There are times when I'm convinced that no one in the entire world procrastinates the way I do. It's like I'll KNOW how important it is to do something... to complete a task or to follow through on a project... but I'll have absolutely no inclination to do it. Then I'll find every excuse not to do it and will even become absorbed in the most mundane activities - it's ridiculous. And I'll always end up wondering why on earth couldn't I just get to it. I mean, I recognise the urgency and the need, but I just.can't.seem.to.get.there.
I'm not always like this though. There are times when I can forge ahead with such a force that the devil himself doesn't stand a chance. If only I could be like that all the time, and not only when I'm desperately wanting things to go my way.
Three months ago I enrolled in an Advanced TEFL (Teaching English to Foreign Learners) online program that cost a small fortune. And for days, weeks and months following my enrolment I just sat and looked at my screen quite vacantly. I'd read the first line, get bored and then go on Facebook instead. And when I got tired of that, I'd go and read everything on The Daily Mail - because even something as stupid as Victoria Beckham making her way through LAX was more interesting than Phonemes and Teaching Methodologies.
It reminded me of my second year at University more than a decade ago - when I spent a good deal of my time incarcerated in Linguistics and Literary Science, a pre-requisite pain-in-the-ass kinda class if there ever was one.
Sure there were modules that were interesting and I wouldn't have been able to have long semi-impressive conversations on Post-Modernism, Matisse and Dali, Impressionism, Rembrant's artistic style, brush strokes, abstract art and everything else in this world that is a whole lot of information on nothing.
But a large part of it was mind numbing and painful. It felt like my mind was being repeatedly assaulted and violated and there was nothing I could do about it. Staring at the seemingly endless list of modules on the Advanced TEFL course was very similar. I would have rather opted to have my eyeballs skewered while I was being skinned alive than read another excruciating page.
And so the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months. Then finally, last week it dawned on me that I had a deadline date looming after which my allocated time would expire and it would be all over. I wish I could say that this did it for me. But no.
It was actually my Mother. See, Mother kept on asking me about it and I kept on deferring. Then she went away and I missed her so much that I thought it would be awesome to surprise her when she came back. So I made up my mind to get it done and that's when I just sat down and did it... in less than 5 days. And every single HOUR, I had Beto Perez's words echoing in my mind:
"Just smile and do it"
I managed to shut out everything for some time and got it done. And then I wondered why on earth did it take me so long to get down to doing it. I would have been done ages ago and saved myself a lot of anxiety and stress. Anyways, my aggregate is 78% which ironically, I'm disappointed about because I know I could have gotten 90% at least. But it's done and I can breathe again without feeling the weight of Kilimanjaro on my shoulders.
It got me thinking about the reason I procrastinate so much. Perhaps it's my fear of failure... or even more so... my fear of success that prevents me from getting it done. Because when we succeed, we push ourselves beyond our own physical, emotional and psychological limits into uncharted territories. And uncertainty has always been a breeding ground for fear. The trick is to find the courage to succeed and trusting that we'll be fine along the way.
For some reason it seems that lately, there are more and more things where I'm forced to just smile and do it. It's not a pleasant place to be. But at least some things are getting done.