Do you ever look at a butterfly and notice its translucent wings of various hues and patterns? It flutters in the sunlight and its beauty is magnificent. We marvel at the hands of nature, so skilled and so brilliant to be able to create a creature so immaculate. Yet, when we look at a caterpillar, often times, we view it only as what it can be, not what it is. The significance of a caterpillar is not that it is a caterpillar, but that it can become a butterfly.
Such a creature is characterized most of all by its evolution, which is the epitome of profound reinvention. A caterpillar’s very being is made of billions of cells who dutifully perform every task necessary to prepare its host for the final stages of metamorphosis. It sheds its old skin, lives in a new one for a while and when it outgrows that one, it sheds again. Then when it is ready, the caterpillar hides from the world, cocoons itself in a hard casing, and forms a chrysalis. It is during this time of progression that the cells of the caterpillar start changing rapidly. It eats itself and turns to liquid inside its pupa, molding into a new form better equipped for its new life. Old, unnecessary cells make room for improved ones while the other cells that remain reshape themselves into eyes, legs, wings and antennas– all the parts necessary for its reintroduction into the world. Then once the butterfly is ready, it fights its way out of its cocoon.
It reaches the final stage of its transformation, but it is still weak. Its body is still tender from the process of its transition. There is a brief period after it first unfolds from its casing where the butterfly must stop and give itself time for blood to fill its wings.
Then it flies.
No longer confined to the limits of its many legs, the butterfly explores the infinite paths of new wings.
We are, in so many ways, caterpillars crawling and consuming ceaselessly and without thought. When we reach our limit, we find ourselves at a standstill. During this time, it is easy to think we’ve reached our end and that there’s nowhere else to go. Like the cells of the caterpillar, every part of us will start to seem useless, unable to perform the tasks that were once necessary for survival and for growth. Our old cells are no longer beneficial, so we outgrow them. Thus begins our own transition where our old self forces itself into a new mold. We learn, adapt, and become better versions of who we are.
It is because we have these periods of weakness that we can achieve such strength. And just like butterflies, the lengths of our transitions vary among each one of us. While some may only take a couple weeks to transform themselves, others can take months and even years. Regardless, we are not defined by how long it may take us to escape our cocoon because we are ever-growing creatures running through an obstacle course that’s unique to us.
So when you look upon others who seem to be soaring with ease, and feelings of defeat start to consume you, remember that you are still a changing caterpillar simply growing within your chrysalis. The process of your transformation will be an arduous one. Yet, it is because of its difficulty that you will be better. You will be stronger. You will leave your cocoon with wings so radiant, you will be blinding.
Constantly being asked what I want to do in life and what my plans are for the future. And I realize that this is a question that’s been asked to us since we could walk, talk, and perceive what the world could offer, so really, what’s the big deal? The difference is that now we are no longer kids and our answer to this question really matters.
In school we’re taught the basics of achieving our dreams. But what about finding them? Of knowing what we want to do in life? Are those not essential as well? Why is there no class teaching us how to find our passion in life? The simple and real answer is because this isn’t something you can teach. There’s no formula to finding passion. And isn’t that a bitch?
This feeling isn’t something new to me. Actually, I’ve struggled with it for quite some time now. Last year when I was attending The University of North Texas, I saw a guy holding a sign that read: “Sit down and tell me WHY you’re Stressed”
Now, these types of things are particularly exciting to me. I’m not sure if it’s simply because I admire people who reach out to complete strangers or because I’ve watched enough cheesy movies to know that every protagonist undergoes some life changing epiphany after five minutes of conversation with a complete stranger– usually a homeless person. But to be honest, the only thing that I took away from it was this:
“Sit down and tell me WHY you’re Stressed” Dude: What’s stressing you out? Me (more or less): I have no idea what to do with my life. Dude: You say that as if every fucking person here knows what they want to do with their lives. Me: DUDE! You are so right.
So yes. The guy had a point. How many 20 something-year-olds do you know have their life together? Yet, despite this revelation I couldn’t help but feel completely… average. How could I take comfort in knowing I’m just like everyone else? I questioned why this was hitting me so hard. So I dug even deeper. I utilized my resources (Google) and learned that there were many people who didn’t reach “success” until later on in life. Ray Kroc was 52 when he bought McDonald’s and turned it into a billion dollar franchise. Vera Wang didn’t start her career as a fashion designer until the age of 40. Henry Ford didn’t create the Model T car until he was 45. There are tons of stories just like these– stories of people who truly embody the saying that “good things come to those who wait.”
