My name is Claire and I am a procrastinator. I have always been a procrastinator and I probably will be for the rest of my life. If you are like me, and you find yourself hanging on by a thread as the semester comes to an end and you try to finish, or even start, the projects that you learned about on the first day of class, then do not give up hope. You are not alone, and according to something I’d like to call science, you are going to be okay.
There are two types of procrastinators in the world. There are those who procrastinate on accident and are overcome by a crippling surge of shame as they turn in work that they struggle to even put their name on, knowing that they could have done better had they worked harder or made better decisions. Yet, these are not true procrastinators: they are people who procrastinate from time to time. If you fall into this group, take a deep breath– you are going to be okay.
Then there those who procrastinate because the sweet feeling of turning in an essay at 11:59 pm the day that it is due is actually their most natural state. The thrill of knowing that you pulled a full-on Indiana Jones and grabbed your hat right as the stone door deadline slams shut is one of the most exhilarating things you can experience in the world of academia. If you fall into this group, I don’t have to remind you to take a deep breath: you are already okay.
Procrastination is all fun and games until you actually have to put in the work and get your assignment turned in. Some people can’t handle the pressure and break, while others get it done with a few tears and a good laugh, yet most people vow that they will never do it again. So with all of these big promises that we make to ourselves everytime we barely make a deadline, why are we still up late the next week when the next big paper is due?
Psychology professor and expert Dr. Anna Harper has the very technical and scientific answer for procrastination, saying, “Procrastination is a cycle of avoidance that is highly reinforced.” She explained that while procrastinating, the positive effects are immediate, especially if you can procrastinate and receive an average or even above average grade.
Dr. Harper also pointed out that the cycle of procrastination may be coming from a deeper place than just laziness. She encourages students to look within themselves, asking, “What would happen if you were to give it your all and your final grade was less than you expected?” This is the type of question that can help students get to the root of their procrastination and potentially break the cycle.
However, if you are anything like me and don’t want to go down the dark path of figuring out which specific childhood trauma caused you to become a chronic procrastinator, then Dr. Harper suggests implementing behavioral changes and enforcing them with rewards.
The toll that procrastination can take is apparent in the lives of many college students. All over SNU’s campus, you can see the face of students who have been ravished by this procrastination pandemic.
SNU student Sam Carroll said, “I didn’t even know it was possible to live without always procrastinating [crying laughing face emoji].” The crying and laughing emoji is what sums up the life of a procrastinator. There may be hope of a life without procrastination, but none of us can see it through our tears.
As the semester comes to a close and what you have put off comes back to haunt you, don’t forget to laugh. At times it can seem like you walk a lonely road as a chronic procrastinator, but just be assured that you are in good company. If you are reading this instead of doing an assignment that is due very soon, I salute you, because I am writing this instead of doing numerous assignments as well. Take a deep breath, it is going to be okay.