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This girl’s name is Claire, and this is her story. She’s wanted to tell you this story already for about a month. Why is she doing so only now? She kept putting it off till the last possible moment. And this is exactly the problem she wanted to talk to you about. Claire’s sure that most of you can relate to it: she’s a professional procrastinator, which basically means she can’t make herself do things when she needs to.
Claire is very clever – there’s hardly a single topic at school that she can’t get to grips with. But her grades are awful. Her problems first started in middle school. She had a lot of homework, and neither her parents nor teachers supervised her in the same way they had in elementary school. All they got was a deadline, and bitter punishment for those who didn’t meet it. The rules were clear, and Claire started at the school all decisive and positive. But she soon noticed that her enthusiasm was fading rapidly. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her studies. The fact was that when she was given homework to do, she couldn’t manage to make herself even start to work on it.
For example, she once had to write an essay. She sat down at her desk and took a pen and a piece of paper. She told herself decisively, “Ok, let’s go!” She wrote one phrase and started thinking what to write next. In search of inspiration, Claire decided to check her social news feed. Then she watched a video. Then another one. Meanwhile, time was actually vanishing, and then all of a sudden, she found herself in front of a blank piece of paper half an hour before bedtime.
This doesn’t mean that she can’t concentrate! In that half an hour, she wrote an enormous essay in an absolutely hectic manner, at breathtaking speed and without even re-reading what she wrote. Her teachers were sometimes shocked by the stupid errors she made in her assignments. Of course, this was because she never had time to check and edit them! On the other hand, she had her mom, who was constantly nagging her: “How can you spend the whole evening on a simple essay?”
And this was true for all her subjects. She spent whole evenings doing nothing, and then practised speed scribbling in order to meet the deadline. She was so ashamed of herself and started getting nervous every single time she thought about her latest piece of homework. It was some kind of an emotional block she just failed to get past every time.
Time passed, and the situation didn’t improve. Her workload grew, and she couldn’t handle all the homework. She started missing deadlines more and more often. And as she moved on to high school Claire’s marks became even worse. All this was growing like a giant snowball that was about to take her over the edge, when she would suffer a nervous breakdown. Isn’t it stupid that she had all these problems all because of a strange feeling of numbness in front of a blank piece of paper? She tried to get help from her parents, but as they were both well-organized people they just didn’t understand her problem. No one had the time to sit with her and to control her while she was doing her homework.
The situation would surely come to a head – and one day, it did just that. Once she had to write a huge thesis. It was part of a project that she was supposed to prepare over the course of a whole year – by using the library and carrying out her own research. She put together a plan for the whole thing, but then – inevitably – she ignored it right from the start. First, she consoled herself with the idea that she still had a whole year ahead of her to do it. Then – half a year would surely be enough! She was getting anxious, but her brain insisted that three months were more than enough. When she passed the one-month mark and zero lines had been written, she understood that this was the point of no return – she simply had to get down to work.
But the very same day, when she was supposed to finally start writing something, she ended up breaking her right arm! Can you imagine? The universe decided to punish her! All in a panic, Claire started typing her thesis with her left hand. She went to the library and tried to hold the books and write simultaneously… It was pathetic. Everyone in her class was already polishing their thesis and she was only five or six pages into it! There was no way that she could finish her thesis by the deadline. She had to go see her tutor and tell her that nothing was ready. She said: “Well, you could bring what you have written during the year, we will accept it”.
Claire was forced to reveal to her tutor that she was a procrastinator, and it had already become a pathological problem for her. She’s now learned her lesson. She still hasn’t stopped procrastinating, but she’s at least now seen what happens when she lets it get out of control, and now she’s trying to learn how to manage her time.
Music by Epidemic Sound: https://www.epidemicsound.com