From a young age, my family members have always emphasized the importance of being punctual. My mother would always rush us out the house 30 minutes or even an hour most days before she would have to be at work. We lived seven minutes away.
Going to school earlier than the other kids, I was one of the first students sitting in the gym as we waited to be dismissed to go to class. It was awkward. As I got older, I learned to give myself a little cushion and honor the five-minutes-till rule. I used this everywhere from my first job at a restaurant to turning in a college paper at 11:50-something, as long as it was before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
The practice got so comfortable, I started doing my papers the day of and would still get an A. The A stood for “A-wake for 24 hours straight to cite articles, skim through, and get the important pieces to do this paper.” I felt like it became my thing that I would forever embrace as just my way of getting things done.
But then it started to seep into other parts of my life that took numerous meaningful reflections to realize.
As I started to get involved in more clubs and activities, my procrastination became a deadly addiction. And I frequently found myself absolutely overwhelmed. I would try to do things early on and find myself saying numerous times that I either “don’t feel like doing it” or would fall into the comfy cushion of “later.”
Don’t get me wrong, taking time away from work is important. However, at what point does procrastination get in the way of self care?
The point that lies between “almost and never.” I soon realized the anxiety of what’s to come and repeating the same mistakes again was a driver to my procrastinative ways. (Let’s just pretend that I knew “procrastinative” was a word.)
I began to procrastinate on my goals. So they ended up growing farther and farther out of reach, or at least that’s what my brain wanted me to believe. I soon started to feel the effects of procrastination on my mental, physical, and spiritual health. And honestly, my overall wellbeing goals (i.e. desire for fitness, making appointments, reading) began to fall into the persona of “someday.”
“Someday” would often miss its flight because of turbulent fear and self-sabotaging delays.
I would visualize the feeling of seeing that “someday” and would fall into a “fear spiral,” thus beginning the procrastinative behaviors.
As crappy as my body currently feels as I most definitely have not been to the gym in X amount of days (and yes I lost count), have not made appointments, and am currently sitting here with scattered papers on my desk and several pieces of missing documentation (of a job in my field…did I really let myself get THAT bad for that long?), a part of me sees the hint of beauty the size of a mustard seed in this universally toxic habit
And that, as ironic as it is, is the essence of time and patience.
I contribute this theory to the “butterfly effect,” which is a theory that refers to a small change with a massive effect. It was once said that when a butterfly moves its wings, it can cause a cyclone in another part of the world.
I have seen a few movies in the past few years which detailed the butterfly effect, such as “Mr. Nobody,””Donnie Darko,” and of course “Butterfly Effect.”.
Who says the butterfly has to be constantly in flight to make a change? Didn’t it make a change when it decided to stay in its cocoon for a while until it grew out?
And there it is. The strength in procrastination lies not in the action, but one’s view on it.
My procrastination taught me the value of decision-making and prioritizing. And it took years of stagnancy and distraction to see that. How I wish I would have realized it earlier. However, that would only take away from the wisdom I have grown into now.
In this life, I would say that we all have regrets, but I can only speak for myself. I have lost many opportunities due to my procrastination, such as jobs, relationships, connections, events. At the same time, I learned the value of immediacy and how I can use it in the areas I do want to grow in, such as personal wellness.
As I sit here and write this, a sense of content comes over me as I feel that I am making that small effort and getting back into writing, which is something I really like doing. Now do I have a mountain of other things to tend to? Yes, I do.
However, one of the many doors I have created and compartmentalized for the different parts of my life I need to work on has creaked open.
And that is the blessing of the insight that comes with procrastination.
**Results may vary.
Photo by Arina Krasnikova