Saturday, January 17, 2015

Procrastination and Fear

It was a Sunday night.

I'd had a busy weekend.  Most of my weekends are busy.  This particular weekend was even busier--with an extra band practice and work and some side projects that were going to take up most of my time on Friday night, my whole Saturday, and my Sunday morning and afternoon, I knew I was going to have to plan well to get everything done.  So I told myself all week that I would have to be a grown up and set aside Sunday night to do some work for preschool.  I had a preschool work day on Monday and knew I would need to do some pre-planning for it.

So the weekend happened.  I had band practice and went to work and got all my side projects done.  Sunday night came.  I turned on my computer.  I looked at the folder on my computer's desktop--the one labeled "Preschool."  I looked at it for several seconds.

I clicked my internet browser on and clicked on my Facebook tab.  I played around on Facebook for a few minutes.  Or an hour.  I forget which.

I, again, had a stare-down with the "Preschool" folder on my computer's desktop.

I watched a few BuzzFeed YouTube videos.  Were Ashley and Andrew dating yet?

No.  Of course not.

I looked at that "Preschool" folder again.

I had to check Facebook again to see if anyone had responded to my hilarious status.  I had a couple likes.  That was nice.

I looked at the "Preschool" folder again.

I checked my bank account to make sure there were no fraudulent charges.  You never know when someone's going to steal your info.  Nope.  All clear there.

I checked the Facebook again.

I watched another YouTube video.  It had been a while since I watched David After Dentist, and you know, those older videos are still pretty hilarious.  How old is David now, anyway?  I should Google that.  Oh, My Lanta.  He's a teenager now.  I need to stop looking at this.  It makes me feel old.

And I looked at the "Preschool" folder.  Enough procrastination.  Do your work, Ruth.

I checked the Facebook again.

And then I started my preschool work.

Half an hour later, I was too tired to brain anymore.  My eyes were closing by themselves as I typed, so "Circle Time" became "Cieroiuadkjaofu."  I had to go to sleep.  My work was unfinished, but I figured I'd get up early and work on it.

Only, of course, I overslept.  I made it to work, but I had to use my work day to do my lesson plans instead of work on other stuff I'd intended to do.

And I realized I had a problem.


Now, I've always been a bit of a procrastinator.  I've never really had a problem with being a procrastinator.  But recently, I've started thinking about the reasons behind my procrastination.  And that was a slap in the face.  It wasn't what I was expecting, but I have to admit that it's true.

My procrastination is based on fear.

And since I'm doing a repeat in my "Year of No Fear" (last year just wasn't enough of a lesson), fear-based procrastination just isn't good enough.  It's just not.

There are several reasons why I procrastinate.

1. I'm afraid what I need to do is going to take forever, so I don't want to start.

I have been watching the same girls for 6 years.  They're older now, so I'm pretty much just a glorified chauffeur who yells at them to do their chores and homework.  But when the youngest one was younger, I would help her with her homework.

And by "help her with her homework," I mean "we met on the glorious field of battle."

There were tears.  From both of us.  Cries of outrage. Fits of fury.  You name it.

The worst part about it was that she would whine/cry/scream/fight/literally throw things before she would even START on her homework.  She'd complain for at least 45 minutes, and usually much longer, about how hard her homework would be, about how long it would take her to finish.  I would physically put her pencil in her hand because she claimed it was too hard to hold it.  I'd make her write her name, and she would AGONIZE for five minutes over that simple starting task.  Sometimes this sort of thing went on for an hour or more.

Then, when she finally started, she was done with her homework in ten minutes.  Ten minutes.  Homework time sometimes lasted an hour.  Only ten minutes of that time was actual homework.  The other 50 minutes was the battle before hand--the needless worry and anxiety that it would take FOREVER.

And sometimes, I act just like that.  I don't want to start because I'm afraid of the time commitment.  If I would just START doing what I'm supposed to do, it would be over quickly.  The work would be done.  But that fear of committing the time is just so hard to overcome sometimes.

2. I'm afraid I'm going to fail, so I don't even want to try.

I'm not a perfectionist, but I do want to do things well when I do them.  Sometimes I'm afraid that I'm going to fail before I even start.  So I put it off because I don't want to fail.  I put it off because I think it's going to be too hard.  I put it off because I don't want to make mistakes.  I put it off because I don't think it's going to matter, that no one will care or notice, that all my work will be in vain.  I put it off because I don't want to deal with the fear of being wrong, of being imperfect, of being not good enough.

I think that's probably the most relatable procrastination fear.

It's just hard to try sometimes.  It's hard to trust that the effort you put into something is going to be worth it in the end.

3. I'm afraid I'm going to succeed, and dude, that's a lot of pressure.

Have you ever done something really well, and then all of the sudden people expect greatness out of you all of the time?  What if you can't reproduce that?  What if people only like you because you did something well?  What if they stop liking you if you don't do it as well the next time?  What if they try to build a bridge out of you because they think you're a witch?  What if? What if? What if?

Go home, insecure brain.  You're drunk on lies.

4. I am afraid of gaining my soul, but losing the whole world.


That's the face punch right there.

When you get right down to it, that's the biggest problem I have.  I want to use "my time" on "my pursuits."  I'm like a dumb kid who wants to eat a steady diet of jelly beans, when my mommy wants me to eat my veggies.  It's fun to eat the jelly beans, but it's not responsible, and I'm going to eventually get sick.

I'd rather sit on the computer and waste time on silly things like Facebook and YouTube videos than do work that's important.  That important work requires an investment, and that investment is something that's going to turn into something eternally good--blessing children and their parents, and more importantly, furthering God's Kingdom.  Watching a YouTube video isn't doing anything but furthering my kingdom.  And my kingdom is kind of lame, quite honestly.  We don't even have pony rides.

But sometimes I act like I don't want to lose that kingdom, that tiny, insignificant kingdom.  Sometimes I act like I'd rather forfeit my soul in order to gain the whole world.  And what good is that?  Seriously.  What good is that?

It's not good at all.  And it's based in a fear that is really quite silly and selfish.  And it's just not good enough.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't have down time.  I need down time.  There's nothing wrong with Facebook or YouTube videos or reading or television or video games or whatever.  But there is something wrong with wasting time for the sake of wasting time.  There's something wrong with procrastinating because you're afraid.  And I'm guilty of both of these things.

And I'm just thankful the Holy Spirit has convicted me.  The hard part is now--putting the knowledge into action, making the changes.

God's been so faithful to me in this season of depression and anxiety and fear.  I'm learning so much.  I know He's going to get me through this season.  I just have to remember what's important.  I just have to remember that I'm dust, but with His breath inside me.

I want to breathe.  I want to live.  I want this life He's given me to matter.

Living in fear, living in self, living in just mere existence?  That's not good enough.

He's done too much for me.

He's done too much for me to live in fear.

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