Intro: The time has come to commit
I've been on PA for about a month, I think. I've been commenting, often at great length, in the forums, and occasionally using the chatbox when I've got something to do which - I have to admit - I expect to be able to achieve easily. So I've been 'achieving' things like cleaning or cooking, that once started are dead easy for me to get into and finish (I'm a bit OCD once I'm cleaning) but not the things that I know in my heart I ought to be doing. Things like writing and applying for jobs. I've been meaning to write my intro on PA for weeks, but I could never bring myself to do it, as I made the mistake of turning it into something I "must" do.
I have a major procrastination problem, and I've basically been fooling myself into thinking I was taking positive steps towards dealing with it. Up 'til now, while writing this, I've been in denial about the fact that I still haven't committed to sorting this out. So I have to (sorry, sorry: "will enjoy and am going to") give myself a kick up the bum, start writing check-ins, and actually commit to 12-stepping. I will! Part of that is writing my intro today:
I finished a science PhD six months ago, but before that I spent three months doing nothing, playing computer games, experiencing some serious dread while waiting to be examined. Before that, I spent six months writing up my thesis, which is about twice what is expected for PhDs in my line of research. As part of this I missed two "final final final" deadlines -the sort of thing that they tell you at the start of the PhD that if you go past this deadline, it is an automatic fail.
This was because I couldn't bring myself to write - I sat down each day with the best of intentions, sat there in front of the thesis, unable to squeeze a drop of creativity out of my gourd... then I browsed the news, Facebook, forum sites and it was time for lunch. I started again in the afternoon with the best of intentions, but after an hour (...half an hour ...ten minutes) of not being able to produce anything, I was loading up my favourite computer game and wasting the rest of the day playing it. It was pitiful, especially for a man of my age. I tried to take steps to avoid the computer game, but ended up going on the internet, watching TV, watching films I'd already seen, anything, even really boring stuff that under normal conditions I really wouldn't want to do, to avoid going back to stare at that Word document.
Now that I've finished the PhD I'm unemployed. To break the monotony of sitting on my posterior, I've actually managed to look for the occasional job. Somewhat paradoxically (idiotically?) I've mostly been applying to jobs that involve writing, organisation and multi-tasking, or all three together. This is not just because they're one of the main things that people coming out of my kind of PhD tend to go into, but also because I used to enjoy writing, I once used to be good at it. I've been getting job interviews, but I have no confidence (never have), and when I sit down in that interview room it's like someone's stuck me with a needle full of sodium pentothal - either the horrible truth is wheedled out of me, or I look so fantastically uncomfortable that even when I'm telling the bare-faced truth, it looks like I'm a guilty liar.
Despite recent evidence, I used to be fairly productive, just never well-organised. When I was doing the PhD I had a project to design and get done, and I was surrounded by people who were trying to get theirs done. I had no problem with staying at work all hours and coming in every weekend to do experiments (there was no one else there, but because it was a 'work environment' I just got on with it). In fact, even though things were often going wrong or going nowhere (par for the course) I still quite enjoyed the hands-on labwork, and the problem-solving side of reading the scientific literature (reading just for the sake of it though? Bleurgh!). My previous productivity may partly have come from the fact that I was a smoker, and my compulsiveness was channeled into smoking to some extent, so at that point all was well and I was able to do stuff. I have since given up, but I was failing to write the PhD before giving up smoking, so I can't blame it entirely on that.
I've always been deadline-driven. Usually I can't work on something unless I'm looking down the barrel of a deadline, but after my PhD something inside me seems to have snapped, and I can't even be bothered to meet deadlines. I started my PhD late in life as I took a break after the undergrad then started a "real" job in science, then my contract expired and I ended up stuck in crappy minimum-wage temping jobs for a long time. That was a bleak time in my life which I could have taken steps to make a lot easier for myself, but I can't ever seem to motivate myself to help myself - I get depressed at the drop of a hat, I never, ever, ever ask for help, and when I'm in a bad situation which I need to either do something about or remove myself from, I just grit my teeth and... sink like a stone. Now I'm entering a difficult job market, trying to change career paths with too many years behind me and not enough experience; the reason I'm not being as gung-ho about applying for jobs as I should be is not just because of the constant knock-backs, but because I've kind of had it up to here with competing. I've been delaying gratification for what feels like forever (working hard on the academic side of things) with the expectation that there would be a pay-off. I never knew what that pay-off might be, because I never had a defined aim in life. I never wanted to be a doctor/fireman/astronaut/international man of mystery when I was younger. I think a lot of my problem is that I've now lost faith that there will be /ever was a pay-off to be had, and I'm paralysed.
That's it. Sorry to be depressing... Oh, all right, I'll try and end on a positive note! :grin:
So I'm now here to commit to following those 12 steps and find a way to overcome that self-destructive urge. I am really glad I found this community, and very grateful that Pro set it all up. Good job that woman!