I have a problem with waiting. Not because I have to do it (sometimes a girl’s got to do what girl’s got to do) but because I do it even when I don’t need to.
As I write this, I am at an airport, surrounded by wait at every turn. It starts at the self-kiosks where you print out your tickets, then moves to the wrap-around lines at the TSA checkpoint where your shoes magically become weapons of mass destruction.
When the airline opens the plane for boarding, look out! Lines three, four, even five-people deep will form out of nowhere as people try to cram their way ahead of each other, conveniently forgetting that they have nothing to worry about because they have an assigned seat waiting for them. Instead, common decency is lost by people who somehow believe their acts of frustration, the pushing and shoving, will somehow propel the plane to their destination faster.
The trouble is whether we are at an airport or living our everyday lives at home, we are either in rush, rush, rush mode or we are waiting.
No one likes to be a waiter.
Taxes, term papers, work projects. I can’t think of anyone who gets the warm tingles about any of these things. Why? Because no one loves a deadline.
The word itself says it all. A line in the sand is drawn and you choose whether to meet it or to fall dead flat on your face when you don’t.
Faced with that sort of pressure, most anyone would get anxious, at least uncomfortable. This is where procrastination can be a beautiful thing. After all, why worry over a long period of time when you could worry in half that?
Of course, there is good and bad to being a procrastinator. By giving yourself so little time, you do not get a chance to really review or edit your work. Is your work worse for the wear, less accurate or thoughtful? Then again, you may feel that working at the last minute gives you the focus and energy you need to get the job done. Is your work actually better, more spontaneous and creative?
Procrastinators thrive on the fight-or-flight response, an adrenaline boost that kicks in as those targets draw closer and closer. It is our inner caveman reaction to fear, our instinct for survival in a time of stress. It is natural for us to avoid what we don’t like or to run from failure. But is it healthy to condition ourselves to deal with our problems by causing even more stress?
These days I procrastinate far too often but really only when it comes to doing things for myself.
Sorry, dear novel. Can you ever forgive me?
People who save-it-for-later are waiters with a whole other agenda in play. They are not about fight-or-flight at all. In fact, for them, it is quite the opposite.
They focus not on avoidance and fear but on hope and glory. They save things to use at a later time, hoping it will serve a purpose or fill a need. They are all about preparing for a golden opportunity.
Unfortunately, those golden opportunities do not always come our way.
Take the killer little black dress I bought years back, my tribute to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had the opportunity to wear it to a reunion, but I held off because I was afraid, so I told myself, that I would be overdressed. It turned out it would have been perfect and heads would have turned all night long. Okay, I hope maybe at least one head would have turned at least once. The big question is why did I hold out thinking I would have another chance to wear it? Why did I deny myself the fun of it? Did I somehow feel I was not worthy of that spotlight?
Let’s not even talk about my stash of writer’s notebooks. To see my library, you would think I buy these bad boys by the bushel. I pick them out with loving care, choosing inspiring covers and reveling in the possibilities of the blank page. But these notebooks sit in my bookcase collecting dust. I save them for later because I do not want to ruin them. Instead, they sit there empty, waiting for the “perfect” words. Those words will never come if I do not give myself the go-ahead to write them.
I am too busy procrastinating.
Oh, dear novel. Do you see my dilemma?
Whether we are at the airport or even the doctor’s office, we all have to wait some time but we can choose to wait on our own terms.
The procrastinator defers what they fear while the save-it-for-later hopes for a better opportunity. The procrastinator distracts from what they don’t want while the save-it-for-later plans for what they do want. The procrastinator lives for the now while the save-it-for-later lives for the future.
I am both a procrastinator and a save-it-for-later, and I am sure you are too. No one lives in a black and white world. The trick is to ask ourselves why we wait? What are we afraid of? What are we hoping for? Why wait at all when we can reach our goals and dreams right this minute?
Come to think of it, after my plane lands, I am going to put an end to the waiting. I am going to drive home, slip on that little black dress, grab a notebook, and start filling those blank pages.
I have a long-awaited date with a novel.
But first, I have to wait for the pilot to bring me back down to Earth.