After reading these stories, I asked myself if I felt better about my current position. My answer? Hell no. I still feel completely lost and stressed about what’s to come. Furthermore, I don’t want to wait till I’m 40 or 50.
But you know what I did learn from all this? That it’s okay to feel this way because it’s just a natural stage in life. Why does it have to be? Who gaht damn knows? But I also know that when you’re lost, you’re bound to find something that others haven’t found before. I know. That’s probably not the cliche answer you were hoping for. I apologize if you came to this post hoping to come out with some life-shattering realization, but alas! I, too, am still trying to get my shit together.
So, here’s to life, here’s to being 20, and here’s to hoping it’ll start to make some sense sometime soon.
“Finding yourself” is bullshit. Sorry to rain on your parade or diminish the purpose of your “spontaneous” week long “adventure” to some third world country slumming it with the locals while you play barefoot soccer with children in Yemen, Angola, or Cambodia, hoping that they’ll teach you to find happiness in the little things. News flash! These people are starving, thirsty, probably landlocked, and their lives should not be romanticized. You’re not going to find yourself doing yoga on the summit of a mountain or some valley hidden in the depths of foliage, where birds fly overhead trying to find the best place to drop their shit while you try to find your “inner peace.” You’re not going to find yourself by screaming at your boss, quitting that job you hate on the spot, and dramatically flinging your nametag in their general direction. You’re not going to find yourself by going to raves high on ecstasy rubbing up against random strangers with dance moves just as bad as yours. You’re not going to find yourself by hiring a life coach who’ll tell you what you’re missing in life and what you need to do to get that. If you’re going to be paying someone for doing nothing, then hire me. I need money for college.
For the purpose of not coming off as a complete dick on the internet, let me just say that doing any of the things listed above is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, I think most of them are pretty cool– with the exception of one or two I listed (hint: It’s not the ecstasy), I think you should do them all at some point in your life. The purpose of this isn’t to make fun of these activities. It’s to highlight the error in pursuing these activities with the sole goal of “finding” yourself, when in actuality, you’re probably just using it as a pretense for running away from your problems.
Firstly, What Does “Finding Yourself” Even Mean?
Claiming that we need to find ourselves implies that some part of us is lost. It’s like looking for our bag when we’re already wearing it on our backs. The idea that we need to start from scratch, escape the life we live in order to get to our “core” disregards all the progress we’ve made thus far. We can never start “fresh” because our biases and perceptions will always be there influencing the way we see things. We cannot erase the slate; we can only add to it.
Secondly, The Idea Itself is Fundamentally Flawed
That “core” we are all constantly hunting for and hold so sacred to the fundamental makeup of our “being” is an arbitrary concept designed by standards that are different for everyone. How can we find something when we’re not even quite sure what it is?
Finding ourselves assumes that there’s only one part of us. Yet, in actuality, we are complex, multifaceted creatures who are constantly evolving– changing and adapting to whatever the world demands of us in whatever chapter of life we find ourselves in. So in that sense, won’t we always be “finding ourselves?”
Thirdly, We’ll Always Be Chasing
But what are we chasing? Perfection? Understanding? Because no place, no one, and no job is perfect and there will always be facets of life that will confuse us. There will always be something wrong no matter where we are, who we’re with, and what we do. There will always be an obstacle to overcome. Spoiler alert: welcome to life.
If we’re unhappy, we do something substantial about it because we’re not going to solve the problem by abandoning the inconveniences in our lives, packing up, traveling somewhere else, and passing it off as us trying to find ourselves. It’s irresponsible to think that the answers to the problems we’re trying to escape from are hidden somewhere for us to find– some place exotic and remote, but still conveniently with wifi and aircon– because once we get back, guess what will be waiting for us: the same old problems.
Fourthly, We’ll Expect More Than What’s Realistic
When we actively search for “experiences” we cheapen its thrill and authenticity. If we’re looking for it, we’re obviously expecting something. But what happens when nothing comes out of that search? Disappointment. We live in a world where mass media romanticizes the idea of traveling to some exotic place where we’ll randomly meet some local who will tell us in broken english some earth shattering revelation that we could probably read on a fortune cookie. But that’s not reality. We are not Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love.
