Jim Gaffigan said it best: “You ever have so much to do, you just decide to take a nap?”
I’m a procrastinator. I’m not proud of that fact, but that’s the way it is right now. A lot of school work gets done at the last minute. Some people who do this brag about their condition, like it’s a huge accomplishment. “Let’s see, I can bench press three hundred pounds, I know the make and model of every airplane at Heathrow by sight, and I once turned in a paper that was due at midnight at 11:59.”
No. That’s not how this works. Procrastination is not a bragging right.
This week, I have several papers due. Off the top of my head, I can think of four. How many do I have done? One. Although, I have at least begun writing a portion of all the papers that are due. That may not seem like an accomplishment, but for me it certainly is.
On top of this, I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. I am supposed to be a little over 16,000 words at this point, but in actuality I am barely hitting five grand. In honesty, the novel has taken a back burner position to school work (as it should), but I am optimistic that given a day of free time, I could catch up. That seems improbable, but I am actually really excited about this story. In faith, with God’s grace, I will catch up. (“Then why are you writing a blog post?” “Well, I felt compelled to. I don’t write enough of these anyway.”)
Why do we ever start procrastinating? It’s not as though it’s hereditary. My parents aren’t procrastinators. They get the job done. Is it culture? Perhaps. There does seem to be a pervasive laziness that has swept over the churning, violent storm we call America. But I can’t place the entirety of the blame on culture, or even the majority.
The problem is inner.
The inside of me boils with passion to pursue this or that… Novel writing, drawing, deepening my knowledge of theology, foreign languages, creative technique, mode of expression, etc. Lately, I’ve even been developing ideas for video shorts (never had an interest before). Yet the production of my being would hardly lead one to believe I had a passing fancy in any of these pursuits.
The human condition is such that there are two people to think about when observing the life of one: the person as (s)he actually is, and the person that others think (s)he actually is.
Really, there is an inner being known only to the self and to the Creator, and an outer being projected so that others only see parts. Why is that? Honestly, I think there is a level of self-deprecation in all of us. We wouldn’t dare reveal our true selves to the world, so we give off a persona of who we want to be. Here is a reflection exercise: Don’t think about what you think about yourself. Think about what you think others think about you. This helps remove the bias that we have on what we hate most about our own lives and causes us to reflect on the persona we exude.
I tend to ramble. What is the point of all this?
Here is what I think others think about me: They see a wild-haired guy, who is good for a laugh on occasion, who genuinely cares about people, and is either really quiet or really loud. They don’t see a guy with passion for much of anything, save perhaps a favorite movie, or the basic needs of food and sleep.
Maybe I’m wrong about this. I probably am in one area or another. But the big problem I see in me is this: lack of active passion. Oh, there’s plenty inside of me building up, believe you me. The trouble starts when converting the inner passions to an outer reality. That cursed devil known as Procrastination rears his ugly head and begins gnawing on my limbs. Why is it that I do not do what I want to do?
I don’t have an answer for that. I just don’t know.
Oddly enough, however, I’m okay with not knowing. I don’t need an answer to do something about it. Here’s what I want to think people think of me: He is passionate. He truly loves what he does.
I need to switch procrastination for passion. It’s good that they both start with “p,” so that my alphabet of qualities will be hardly disturbed.
This condition of mine is not new. It’s been around since days of old. Hear the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.”(ESV) Here Paul was referring to sin, of which I could talk as well, but I think his wonderings apply here just as soundly. Paul had no answer to why he did things against his will. However, he trusted that God would take care of his life. I cannot tell what he thought others thought of him, but I can tell you what others actually think of him. Today, he is one of the most favored biblical icons of all time (in my experience, I would wager he takes second place only to Jesus Himself).
I do believe that I will finally be rid of the grip of procrastination. Even now, there is progress. I will become a man of passion.
And so we go…