A Procrastinator’s Guide From A to Z
“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
― Albert Camus
When I picked my topic for the A to Z Challenge, I wanted a topic that I understood. Intimately. I wanted to help other procrastinators know that they are NOT alone. I wanted to help non-procrastinators understand some of the mentality behind the procrastinator’s actions.
I think most people associate procrastination with the act of avoiding tasks that need to be accomplished. They see procrastinators doing tasks out of order. They see them put off important tasks until the last possible moment. It is assumed that the procrastinator is simply foolish or lazy. Or both! Outsiders suggest better time-management skills. Perhaps a new schedule will “fix” the procrastinator? Perhaps punishment should be enforced? Mend your ways or there will be consequences! Or…perhaps the reverse will cure the procrastinator of their naughty ways! If you get all of your tasks done on time, you will be rewarded with this treat, like an obedient puppy. Woof!
The trouble is, most procrastinator don’t WANT to procrastinate. They don’t like their feelings of guilt, and shame, and self-doubt. In fact, most procrastinators waste a great deal of energy worrying over their behavior. They don’t want to feel like they are broken vessels. They just want to be normal, like everyone else.
Imagine a tetrahedron, a triangular pyramid, with three visible faces and a triangular base.
When seen dead on, only one face of the triangular figure is clearly visible. Let’s call this face Procrastination. Depression and Perfectionism make up the other two visible faces of this pyramid. Fear is its base. You can try to bust down one wall of this pyramid with time-management skills and chore charts, but you’ll only knock it over, exposing the face of Fear. Depression, Perfectionism, or Procrastination may no longer be visible, but they’re still there. You can roll the pyramid like a four-sided dice, but you can’t destroy a tetrahedron with punishments or presents. You can try using different devices to coax the procrastinator into conformity, and they might work—temporarily. But once the dice is rolled again, you’ll have to try something else.
Procrastinators want to be normal. Right or wrong, they equate normal with happy. And who doesn’t want to be happy? We could all use a little more happiness in our lives, right? So, they try new tricks, new ideas, hoping they’ll find something, ANYTHING, that will make them feel like they are normal, like everyone else. To a procrastinator, normal and happy are the SAME thing, practically interchangeable words. Do you see the problem with this logic? Did you catch that?
Are “normal” people happy? Are they happy all the time? Are they happier than “other” people? Is there a scale of happiness out there, one that measures happiness in relationship to normality? And what if you’re excessively happy? How normal is that? How much happiness should you have in order to possess the “right amount” of happiness?
Procrastinators just assume that “normal” people are happier than they are.
Normal Childhood=Happy Childhood
Normal Home Life=Happy Home Life
It never occurs to them that “normal” is relative to one’s surroundings and conditions. One person’s “normal” could be another person’s NIGHTMARE! Based on my observations, Happiness and Normality usually ride different buses. They seldom sit together. Sometimes they hang out with each other, but not necessarily everyday.
If chore charts could banish the underlying fears of not being good enough or smart enough, we’d all use them and procrastinators would be cured! If better organization and time-management skills could stop perfectionism and the dizzying cycle of all or nothing—do it perfectly or not at all—I would gladly learn these skills! I have PLENTY of books on the subject, from the wisdom of Marie Kondo to the teachings of Martha Stewart. If I thought I could glean enough information from an organizational guru, to read-myself-better, I would! If there was a magical way to make me feel like I was normal, I’d grab it.
I didn’t always understand the differences between feeling normal and being happy. I’m better than I was, but my journey is FAR from complete. Self-knowledge has helped me, but my “normal” consists of reoccurring battles with depression. “Normal” is dealing with aging body parts that don’t always cooperate. I’ve been feeling good the last few weeks, sooo much happier than I’ve felt in a long time, even with the aches and pains. Mentally, I’m in a good place. A joyful place! Is this normal? For me…no, but happiness is a state of mind. It is not guaranteed.
Normal is relative and COMPLETELY overrated. If I’m in an area where EVERYONE is sad, then sadness is the “norm” for this group. Why would anyone want that? Normal and happiness are NOT opposite sides of a coin. They are totally different things.
I wish you happiness, wherever you are RIGHT NOW, in your life. xo Juli