What ruins us is the idea of how it should be, of how the world tells us it needs to be. We chase life colored by how it is experienced by others and because of that, we lose the ability to accept things as how they are meant to be for our own unique journey.
It’s common to think that being an unsure, ”fragmented,” lost version of ourselves is limiting and our goal is to eradicate any doubt that we harbor against ourselves. But that uncertainty, so characteristic of being human, is a gateway to a plethora of opportunities and avenues that can teach us more than what we can infinitely imagine. It’s probably a lot worse to perceive ourselves as only one essential being that can only be defined in some distant place in the world, with someone new, doing something crazy and adventurous. We set up specific visions of who we want to be and where we want to go and isolate the opportunities we think will help us to achieve such things, not realizing how limiting that path is.
You are you, whereever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing— and you know what? That’s exciting as fuck. Because that means anything can happen. So just let life happen. You cannot “find yourself.” You can only improve who you already are.
If you truly want to find yourself, open Google Maps, click on “Your Location,” and voila! There you are.
Just a few months ago, I had the great fortune of being called in for jury duty. I basically sat in a cramped room with a hundred other people who didn’t want to be there either and were likely trying to think of a good reason to be excused. I know what you’re thinking, and yes– it was every bit as exciting and fun as you’d think it’d be. The entire waiting room was filled with people and, because the jury commissioner asked us to put our phones away while we waited for the judge to call us in, we passed the time by talking to those sitting next to us and bonding over our mutual hate for jury duty.
It was during this time that I shared a conversation with the man sitting next to me. We had talked about various things, but, most notably, bowling, bees, and existential crises at the age of 20.
He had asked me, “So you’re in school. What are you studying?” To which I replied, “Literature.” And, not to my surprise, he continued by saying, “Ah! So you want to be a teacher.” Being well rehearsed in this response, I kindly said, “No, not a teacher.” He scoffed, and then said, “I mean, what else can you be? A librarian?”
Now, I’m sure he meant this to be funny instead of offensive, but I realized that this is a common occurrence among those who choose to major in the humanities. In fact, I was more surprised that I wasn’t surprised by his response because I’ve grown so used to it. There seems to be this notion that the only job you can get by majoring in English, philosophy, communication, social science, or the various other humanity degrees is teaching. Many assume that it’s a “waste of tuition money.” You know what’s a waste of money? Paying for printing in the library.
But here’s some valuable insight you can share to all those people who tell you that your degree in the humanities lacks marketable skills.
Take writing for example. Writing is invaluable and will continue to be relevant and necessary in every field. More than that, good writing isn’t something you can achieve by inputting a formula in a calculator and waiting for a computer to prepare the message you want to convey. It comes with years of practice– of learning how to analyze, think critically, read well, and develop ideas. It requires forethought and knowledge, of words and their meanings, of cultural and historical context. You have to consider the audience you are writing for. You have to learn how to blend words and sentences together with coherence and unity in order to make it interesting enough for people to want to read. There are so many factors to be considered.
Some may assume that writing is irrelevant with video blogs coming out and print journalism going out of style, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Most of the knowledge learned and spread today is due to written works. Politicians, business owners, universities, nearly every industry you can think requires a written component in their field in order to function, and even more, prosper. Writing well, reading well, and critical thinking are all skills that are emphasized in a humanity degree and are components needed to accurately articulate thoughts and ideas.
In addition to that, humanities majors are taught to extend past the barriers of their own nations. With the expansion of businesses and the continued interactions between countries and cultures, we need people who approach situations with a global perspective. Communication majors, linguists, and those familiar with social science and intercultural studies can offer insight for more productive interactions between political leaders, business owners, and a plethora of other careers that prosper from understanding the social climates of various places around the world.
By learning the various customs, traditions, beliefs, and languages of other places, humanities students learn how to appropriately interact with those outside of their own corner of the world. They look at the world with broad lenses that allow them to view society as more than what they find within the confines of their respective locations. This is especially useful in today’s day and age and will continue to be so due to constant intercommunication among nations and their leaders.
And you know what else? The influx of business and stem majors means there’s going to be a need for the humanities in the future. The pendulum always swings back.
Now, you might say, “Via, look at the statistics.”
