Here is some advice: Your procrastination is not your friend. And it is horrible for your anxiety. Trust me, I’ve been burned. I have been to the place where all those ‘tomorrows’ you think never come finally call a meeting, decide to #resist, and lie in wait to ambush you. I barely made it out alive, guys. Let us agree that this is the reason there have been no posts for the past month. It has nothing to do with the fact that I was considering shutting down this blog because I didn’t know whether I enjoyed it anymore or not. Okay? Okay.
I was an organized child, you know this already. I make a point of reminding myself (and anyone who will listen, which is you guys and my five friends) of the height from which I have fallen. Right now, that organized child is shaking her head thinking, ‘Surely, Michelle, are you not better than this?’ The condescending brat thought she knew everything, she had her whole life planned, down to the minute. Boy, is she in for a surprise. I apologise, 11-year-old Michelle, for letting you down. I no longer live life governed by a detailed timetable and a non-negotiable to-do list. I no longer read three books a week. Also, you know how you think you are going to study medicine and become a neurosurgeon? Best that you don’t get too attached to that dream. You will drop it the second you see a broken bone for the first time and you will confirm that you made the right choice when you discover that kumbe Ben Carson lied. I shall maybe write you a letter on my (our?) birthday which is coming up in a few weeks.
The rest of you guys leave me alone. I am adult now, which means I am allowed to write letters to my past self, dispensing wisdom and wallowing in nostalgia and all that.
The stark contrast between me and Past Michelle in terms of how together our two lives are means that my glory days may well be behind me, as my brother so graciously informed me recently. It is the plight of the good child. Have you ever read that book Why ‘A’ Students Work for ‘C’ Students? Neither have I. But I imagine there is sense in there because I was an A student and so far that hasn’t gone quite as well for me as I had hoped. Apparently, being good in school does not help you be good at life. Who knew? And where is the peddler of this lie about grades opening doors, because I need answers. Anyway, that book is one of the kinds of books I generally avoid but this one I will give a chance if one of you decides to practice book-buying as a love language.
So here is the thing, procrastination is the friend that tells you how great you are and how much time you have and how capable you are…but is secretly colluding with the devil and your enemies to jump you one lonely night as you skip through life without a care in the world. You know the bible story about the stoning of Stephen? And how Saul, later to become Paul, was watching from a distance, holding the stoners’ (I know, and that’s not what I mean, shame on you) cloaks, smiling the wicked smile of the righteous, and thanking Yahweh that no blood would stain his designer robes? Procrastination is Saul, and your many deadlines and responsibilities are the Pharisees and random village people who passed time those days by engaging in mob justice. Obviously, you are Stephen, only he didn’t deserve what he got while you totally do. Your deadlines, they will pummel you and you leave you for dead.
And here is the worst part. Unlike Stephen, as the end draws nigh, heaven will not open up and give you a glimpse of Jesus at the right hand of God. No. After your stoning (again, not what I mean), you will be left there, exhausted, faced only with the reality that you did that to yourself. You will believe that you need to rest on a sunny beach somewhere for like three months, that you need to wipe your slate clean, that you need to get a life coach because you clearly don’t know what you are doing, and that you need to start a new life in a town where nobody knows you and your past indiscretions. In that order. And you will still have to wake up at 6 am the next day because the world does not give one damn that you need time to pick up the pieces of your life. Jesus and God and Stephen will not open up heaven for you. They will be wondering what the hell is wrong with you because you knew that this would happen but you still decided to offer up your soul to the spirits of procrastination.
So that’s where I have been. Rock-bottom. It doesn’t really matter that there were extenuating circumstances that speeded up my journey to the end. It doesn’t matter that my quarter-life crisis gave my procrastination an unfair advantage over me. It doesn’t matter that I did my very best to avoid getting there, to the corner where all my ‘tomorrows’ jumped me. None of that matters. What matters is that I got there, I learnt the lesson and I have spent the last three weeks picking up the pieces of my life. I am now a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come. I had to make drastic changes so that I could feel like I had regained some control.
Guys, so extensive are the changes I have made in my life that I am all set to join a gym. Me. In a gym. I know, even I can barely picture it. My siblings already told me that I will fail miserably and waste that money. My brother said to give him that money to invest because that way at least it would have been useful. My sister said that joining a gym might somehow make me even more unfit. Siblings are great, right? So good for your self-esteem. But I am adamant that I will join this gym because nothing else so far has worked. I have jogged on and off for the past two years. The longest I have stuck to it is 9 days. I have tried skipping (3 days), using videos to work out at home (half a session), and fitness apps (1 week). All that these attempts have succeeded in is letting me know that I hate running and that I lack the discipline to work out on my own. So gym it is. Maybe knowing that there is money involved will help me stick to it because it’s not like money is something I have an abundance of. I shall keep you updated on my progress if I am successful. If I drop out in a week or two, we shall never speak of this again. You may find that I have even deleted this post. Nobody needs that kind of negativity in their life.
Oh, another major change, even bigger than the gym thing. I no longer have The Chair. You know, the chair in your room that has more clothes on it than your wardrobe has in it. Clean clothes that haven’t been folded and put away ever since they were washed last week, clothes that have been worn once but haven’t been put back in the wardrobe, clothes that you tried on but changed your mind about and didn’t wear, clothes whose status as either clean or dirty has not been decided yet, clothes that belong to your sister and you have no idea how they even got there because your sister has been in boarding school for two months and her clothes no longer even fit you (which is why you started going to the gym in the first place)…
I no longer have that chair. In my long, very long, search into how to stop procrastinating and get your life together, I found two basic rules that have worked so far. The first one is Do it Now. Put it away now. You won’t do it later, so just do it now. And yes, after a lifetime of throwing everything on that chair, this was a super difficult habit to break. But my room has, for the first time since 11-year-old Michelle, been tidy for two weeks straight and if I die tomorrow, I can count this as one of my life achievements. The second rule is to write everything down. We shall not talk about this just yet because I am still working on it. There are small victories, for example, writing down that I needed to write a blog post for today is the only reason there is a post. But I still hold on to that lie of the enemy: ‘I will remember that’. I never do. You would think that I would remember the most important and urgent things. But no. I am too far gone for that. Apparently, words like ‘priority’ and ‘deadline’ don’t mean as much to me as the people using them would hope. You would also think that because I am a writer with like 20 notebooks and at least 3 in my bag at all times, I would have no trouble learning to write everything down. Again you would be wrong.
There is a very high chance that like most sweeping declarations of change, these ones may fail. I am a pessimist by nature, so I am well-prepared emotionally for that to happen. But I like that hopefulness that keeps people constantly trying to get their lives together. It’s…wholesome. And that just has to be enough.
Besides, it hasn’t been all bad. There have been some pretty great opportunities this last month, some moments of clarity, a whole lot of learning. Those are important things, I’m thankful. I’m probably not going to have my life in order because I learnt to fold clothes immediately I unhung them. But it’s a huge step. All I need now is for someone to show me a great (and pretty because anything resembling a notebook has to be pretty otherwise it’s no good) planner that I can buy because the digital calendar thing is not working for me.
Other than that, I am all set to turn this blog into a niche blog about being organized. Okay, maybe not, but listen to me. Your procrastination is not your friend. No matter how many funny webcomics you read about it. The tomorrows are coming, and they are angry. You have been warned.