Growing up, I was always told not to wait to the last minute. Procrastination was a sign of laziness or not planning properly — both of which were not allowed. I’ve always been good about meeting deadlines and even working on drafts and getting thing in early. If I wasn’t ahead of schedule, that meant I was behind.
As I’ve gotten older and my schedule less deadline-driven, I’ve had a harder time always staying on task. I find myself putting off the most unpleasant tasks — tasks that aren’t necessary hard or time-consuming, but mostly just emotionally draining. And that draining often comes from fear of failing. Whether it’s emailing a committee member or turning in a draft of a book review, that persistent, nagging fear of rejection continues to haunt me. There was actually a point in my life where my heart started pounding and a pit began developing in my stomach just opening my email. Because, let’s face it, no good news comes through email.
If anyone has advice about overcoming fear / handling procrastinating tendencies, I’d be very appreciative. One valuable piece of wisdom that helps me: you’ll spend more time worrying about the task then it’ll take to actually complete it. The crazy thing is that sometimes, even after I’ve completed the task, I’ll still find myself worrying about doing it. That’s the worse…
One of the greatest things about grad school is that everyday you get a little bit closer to learning who you really are. You get closer to the truth of what you like, what your habits are, what you lack, and what you need to improve on. It’s a long-term growth period during which you’re aware that you are developing not just your brain, but your personality and your values. It happens at a critical time right after college (or soon after, in my case), which is important because I think that too often people think that college is your time to grow and explore, when really it’s just the beginning of the ripening. There’s so much more development and personal blossoming that still needs to happen, and I doubt that you’ll have much success unfurling in a 9-5 job in a corporate system.
And maybe that’s the real problem. That there’s a major period of growth in college that’s not followed up by further growth, but that’s then shaped into whatever society perceived its needs to be. And by society, of course, I mean the corporate structure that governs this U.S. situation that I’ve been growing up in. I’m grateful that I’ve never really contributed through work to the corporate structure. I’ve spent the majority of my time working for non-profits, not-for-profits (there is a difference!), universities, and museums.
Yes, I might have trouble motivating myself to write sometimes or second-guessing my decisions to go to grad school (who hasn’t?!?), but in the end, no matter what happens, PhD in hand or not, I am truly grateful for having this time and provocation to think, write, read, and grow.