Let me paint you a picture. The setting: Odegaard Undergraduate Library on no particular day in the middle of no particular quarter. It is 1 a.m., and the tables and chairs are barely half full. Half of the computer screens show video games instead of Canvas. In the corner, there is a girl just starting a five-page essay due 12 hours from that very moment. I am that girl.
I don’t know exactly what sparked my journey toward becoming a procrastinator. I was raised by a mom who was never late to anything and accomplished things days in advance. Throughout elementary school she made sure all of my homework was done by an appropriate time, monitoring me so I was always on her terms.
I could argue that my procrastination is genetic and it just happened to kick in when I was given the space to work on my own time. My mom always tells me the story about how she almost broke up with my dad in college. He went to a basketball game instead of hanging out with her and instead of writing an essay due the next morning. This sounds eerily similar to something I would do now.
Where the roots of my procrastination stem from, though, doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I am a true and proud procrastinator by nature and I never will regret it.
My earliest memory of procrastinating comes from the hellish year of sixth grade, my first year of middle school. I remember staying up until the late hour of 9 p.m. to finish drawing a map for homework my teacher assigned. I had started drawing just two hours prior, and the rush of relief I felt after completing the assignment was undeniable.
This was a pivotal moment in my academic career. I realized that I could accomplish things at the last minute under pressure and that it gave me more motivation to work.
I used this to my advantage far too often in high school. I distinctly remember gluing a poster together in the wee hours of the morning when my dad walked into my room. He interrupted my work to say goodbye to me; a moment when he was off to work and I was just finishing mine. Another time, I stayed up until 3 a.m. planning an essay outline and then writing the essay, all before going to school a little less than five hours later.
There is a certain inexplicable rush of pressure provided by procrastination that is like no other feeling. Getting your work done at the very last minute rides a multitude of very fine lines including but not limited to: success and failure, sleep and no sleep, and an “A” and an “F.” This pressure is the driving force behind most assignments I have completed since the sixth grade.
I will never regret procrastination, even if it means falling on the unfortunate side of any of these fine lines at one time or another. The ticking clock, the late night snacks feeding my flurry of work, and even the freezing cold (but triumphant) walks back to my dorm after finishing a lengthy assignment hours before it is due are all motivation in my eyes.
My work ethic is terrible, and I highly advise against replicating it. I don’t work well when there is nothing promised to me at the end of an assignment. A good grade isn’t enough. However, the relief that I feel after completing an essay, a project, anything at the last minute is what will do it.
Reach writer Rachel Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rclmorgan