I’ll be honest and say I have searched up statistics, and all I see are numbers that mean nothing to me. The “unimpressive income of humanities majors” isn’t the reason I chose to major in literature. I chose it because this is what I love. I firmly believe that it is not our choices, but our reaction to our decisions that make us who we are and lead us to where we need to be, and it is because of that, that that data is irrelevant. Those who’ve contributed to those unappealing statistics don’t have to be me, and they don’t have to be you either. Don’t conform to the statistics. Defy them! Where would humans be if they didn’t seek to challenge the odds?
Sure. You can learn how to master Excel in a matter of weeks and read books and watch YouTube videos on the statistics of profit and loss. You can buy Rosetta Stone and learn French, Chinese, or German. But critical thinking, effective communication, and problem solving are skills honed by the humanities. They are at the core of the knowledge that we seek to achieve and these skill sets are not a “waste of money.” They come with time and constant practice and if you aren’t taught to employ them correctly, then you’re not really getting anywhere.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t me saying that the humanities are better than any other major out there. Just because I am speaking on behalf of those who have a passion for such studies doesn’t mean I wish to dissuade you from your dream of owning a business, or being an engineer, a math professor, politician, or whatever your heart desires. What I hope to leave you with is the message of value in all knowledge and learning. Nowadays you can’t approach something with one skill. It’s all interdisciplinary
We all need each other.
So the next time you hear jokes about humanity majors wasting time, effort, and money, laugh. Laugh hard and long. Not at the wisecrack of whatever that ignorant person said about your humanity degree, but at the sheer absurdity that there are actually people in the world who correlate the value of knowledge with monetary gain. Because if you’re so worried about money and luxury, then maybe you shouldn’t major in the humanities. Hell, don’t major in anything for that matter. Every field requires a risk and taking chances isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re afraid of the how uncertain the future is with a degree in the humanities, you won’t find security in any other major. We’re all finding our way and we’re all learning as we go. So we might as well do it with a passion.
The Secrets to Success: As Told by an Unsuccessful 20 Year Old
By Via Justine De Fant
From the age of 6, when I could really start to consider what I wanted to do in life, my options were endless and I felt without fear. I’d jump from one couch to another, scaling the stair railings in my house and declaring that I would be the world’s best mountain climber. After my parents found me precariously perched on the high summit of a pile of unstable boxes, they subdued this craving of mine and forced me to watch TV. Since they disapproved of television shows that held no educational value or benefit, my options were limited to PBS and science shows. Soon, I changed course to become a chemist, mixing different liquids I found in my refrigerator. After that went down the drain, I decided to be an actor. Of course, this lasted up until my mom walked in one me reciting lines in the mirror to which I responded by screaming, “why can you never respect my privacy?” and then slamming the door shut.
I then picked up my first guitar. I hammered away as if I were a b-string Billie Joe Armstrong, but after a week’s worth of practice, calloused fingers, and my limited ability to transition from one chord to another, I left my aspiration of being a lead guitarist in the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. By the time I reached high school I convinced myself that I’d make it big as a journalist. But after two years interning at the local newspaper company, I found that the incessant stress of time-sensitive work was just not the kind of challenge I wanted. Unfortunately, I learned later on in college that this aspect of life is inescapable.
As you can see my goals and aspirations were always changing, but the one constant that stuck with each endeavor I aimed to accomplish was simple. It was to be successful. This entailed Lamborghinis stacked with champagne bottles and me leaned over the railing of my mansion making it rain over my adoring fans.
Money, power, recognition– that’s what I wanted in my life. It didn’t matter what it was I did to attain it, just that I did. And my task since realizing this was to attain this success and make it, for lack of a better phrase, my bitch.
Now, I feel compelled to share with you a bit of tips and tricks that I, a wait-listed successful individual, believe all accomplished people must achieve. Sure, I may seem a tad bit unqualified, but if there’s one quality that any successful person possesses, it’s being overly ambitious.
Step One: Utilize Your Sources
Browse through self-improvement articles and self-help books from “successful” people you’ve never heard of before. Read as many as you can find on how to be successful and how to make a name for yourself. Read so much so that you begin to predict the bullet pointed steps that are about to be listed off even before you start the piece.
Soon after, I suggest you forgo this endeavor all together when you start to notice that you’ve read the same advice so many times that it starts to mean nothing. You’ll also be unable to achieve “the one thing all successful do” and wake up at 5 am every day. What this will accomplish is self-realization.
