What time is it, anyway?

“You’re gonna screw yourself over.” “That’s not a healthy habit to develop.” “When you get to high school, you’ll feel differently.” These are things I’ve heard over, and over, and over again for the past six years or so. Yes, I confess, I’m a procrastinator.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who knows me that I always seem to get my work done, even though I do so at the last possible minute. What may be a bit surprising, though, is how I’ve survived this long.

At the end of each semester, for almost as long as I can remember, I’ve shown my parents either good or very good grades on my report card. Their first response? “Great job, honey, super proud of you!” Immediately afterwards? “You got lucky. This won’t last forever.” People, it seems, have been trying to convince me that I need to start my work earlier.

No one seems to be able to wrap his head around the idea of procrastinating being okay. Sure, I’ve fallen a little behind this year (explanation to follow), but until now, I have genuinely been fine. Those of you reading this now are probably thinking, “Wow, he needs to shape up. He’s been okay thus far, but he’ll need to change soon.” And to be honest, I totally agree with you.

Alas, it seems as though this streak of prideful inertia has sadly come to an end.

However, I’ve been hearing that year after year, and I’ve believed it, only to come to the ever so startling, and of course relieving, realization that no, waiting until the last minute doesn’t do me any harm. In fact, in may have helped me some.

One of the biggest misconceptions about procrastination is that the procrastinator is sitting somewhere, getting fat, playing video games, and just sort of lethargically wandering into an irresistible, soul-sucking abyss, its primary goal being to kill all productivity. For some, unfortunately, this is actually a pretty accurate description. (Obviously, I won’t name names, but I do know of a few people who have either intentionally or accidentally condemned themselves into a state of constant panic.)

On the contrary, procrastination has done some good in my case. Instead of spending time on a set of math problems, whose principles I’ve already mastered, I’m able to pursue my own interests, and deepen my knowledge in areas perhaps not directly studied in school. I, for one, have watched numerous TED Talks, all of which have, in some way, made me smarter. The price? My time, and thus, my homework. This hasn’t hurt me, though.

Like I said before, I come back at the end of the school year with a report card in hand, only to actually feel good about what I’ve accomplished and what I have (not) worked for. Alas, it seems as though this streak of prideful inertia has sadly come to an end.

Since the beginning of 10th grade, my workload has been off the charts. I’ve stayed up until at least midnight for at least the past 4 days. Some of this is my doing, I realize, but generally speaking, I get home from school or from whatever activity I’m doing and I do my homework. For the material that I can’t confidently perform in, I really improve. For pointless assignments that just waste my time… distinctly less so.

Although I may be learning something very valuable that will help me in the future, by doing so, I’m missing out on all the opportunities that might also offer me something useful, opportunities that could deepen my knowledge and passion on any given subject.

How will I learn about how body language shapes your personality when I don’t have any time to learn about it? Who will I be able to talk to regarding the construction of cities underwater when I don’t know about it myself? You see, for procrastinators, all that “don’t know” or “don’t do” that people give them a hard time about, they make up for with “I do know” or “I can do that,” but it’s not recognized because people don’t think of it as valuable.

At any rate, “I do know” a few things for certain: it’s really late, I just spent an hour learning about the 9th SS Panzer Division “Hohenstaufen,” and I should really try to get some sleep.