When Procrastination Can Be a Real Problem
You think you’re a bad procrastinator. You haven’t met me yet! I’m pretty sure I have you all beat in the procrastination department, for while many people find ways to procrastinate at certain aspects of their life and work – for example, they might wait too long to do an assignment, write a paper, or write up their taxes – I did something far worse.
I procrastinated at life itself.
What do I mean with that? I mean that I was waiting for something, I was hoping for something to happen. And while it didn’t happen, I chose to ignore all the other options available. They weren’t good enough. I was waiting for my golden ticket and I couldn’t very well choose those other options that life kept throwing on my path, just in case they’d keep me from missing that golden opportunity when it did come along.
It’s a bit like that joke about the deeply religious man who had a ship crash and was in the ocean. He’s paddling along when along comes a boat. The captain yells, ‘climb aboard!’ The religious man yells back, ‘no, no, god will save me.’ Nonplussed the captain shrugs and sails off. Along comes a water plane. ‘Climb aboard!’ they yell to him. ‘No, no, god will save me.’ Says the man. The pilot shrugs and flies off.
Finally, there is a helicopter. They throw down a rope and yell, ‘Grab hold, we’ll pull you up!’ ‘No, no, the man says again, ‘god will save me.’ The helicopter leaves and the man have left in the water. No more people come and eventually he drowns. He arrives in heaven and meets god.
‘Why didn’t you save me?’ he asks. ‘What do you mean?’ God asks, ‘I sent a boat, a plane, and a helicopter!’
What was I waiting for?
I don’t know. It was something. And I knew I didn’t have it because I was deeply unhappy and certain that something was missing from my life. I could just work at home more than at the office. Every day I went through the motions of living, but it all felt like a sham – because I was meant for better things than this. Life owed me more than this. Other people, less smart, less attractive, less gifted, were doing better than I was. So where was my opportunity?
I really thought that. Crazy, no? Because what I realize now, without a doubt is that I was the stupid one. I was the ugly one. I was the one squandering whatever gift I did have because I wasn’t actually doing anything with it.
The world doesn’t owe you anything
I think my biggest problem, for the longest time, was the sense of entitlement that I had. And because I felt entitled, because I felt the world owed me something, I didn’t actually go out there and take anything. I didn’t take my chances, I didn’t take up the opportunities that came along, and I didn’t take the time to try my hardest to make more of what I had been given.
I think a lot of western people have that problem now. It’s not yet so bad in other countries. There they still don’t feel that they’re owed anything and for that reason area willing to try hard and put in the effort that they need to to get ahead. It doesn’t seem to work that way for many kids born in the west, however.
They somehow get the idea from the world around them that they are special. And that feeling of specialness makes them assume that they’ll be treated in some special way. Then, when that doesn’t happen, because we’re only as special as we make ourselves, they get angry, frustrated, and envious of those who do manage to get ahead. Even though often those people do so only through their willingness to roll up their sleeves and try (and fail).
The realization set in
Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t special and that the world didn’t owe me anything. It sunk me into a deep depression. How could it not? It struck down the foundation of my mental structure and made me realize that I’d built my whole existence out of air castles.
The truth is, it took me several years to rebuild myself after that. Only after I’d done that could I really start embracing the opportunities that life was willing to throw my way? I grew wiser, I started to work harder, to do a more writing and I decided to make something of myself (rather than assume I was something already).
Now I’m doing okay. And obviously I wouldn’t take any of it back because we’re the sum of our experiences, and therefore if I did change anything, then I’d change who I am, what I’ve learned and where I’ve ended up. I wouldn’t want to do that because today I’m happy with who I am. But still, I do hope others don’t have to go through that same ordeal.
Solving the Procrastination problem
Don’t fall into the same trap I did. Don’t wait for the world to show you the way. That’s a real procrastination problem. That’s not how it works. You have to find your own way. You have to roll up your sleeves, put in the time and learn the skills. You have to go out and search for the opportunities.
And you should never assume that something better will simply come along. It might. It might not. It doesn’t matter. Take what you’ve got until it does or doesn’t. Life isn’t about waiting. It’s about living. We’d all do a lot better if we managed to remember that a little more often.
Malia Keirsey is a passionate blogger and web designer. She has finished the University of Chicago with the master’s degree in Sociology and started her career as a novice writer.
You can follow her on Twitter.
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