I'm 22 and procrastination is ruining my life.
Today I was on facebook (procrastinating) looking at the university graduation statuses and pictures of everyone i went to school with and felt like crap. They're all graduating this year and I'm still plodding along in the same supermarket job I had at high school.
I was an over-achiever at school until I was about 15 and got the internet. It became a constant time-consuming obsession for me at a time when I didn't have many friends. I stopped studying and started falling behind in my classes. This persisted throughout high school, and procrastinating had become such a deeply ingrained habit that I didn't need the internet to do it anymore. I'd write lists.. watch rubbish tv.. do nothing. I messed up my final exams and then went to college (community college for Americans) to resit them and get back on track. By now I was sabotaging everything I tried with procrastination and failed that too. Then I realised my true calling was fashion design.. say 3 years ago now? I did a year of that at college and then dropped out as I was falling behind again. I am still a novice at sewing and sketching.
The most painful part is that I am the most ambitious person I know, desperate to be creative and productive. I spend my time reading pointless bs on the net or watching tv. Sometimes just laying in bed. Like a true procrastinator, I take great joy in writing extensive and detailed lists/life plans! My sewing machine sits on my desk getting dusty, as does my sketchpad. I have to lie to friends and family that I'm on track for applying to art school. I have just missed the deadline for a second year and my portfolio remains undone.. haven't even started! Its not just my creative ambitions suffering..
It has reeked havoc and misery on every area of my life. Financially - I procrastinate leaving the house so miss the train and get a taxi to work. I procrastinate paying off store cards and ruin my credit score. Socially - I procrastinate buying christmas gifts and never get round to it, harming friendships. Constantly letting people down. Health - Still haven't booked my smear test.. sorry if thats TMI! Everything is a last minute stressful rush - getting ready to meet friends, moving flats etc..
I have become very socially anxious and consider myself to be uninteresting. I take my analysis-paralysis mindset to conversations and find myself grasping for things to say instead of being relaxed and natural. I know this is a different problem but I believe it to be linked - because I don't spend my time doing anything interesting, I feel I have nothing to talk about. Don't even read books anymore. I feel I can't engage with people and participate in social situations fully because I'm not participating/engaging with the world properly. Does that make sense? It makes me feel like I'm on a different playing field from everyone else and so I can't forge real connections with them because i feel too inadequate to just relax and enjoy other people's company.
I've analysed why I procrastinate and I think at this point its mostly habit by this point but partly because I feel so discouraged at how behind I am in life. I start sketching, realise I suck at it, think how good I would be if I had spent the last 3 years doing it and get depressed. Then I don't feel like doing anything but fall back into my displacement activities - eat food and go online. The scary part is the extent of my inactivity. I would truthfully estimate that I've spent less than 24 hours doing things that matter in the past year.
I'm an attractive and intelligent 22 yearold with the potential to be very happy. Instead, I'm ashamed of myself. I'm absoloutely terrified that I'll continue wasting my life until I'm 30 with the same problems, plus the weight of even more regret. I'm also sick of dissapointing my mother. I've read all the procrastination articles and books and nothing can alter the nueral pathways/my behaviour. I occasionally have little bursts of action but they never last more than a few hours. I want to start manifesting and reaching my potential. Thats why I signed up. (A year ago and have only just made my first post! Ha!) I think it might be good for me to give and get support from others like me. Hopefully this forum will be a step in the right direction. Thanks for reading.
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feeling your plight
I'm right there with you, buddy. I'm 32, at university, desperately trying to get the hang of my PhD, and all the while I feel my head is just filled with "pointless bs" which is the only word for it. It's funny having it there because you can take it out in funny moments and watch the hilarity unfold, but it doesn't do anything for you in the long run.
I get home from work or university and after dinner I sit in front of my machine (which I've already spent the last 8 hours on when I'm at university) for the next 4 hours cycling through Facebook, Twitch.tv, YouTube and spending the rest playing stuff on Steam, all the while generally not really doing anything that satisfies OR gets me anywhere.
At some point along the way I have read that your brain gets addicted to what I would like to call "computer activity" (anything from games, tublr blogs, funny videos, you get the idea) because it's a simple, routine activity with instant and constant reward. Only trouble is, you start needing this gratification constantly because that's what it relies on. AND other mental activities like reading and acquiring knowledge become just not as gratifying.
So what do I do? Luckily I have a job that satisfies me, I have started to eat more conciously and healthier (though still working on that), I have started going to the gym and have taken up squash which is awesome.
Basically how i see it, and what keeps me going, is that you have to tackle one thing at a time, make it good and make it last - don't fall back into old habits. One thing at a time! Say, no more picture blogs. make the concious decision! You know WHY you don't want to spend time on them. They are good reasons, you can be positive about them. And don't get me wrong, it's tough! It's oh, so difficult. But if you get into the habit of feeling good about simply changing one small thing (having a shower and a very aware, concious way every day/time might be a start) you'll be able to feel good about changing other things that bother you.