Realize that you are your own person and what works for one won’t always work for another. Use this excuse constantly. Just because a large percentage of prosperous individuals do what half the world is too lazy to doesn’t mean you should as well. So go ahead. Sleep in. Have more lazy days than productive ones. And for the love of god, don’t stare into the mirror and chant a mantra about how powerful you are today. Because none of these steps are convenient or fun.
Step Two: Create a Formula for success. All successful people have formulas.
Make your own list or formula with your extensive level of experience and knowledge. You’re an adult too (20). You’ve read enough “How To” articles. You’ve been exposed to the harrowing challenges of life and growing up. Except taxes, getting fired, or the stress of buying your own home, but that’s okay because you’ve read Buzzfeed’s “19 Charts That Will Help You Be An Actual Adult.” You’re an expert.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll soon be able to realize that the best formula is not to have one.
Fuck it. Just wing it.
Tell yourself that it’s best to live a life of chaos and disorder because you’re young, dumb, and crave that kind of excitement. It’s totally not because that’s easier than taking the time to really organize yourself. It’s okay to hope that the unmatched pieces of your life will somehow magically fit into placelike some cheesy Adam Sandler movie. Successful people don’t actually have to try or be consistent. That’s a myth.
Step Three: Ignore people who say, “You have time! You’re still young.”
No! You don’t have time. You know this because your mind ceaselessly reminds you how much you’re lacking when it compares you to those your age who’ve already accomplished so much. You’re growing old every minute you waste. You have to find what you love now so you can be successful in it before someone else beats you to it. Put all this pressure on yourself whilst doing nothing to change it. But tell yourself that you’re remaining stagnant because you’re waiting for “the right time.”
Step Four: Make The Right Choice
There’s nothing harder than making up your mind. But successful people shouldn’t be indecisive. They need to make good choices. Luckily all you have to do to achieve this is to take a breather. By breather, I mean binge watch Netflix, maybe work out or organize your closet for the 4th time and convince yourself you’re still being productive even if your attention is focused on the wrong thing. You’ll want to wait till the last minute of course. Use the excuse that you make your best decisions when under pressure and any choice made before would simply leave more time for you to change your mind.
You’ll also want to overthink your decision. Repeatedly ask yourself if you’re making the wrong choice. Make a pros and cons list, then promptly ignore it because what you should do isn’t what you want to do. Maybe flip a coin and pretend it’s defective when it keeps landing on tails. Put yourself under more pressure because you don’t want to just make a decision, you want to make the rightone.
Step Five: Soul Search
When you still can’t make up your mind, stare out the window. Make sure your expression is pensive. Ponder about your struggles. Ask yourself why you’re so lost as you try to relate yourself to the falling leaves landing on the ground only to be crumpled in indifference by that stray dog that always shits in your yard. Such poetry.
Don’t worry about your neighbors as you stare out with puzzling expressions. Their house is pink and brown. They don’t have the right to judge. While you’re at it, create a playlist reflecting all the turmoil you’re feeling, putting into rhythm the soul-itching need you possess to make something of yourself and the fear that you’ll never get there because you don’t actually know how. Let the lyrics sink in and convince yourself that you’re soul searching when you’re actually just wasting your time.
Step Six: Fear Failure/Fear Struggle
Failure is your enemy. It’s the fuel those who want to squander your dreams use to make you feel even more inadequate. Like Sam who stole your pink, glitter crayon in the first grade and told the teacher you went into the boys’ bathroom when you didn’t. Like Jeremiah who always finished his work before you, perpetually leaving you in second place. Like Chelsea from fifth grade who said she was the better lyricist when in actuality she just stole the words from “Perfect” by Simple Plan. Don’t give them that power, that satisfaction. Don’t fail.
Fear struggle. Just look at Steve Jobs. He founded Apple, but he was fired from his own company. I mean, sure he ended up rising from all that and delivering a commencement speech that provided people with motivation for all but 15 minutes, but he struggled. He failed. And you don’t want that. You want a straight path, sans rocky roads and ledges that could send you straight down to rock bottom. You can be successful without failure or obstacles to block your way. Keep telling yourself that.
Step Seven: Cherish Fleeting Moments of Clarity
Cling to those quickly passing moments where your mind quiets down. These are rare and a blessing, so don’t let them go to waste. These are the moments when you’re stuck in bed at 2 am, staring up at the ceiling and realizing that somehow, someway, you’ll be okay. You may not have it all figured out now, but you will. Hopefully.
