“The Fear” of Failure Drives Student to Stop Procrastinating

Cheerfulmonk / Flickr
Cheerfulmonk / Flickr

Sunday night. I am about to throw myself out of the second story window of my house. Tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow starts hell week. Unfortunately, every week is hell week. There is no escape. From August until May, my days can be measured in aspirin tablets and empty coffee cups.

How realistic is that, you may ask? Well, when you have the time management skills of an ADHD-ridden toddler, it is a very realistic occurrence. Trust me; I have tried to fix my problems: lists, timers, schedules, books and even a time management class to which I was continually late.

I try. I really do. But distractions are abundant no matter where I am. At home, I’d try to study in bed and end up napping. Library? People-watching became my new demon, and I am left counting how many different shades of gray sweatpants come in. If I’m on my laptop, I end up googling things like “Lady Gaga’s penis” or new recipes for tofu. These things matter, but always at the most inopportune times. There is always too much of something, whether it is food, noise, technology or people.

I am considering investing in a bubble, a “study bubble” that will seal off the outside world to make me focus, to make me committed, attentive and devoted to completing my work. A big step toward living a stress-free existence.

How do people get things done? I’ve been in college for almost three years now unable to figure this out. Trust me. I get things done, but at the last minute, with sweat trickling down my forehead and my body shaking from “the fear.”

“The fear” is what I describe as the motivational push for any slacker, such as myself. You have a paper due at 6; it’s 4 p.m. and you only have the title. What happens? You refresh Facebook a few times, check your e-mail and make a sandwich.

What did you do last night? All of the above apply, give or take a few Facebook refreshes and perhaps a burrito in place of that sandwich.So now what? Accept failure? Frantically e-mail your professor and beg for an extension? No. You wait for “the fear” to hit you.

And when it hits you, you can’t stop. “The fear” is the simple driving force behind most college students. It is the “WTF” moment where things stop being nice and things get real. Your tuition comes to mind, the vision of disappointment from your parents and the feeling of being the only person in class without a paper to turn in.

It is like wearing the scarlet letter. With the aid of “the fear,” you’ll get that paper done. It won’t be great, but it’ll get done. So until that study bubble gets patented and distributed nationally, I will keep relying on “the fear” to help me meet deadlines. Or maybe I’ll invest in a new planner and some post-its.

Kristen Vasquez can be reached at kvasquez@ut.edu.

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