Procrastination had followed me to London. An old, stubborn enemy, Procrastination is always there when the sun starts setting and the coffee starts brewing and the heart starts feeling nervous for the long night’s work ahead.
While I try to type my essays, Procrastination winks and innocently pulls out its writers’ block handcuffs. Procrastination sits next to me as I sip too-hot tea and burn my tongue. Procrastination whispers, “Why don’t you ever learn to start earlier?”
Procrastination provides me a push forwards of energy, a pull backwards of self-esteem, and an annual New Year’s resolution. Procrastination has the power to speed up seconds, or stop time. Procrastination checks email, Facebook, Twitter, all my favorite newspapers, a friend’s blog, anoth- er friend’s blog, Beyoncé’s VEVO, a list of inspirational quotes, pictures from high school, my phone. Procrastination turns my phone off to avoid communication, then realizes I should be a good daughter and call my parents to say hello. Procrastination encourages me to write a to-do list, which is always, absolutely the most productive task anyone can do. Procrastination worries that my eyes will be damaged by staring at a computer screen for too long, or that my feet are falling asleep, so I stand up to stretch.
Procrastination reminds me, gently, that I have a different essay due before this essay is due, so it’s extremely forward-thinking to brainstorm a few minutes. I have to go to the bathroom, and all of a sudden I worry that I’ve misplaced my prox. I search my backpack. Prox located. Brainstorm time.
Procrastination believes my dorm room is a soporific place – the light bulb sometimes flickers, pajamas are near, a bed is nearer. Procrastination encourages me to head to the library.
Procrastination loves the library. Procrastination enjoys the quiet; silence is often a louder distraction than noise itself. My thoughts drift even further when I sit alone at a table; no one can hold me accountable except myself. Procrastination nudges me with nostalgia. I miss my family and look at photos from home. An hour passes as quickly as coffee can spill and I look at the clock and hate myself for having wasted even more time and wonder why it’s just so hard to focus tonight.
I set an alarm: introduction written in ten minutes, or else.
Procrastination might seem prideful sitting in its throne encrusted with the jewels of our worried minds, but is, in fact, self-conscious. Procrastination realizes it is bad at making friends.
Procrastination means well and does, indeed, want me to finish my work. The question is how. Procrastination believes I can get it done so strongly that Procrastination gifts me the weeks leading up to a deadline in exchange for the hours and minutes leading up to 11:59pm.
It is too easy to say thatt Procrastination is a bad friend or damaging travel partner. I truly believed in my ability to separate myself from Procrastination while studying abroad by allowing myself the time and space and brain space to focus on my academics. (I always forget that Procrastination can read my mind.) As a reminder, Procrastination sent me a postcard from London to read when I returned to Princeton:
You don’t like me, but you might miss me. Be back soon, around midterms. Just remember that even though many look down on my activities, I enabled most of your cherished memories while studying abroad: temporarily forgetting about an essay because a friend offered you a spare seat to “The Scottsboro Boys,” ignoring Junior Paper research a few hours because the British Museum is open late, emptying your mind of final exams and filling it instead with the magic of stargazing from the London Bridge. I bet you don’t feel much regret. Good luck starting classes.
Sometimes Procrastination is worth defending. Procrastination is at your side when you buy tickets to friends’ performances or when you happily refill a plate at dinner just to lengthen the conversation. Procrastination might embolden your caffeine addiction or lessen the hours you sleep leading up to an exam, but Procrastination wants you to remember that completing one’s work is not an epic battle: feeling frustrated with oneself is the opposite of what Procrastination wishes for you. Procrastination believes in you more and more as the hours pass. Procrastination gives a nudge— just focus, you can do this.