simply mortal after all.
Yet, it always seems that, it would be equally disappointing not to procrastinate. A singular focus on only one task is dreadfully boring as if out of all the winding roads, one always chose the one that led straight. It is living a life dictated by the markings of a personal planner and only doing things when they are scheduled. It is not entirely our fault when things work this way. University life especially is structured around constant, unavoidable deadlines. It is too easy to live deadline to deadline and lose track of what matters. I don’t want my entire college experience to be dictated by when my essays are due. But it is also impossible to pretend that they don’t exist. Procrastination doesn’t seem to be solution to this either. The last hour before a due date is anything but relaxing. It is all an attempt to find balance between what you want and what others want of you.
Of course, I got the paper done in the end. Typing frantically without a thought for meaning or connection will typically achieve that goal. After clicking “Submit”, there was no question about what I had to do next. I opened YouTube and started watching another video.