Here’s where you tell me it’s ridiculous to talk about my potential when I’ve never made an effort to use it. If I had an ounce of real potential, I’d get off my dumdum and do something. Go to school…buy an apprenticeship…or just start incanting on my own. Something. Instead, I’m squnadering my existence. On parties and fine food and umty-tiddly, as Zunctweed says. Doing nothing, day by day.
Do you know what it’s like to have dropped out of life? To have had a hundred chances to be special, but you avoided them all? Or just botched them up because you were a horrid coward, afraid of letting yourself change. You clutch your comfortable excuses, saying, Someday I’ll be brave, it won’t take a lot, just give me one more chance and this time I’ll grab it. But chances come and go. It would be easy to do something, but you don’t. You just don’t. Do you know what that’s like?…
Maybe it’s time. This time it’s time. To see if I’m somebody, or just a middle-aged slut who lies to herself about being gifted.
James Alan Gardner, Trapped
I have one singular bad habit. I procrastinate. It’s an old bad habit, and perhaps more insidious than a simple bad habit, it’s a habit borne of self-defense.
If I don’t lose weight, people will be forced to deal with my brain and not my body, and then the horrors of my early teens won’t be repeated.
If I don’t achieve what I can if I actually make an effort, people won’t then come to expect greatness from me. More importantly, they won’t be disappointed in me, and I’ll never again let anyone down. There is safety in mediocrity and being average, and I am as average and mediocre as I can stand to be.
But it’s not who I want to be, who I dream of being. And I am guilty of the above quote, of thinking that if I just had another chance, if I could just have that moment to prove myself and shine, I would shine. Oh, not shine the way you see me shine, but shine the way I know I can shine.
I would be brilliant. I would be breathtaking and brilliant.
In order to do that, though, I have to stop being afraid. Of consequences, of what will be, of what people will see. Of risk and failure.
The only way to be great is to work hard and take risks, and procrastinating protects me from both. And so I am safe, sheltered, bored and unhappy.
I took risks, once. The last one I took was four years ago, and it blew up in my face. It took me a long time, but I started taking tiny risks again, here and there. Getting in front of a class. Teaching. Applying for scholarships, grants, funds. Each time, I’ve done it, achieved what I set out for, and every single time, I’ve looked for the damned bomb that was going to blow up and ruin all the risk-taking and show everyone not for the fraud I am, but for the fractured, scared soul I am.
I thought graduate school was going to be that bomb. I thought I had finally found my Achillies heel, the thing that was going to neutralize all the risk. And at the seemingly last moment, even that proved untrue.
Which in some ways might be ironic, since now it leads all the potential for explosive failure back to my feet. Not that I failed to win or achieve, but that I will fail to do.
I’m scared of a lot of things. But it’s finally reached thet point where I’m more afraid of not doing anything than I am afraid of failing.
I’m tired of shooting myself in the foot. I’m tired of failing to live up to expectations at the last moment because it’s safer, and I’m disgusted with making excuses for the failure.
It’s time. Not to show you that these visions I have of myself are true, but to show myself.
Oh, I’ve got news. I learned how to procrastinate in grad school. I think you can’t survive with any sanity, if you don’t have some sort of procrastination habit. The weekend before my general exams, I decided i was going to learn how to knit.
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