It is during this time where you actually admit to yourself that you have no idea what the fuck you’re doing, who you are, or why god, Allah, or some entity who you imagine has the same voice as Morgan Freeman, is really even concerned about you, a tiny speck in the vast universe. You don’t know why, in some subconscious effort, you’re the only one truly rooting against yourself. You don’t know any of these things
But that’s okay.
Because, ultimately, you know where you want to be.
In the winner’s bracket.
You’ll start to see success as less about money, power, and fame and more about happiness and fulfillment. And you realize that this will all come with growth. You will learn that in these moments what you must possess is patience– a virtue that’s not easily achieved, but crucial. In these early mornings, you will want to work hard for that success, struggle and grow, embrace your fears, wake up early every morning and one day have a solid, organized formula to call your own. You will want to foster the patience for that day of utter vindication. Where all your “struggles” become, in hindsight, the things that made you successful.
For now though, to your complete frustration and confusion, you are still unable to fully accept these truths enough for them to carry on through to the next day, week, or months.
So cherish these 2 a.m.’s. because you will wake up to their absence.
We’ve all seen that movie with the old guy who puts his hand on a younger man’s shoulder and says, “You made the right choice, son,” and because of dramatic irony, we can so clearly tell that no, the guy actually did not make the right choice. In fact he made a terrible decision which will then be followed by a montage of moments of him living through the outcome of said “right choice” which should make him feel happy and fulfilled, but actually make him feel empty inside and blah blah blah. I won’t waste anymore time summarizing something you’ve probably seen a million times. My point is that so much time is spent trying to make the “right choice” that by the time we actually make a decision, we’re only left with regret and “what ifs.”
But I’ve learned that the power of a decision isn’t in the act itself, but in the person making it. As much as we may wish for it, life doesn’t have a manual. Obstacles will be raised regardless of the road you choose. The goal isn’t to aim for the path with less roadblocks. The key is to face those problems head on and gain some knowledge and understanding once you surmount them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should be lazy, throw it all to the universe and hope for the best. What I mean is that when you’re faced with different choices, the best option is to just choose one and commit to it. Believe in your choices and believe in yourself to carry them out.
If you’re aiming for something big and you’re caught up in trying to make the right choices in life, don’t stress over it, don’t lose sleep over it, and don’t feel as if it’s the end of the world if it doesn’t pull through the way you expected. Something that I’ve always known, but only recently started to understand, is that things happen for a reason. Your car broke down today on your interview because you’re better suited for another job.
That waiter who spilled coffee on your favorite tie actually saved you from an awkward run in with your ex when you went to wash off in the bathroom. Instead of Canada like I had planned months for– I wasn’t able to get a study permit in time– I ended up in at a Texas university with two great friends and had one of the best years of my life. I know. It’s all very Harry Potter ‘this is your destiny’ type of shit. But my point is…
If it happens, it happens. If not, then that’s okay too! I’m starting to learn that the secret to life is to just make a decision. For less obvious choices, there’s no use in weighing pros and cons if they’ll just even out. There’s no use in over-analyzing what the “right” decision is because if you think about it, different things work for different people and in different ways. So in actuality, it’s not the choice that you make, it’s your reaction to the outcome of that choice that leads to your happiness or success. And that’s just what life is. It’s a cycle of decisions you have to keep making and your responses to them. So whatever happens trust yourself to make the most of it. Work hard, believe in your choices, and you’ll be just fine.
This is long overdue. I’ve actually had this idea for quite a while. But in true Via fashion, I procrastinated on this article. Now we can spend hours making a list on why I put things off for the last minute, but rather than go into detail about that, let me share something I found online (while I was procrastinating). According to the article “Why We Procrastinate” written by Hara Estroff Marano from Psychology Today, procrastinators can fall into these categories:
There’s more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:
Arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.
Avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability
Decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
Now if you’re an overachiever like me, you fall into all of these. At this point, I’ve just accepted this as a facet of my personality. I know. Really healthy. However, despite this, I’ve still found ways to work with it *Pause* Now before I get into my tips, because of the oversensitivity of the internet I feel I should put in a little disclaimer here: I am in no way trying to advocate for procrastination. But if you must, let me help you do it the best way I know how. *Play*
Post daily reminders Let’s say you have a big project, essay, or assignment coming up– if you’re exceptionally unfortunate, all three will be due in the same week. The first thing to do is write it down in a planner, on a post-it, or in your phone. Set an alarm a day before it’s due. Wherever it may be, the important thing is to not forget. Do a little at time Nothing is more detrimental to productivity than the mental strain of a heavy workload. The larger a task is, the less we want to do it. By doing a little at a time the burden is minimized until eventually it’s completely gone. This is also known as the Zeigarnik Effect. *A little spoiler alert though– you’re never truly done with work. Welcome to adulthood.* For example, if I’m writing a 10 page essay, I commit to a plan. Monday: Create the outline Tuesday: Write the Intro and half of the body Wednesday: Finish it off and write the conclusion Thursday: Revise Friday: Edit AlternativelyChange the setting and binge work If it can’t be done at home or in the library, switch it up. A different environment is usually the push needed. During these times, I opt for a cafe, plug in my earphones, and just work until I’ve completed everything. When I’m on a roll, I don’t stop because I never know when I’m going to get the motivation to do the task again. And finding the motivation is the hardest part. Do the hard stuff first Let’s take a trip back to memory lane when we had to take the SAT or ACT. I know we’ve all tried hard to block out those memories, but bear with me for a moment. Remember when the proctor informed us that it would be in our best interest to do the easy questions first and then go back to the hard ones? Well, don’t do that here. I actually find it easier to do the hard ones first so that the easy ones seem more pleasant to do. It’s like… being forced to eat a bag of rotten eggs and then given a bag of black licorice. Both terrible, but compared to expired eggs, black licorice taste like heaven. Clean your closet Well if you’re not going to do your homework, might as well do something productive so it at least feels like you’re not a total waste of space. There’s also a Via Science behind this. I find that when I do something useful like clean or work out, I start to feel really good. Basically, the more productive I am the more I wish to be so. Therefore, I carry that energy I accumulated from finishing little tasks and use it to accomplish a bigger one. Throw away perfection Leave perfection at the door. Remember, you don’t have to shit out the best paper in one sitting. In fact, the best ones we usually shit out after the third or fourth sitting. Maybe even past the tenth if you’re striving for excellence. The most important thing is to do it. All the revising and editing will come later.
Those are some tips I have! I would write more, but I’m using this article to procrastinate on my an exegesis for my English class. If you guys would like to share your thoughts or comments, feel free to leave a comment below! Happy procrastinating!
Waking up, working out, finishing that essay, going to work to get that $chmoney– whatever it is, I’ve found every excuse in the book to put it off even for just a few minutes more. Unfortunately, as life goes, the things that benefit us most in the long run are usually the very ones we tend to avoid. More than that, finding the motivation to do them is like trying to find redeeming qualities in a Trump supporter– taxing and tedious.
Would I go so far as to say I’m an expert in getting things done within a prompt and ideal time frame? Hell no. I still procrastinate and set 5 alarms 10 minutes apart because I over-abuse my snooze button. Now does that mean you shouldn’t take my life advice? Honestly? Maybe. However, after reliving this struggle over and over, I can’t deny that I’ve learned a few things that have helped me overcome that perpetual shadow of procrastination and cultivate motivation when I needed it most. Maybe it can help you too.
I’ll even list them and bold the important parts so you can completely ignore this intro and get to what you’re really here for. Which, let’s be honest, is what everyone does.
1. Take care of your mind and your body WHY: I bet you were expecting “Wake up early” to be number one. Jokes on you, that’s number two. Instead of waxing poetry about how mind and body are one, I’ll just tell it to you straight out. Mind and body are one. The deterioration of one will eventually lead to the gradual yet inevitable downfall of the other. Damn, that sounded pretty poetic.
When you take care of yourself, you feel a lot better at the end of the day. In turn, you will more likely be able to turn that good energy into something productive.
HOW: Eat healthy, make a good breakfast and don’t sit on your couch all day. Focus on positive thinking. You may not want to write that essay, but the bright side it shows that you’re afforded the opportunity to go to college and learn. You may not want to exercise, but on the other hand, you have perfectly functioning limbs to do such things.
2. Wake up early
WHY: Waking up early is vital to a productive day. The earlier you start on your objectives, the sooner they get done. Compare this to sleeping till 12, where you feel lethargic and move at the pace of that sloth in Zootopia (which, if you haven’t, you should totally watch. Note: this is not sponsored. I just think it’s a great movie.)
Moreover, if you’re the kind of person who makes a lot of mistakes (e.g. me) having more time in the day to finish your required tasks leaves room for error and improvement. This is especially helpful if you’re working with a deadline. Plus, don’t you feel amazing after being productive? Though it’s psychological, that feeling of accomplishment can have a positive impact on your overall mood and in turn your day.
HOW: Sleep at a decent hour and stop binge watching New Girl till 3 a.m. Set your alarm at a reasonable time– let’s say, nothing past 8 a.m. Now disable your snooze button. After that, the first real step is to open your eyes. If you think that’s hard, wait till you hear this next one: Get out of bed. Crazy! I know. But you can do it. I’ve found that once you get out of bed and get moving, the initial grogginess of waking up early fades soon after. From there, make yourself a good breakfast and get it movin’.
3. Write a list. Seriously. This saves lives.
WHY: When you outline an agenda, the day flows much faster. Sure, you can always file a list in the back of your mind, but being able to view your tasks and physically cross them out, helps to make your goals seem more tangible and able to overcome.
HOW: When you write your list, don’t just write: “English paper”. Subtask it. Pretend you’re giving this to the most simple minded person on the planet. Make your list clear and defined so you don’t have to waste time getting into the details of what to do next.
Here’s an example:
To Do List
Research and brainstorm
Write introduction, body, and conclusion
Dominate like a boss
15 Leg Lifts
15 Bicycle Crunches
15 Chicken wings
4. Find a conducive environment
WHY: Everyone’s different. But for many, if not most, a clean organized space is ideal for optimal productivity. For others, open areas in the outdoors provide a plethora of inspiration. Keep in mind: Various environments can yield different results for the same task.
HOW: I prefer to take my laptop or notebook into a public area– because then I’ll feel pressure to actually write and look busy. This is going to require a bit of trial and error. Are you the kind of person that studies and writes best with movement and noise? Try a cafe and plug in your headphones. If you prefer something quiet, try your library or a conference room at your school. I’m sure there are more options, but I’m not going to do all the thinking for you.
5. Make it fun
WHY: The more boring something seems, the less you want to do it. That’s pretty much all I have for this one. I mean, it’s pretty straightforward.
HOW: Plug in your headphones and rap to Drake while you get your homework done. Play basketball while you throw the trash from your room into a garbage can. You get the idea.
6. Remove Distractions
WHY: Have you ever started the daunting task of cleaning your room only get distracted by all the random and useless things you bought in 2009? Or maybe you had to type out an essay but your notifications keep going off because your group chats are constantly on a roll? As hard as they are to ignore, these distractions are crippling to productivity.
HOW: If left with options, we’re always inclined to choose the one that seems more fun. So make your work seem like the most fun option you have.Store away your phone or put it on airplane mode if you must. Turn off your notifications. You don’t have to go cold turkey, but you do need to discipline yourself. If you want to be really extreme– as in “holy sh**, I just wasted a week streaming Grey’s Anatomy online and have to turn in this essay by tomorrow why am I like this” extreme (speaking from personal experience)– give your phone to your friend. If you’re truly desperate and brave enough, give it to your parents. Have them hold on to it until you submit proof that you’ve completed what you had set out to do.
7. Do it with a friend
WHY: When you share your goals with someone, be it just verbally or mutually, you’re held accountable for your action. There’s more pressure to carry it out and get it done. Plus, when you share a goal with a friend, it’s always comforting to know they are suffering just like you.
HOW: Find a friend. But not just any friend– someone you can really count on for support. If they push you to be better, reciprocate. Text each other daily reminders to get that paper done. Run together. If one stops, pull them along until they reach that 3 mile goal.
8. nike Just do it
WHY: Nothing comes to you served on a silver platter. The things worth having don’t come easy. And furthermore, you shouldn’t want them to. Accomplishments are given value when we know we’ve earned them. And you’ll be pleased to know that more times than not, once you start and find your rhythm it’s hard to stop.
HOW: Ultimately, you can read a million self-help articles, listen to all the motivational speakers in the world and it would still mean nothing if you didn’t get up and actually do it. So just do it. Literally. That’s it.
So there it is. My 8 tips to finding motivation. I realize that 8 is such a random and somewhat awkward number. But 5 was too short and 10 was too long.
Now I’m going to do that thing that all blogger and vloggers do and encourage you to interact with me. What do you agree and disagree with on this list? Also, what motivates you?