Also, you talk about not wanting others to know about your problems, especially people close to you because you don't want to hurt them. I'm with you on that too. But you need an outlet for the frustration. A way of coping, a way of scouring through all those issues you're not tackling by procrastination. A counsellor can be such an outlet to begin with - just someone unrelated who'll listen, maybe give you ideas how to deal view certain things in a different light and generally give you advice. But ultimately you'll need someone close you can trust and who you can open up to, because in the long run, having a friend to confide in is just soooooooo much more staifying than counselling.
The bottom line:
I'm always amazed by how similar we all sound. We're definitely not alone in this but sometimes it can feel like it. In fact I visit teamliquid. A starcraft forum, and there are quite a few people unsatisfied with their lives in a similar way there too.
In particular these two lines ring true:
I was an over-achiever at school until I was about 15 and got the internet.
The most painful part is that I am the most ambitious person I know.
I think I got my first computer when I was 17. Things went to hell after that for sure.
But at the same time I like to look on the past with rose tinted glass. I was a dumb kid back then too.
And I'd have gotten addicted to internet eventually. There would have been no avoiding it.
I do feel overly ambitious though. Even during the summer I can't seem to fully let go.
I don't feel like I'm too antisocial though, but I'm on probation studying computer engineering at a really brutal and stressful college.
I don't think I wasn't capable of learning the material. I was just too lazy. This sounds like an excuse and that I'm trying to say I'm smarter than I really am.
I'm not very talented either. My friends can code things twice as fast as me.
I always try to find people on this site to hold me accountable but it never works out since people stop doing it. Wanna try?
My two cents
Find out what it the very core reason why you wanted to study fashion. Does it have to be fashion design?
What are your best traits? What is it you do that makes you feel glowing and happy? Are there other possibilities of living out this inclination?
And you may feel like all your friends are far ahead of you, and feel
like you will never keep up, but you don't have to keep up with them. I
think taking the long road has many experiences that will make you
stronger and better than all of the people who did it all right at the
right time. (Many of my far-ahead friends complain about their jobs, for example.)
And really, if you have hit the lowest point and you feel as bad as it sounds from your post, it can only get better. I think sometimes we have to give up old, useless dreams to stop the regrets and become wide open to escape from the box these dreams have built for us.
perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)
I'm 22 too!
I really really really relate to your post. Especially the part about going to sketch and then stopping because you don't feel like you are good enough. I don't want to be a profesional musician, but I am scared to pick of up my guitar for the same reasons.
SO much of what you said resonated with me. I was supposed to graduate this year but did not because of depression and eventually because my boyfriend got me pregnant. I am still in school, but it seems like the degree is lightyears away.
Just wanted to let you know that I really really really understand. I can't even say so much because I'll procrastinate writing it. Hang in there.
A familiar story
A lot of what you wrote seems like I wrote it myself. You do have a firm grasp of your ambitions but there's that painful lack of follow-through. And there's the uncomfortable habit of lying to those who may innocently ask about your welfare. The colloquial "how are things?" or "what have you been doing?" normally set off a litany of evasions or half-truths to mask the fact that I spend my time much like you do: Internet surfing, seething over other peoples' successes, ultimately feeling depressed and hopeless about not doing something with my own life. Whole days are wasted, then weeks, months and years; and all the time you may be looking back and wondering how it turned out this way. The Internet is poison for some people.
Are you certain that fashion design is your true calling? I apologise for second-guessing but a lot of time can be spent obsessing over what one "ought to do" to realise your dream, but it might be better to re-evaluate what you really want and who you really are. I'm not sure, but there's a part of me that thinks our chosen passion may not be true if there's no action behind it. If one were passionate about it, one would have no problem pursuing it, I think sometimes. The easy solution - "drug of choice" - that fuels procrastination normally doesn't bring much joy after a while, but there's a part of us that genuinely enjoys it. I hope you are certain about your interest.
- "A procrastinator's work is never done."
Hi, welcome I'm relatively
Hi, welcome :) I'm relatively new to this forum myself, but I'm involved in other 12-step groups like Coda and UA (Underearners).
I wish I had been able to really pursue 12-step when i was your age. I'm 20 years older than you, and the best you can do is not beat yourself up about this, we have a compulsion. It definitely gets worse with age so I beg you not to give up! Try other 12-step groups for support too if you need them. Don't underestimate the insidious power of this addiction/compulsion, there's a lot to it that causes us to behave this way, so most importantly have compassion for yourself, and treat it like an alcoholic has to treat their drinking problem. The effects are just as bad IMO.
My procrastination started as a preteen. Very young, I was waiting to the last minute to do homework assignments and esp. those special reports and exams. It's not just a habit, there are deep-rooted psychogical reasons I think.
Keep coming back and check in, it helps! :)
The main problem with that line of thought.
You can quit drinking forever but there is no one who doesn't procrastinate ever.
Well said. Vagabondmoon
Well said. Vagabondmoon is about 25 years ahead of me.
And it is much harder to change this much farther down the road.