There are perhaps few feelings in this world quite as defeating as the one that comes at the end of a wasted day. You lie in bed at 3 a.m., trying to sleep but instead thinking about all you had hoped to achieve that day relative to the oh-so very little that was actually accomplished. You kick yourself for having meticulously set up your desk with a notebook, laptop and Blue State coffee perfectly positioned, only to aimlessly scroll through random subreddits and Instagram comment threads. What felt like three minutes was, in reality, several hours. You then decide that tomorrow will be a better day, falling asleep having told yourself the lie you need to be at peace. The cycle restarts the next day. Such is the plight of every ill-disciplined college student, myself included.
This dilemma is the subject of countless jokes and even memes among those who suffer from this inability to work. It makes sense. After all, isn’t it nice to share a sad laugh with people who suck at the same things we do? It’s a classic case of coping with comedy. I have, however, found something odd about the other coping mechanism us lazy people often use: blaming procrastination. Don’t get me wrong, all of these wasted days are essentially lengthy bouts of procrastination. However, I don’t think that procrastinating is the cause of our troubles as much as it is a result of them. Saying “I’m just a procrastinator” as justification for delaying things, as I often do, doesn’t really say much at all. What about me makes me a procrastinator? Why am I constantly compelled to delay things that I need to do, sometimes even things I want to do, in favor of doing absolutely nothing?
I would venture to say that it’s a result of fear. For years, I have been telling myself that I want to improve my math skills, become a better narrative writer, run a little faster. For years, I have sat on my couch, wasting away while all the tools that I need to do said things remain at my disposal. I do so because I am afraid. Afraid of late nights staring at Stewart’s Calculus, not understanding. Afraid of sitting at a computer and not knowing what to write. Afraid of being tired and out of breath. Afraid of any pain, of any difficulty that would come with achieving what I want. So, rather than overcome this mental barrier, I push it to the back of my mind, make excuses as to why I cannot start today and crack jokes about my laziness to hide my disappointment in myself. I, and the many others who do this, get by just fine, but progress little. This innate fear of difficult times kills ambition. People often set ambitious goals for themselves that they are capable of achieving but abandon them once they become aware of the turmoil that comes with progressing toward said goals.
Things should be done within reason, of course. Believe in your work ethic all you like, but if you enroll in six higher level computer science courses, join four intense performance groups and write for three publications, then you’ll drown regardless. Mental health is important and should always take precedence over the pursuit of success. Assuming all else is well, however, there is no reason not to undertake legitimately difficult tasks.
We should not, then, be afraid of hard moments if we truly seek to grow. They should be embraced — not because we love, or even want to experience them — but because we must. Those late nights will be difficult, the challenges will be tiring and the failures will be demoralizing. But perhaps if we’re more self aware about the true reasons behind why we put our lives on hold so often, then we will be better prepared to tackle them. It’s best that we do so, for we will be better after having done so.
Carlos Carrillo-Gallegos is a first year in Trumbull College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .