It was 2 p.m., and I sat, watching my father polish off his second glass of wine.
He wiped his beard and remarked, “Well, I can’t finish decorating the living room, can I? Your mother doesn’t like the mess.”
He’s said this one hundred times before, and I always sympathised with him until this day. As I traced my eyes along the stud-covered walls that were screaming out to be plastered and painted, I realised there weren’t any reasons for this pitiful living room—only excuses. And it’s genetic.
You see, I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator of the highest order. Instead of writing that article that’s due tomorrow, I am instead reorganising my freezer and printing off labels for all of my Tupperware. What? It’s important! I appear to be organised in every area of my life instead of my professional profile, and it’s a killer.
Most days, I find myself at the mercy of my own mind. Honestly, it’s like a prison cell in here. Every night I wake up at 3 a.m. hurling abuse at myself for not doing better.
“Please don’t, not tonight. Please.”
I plea with myself, as if my conscience is an unwanted, returning visitor. Until the sun rises, I make plans, lists, mental databases of all of the things I am going to achieve that day. But I can’t. I just can’t.
Not only am I exhausted from yet another night of tossing and turning, I just can’t seem to get my mind out of first gear. What makes my mental block even worse is that this is something that appears to be getting worse with age.
As a young teen, I was a driven, aspiring doctor who religiously practiced her cello and completed her homework every night. I loved the feeling of finishing my work before the rest of my class and receiving that hard-earned pat-on-the-back from my teachers. The pride on my parents’ faces when I brought home my glowing report cards was yet another testament to my determined and ambitious mindset.
Now, I struggle to get out of bed by any certain time. Social media takes up an inordinate chunk of my day, checking on all of my old classmates and seeing how much better they are doing compared to me. I set myself embarrassingly easy goals each day and, 95 percent of the time, I fail to meet them. I get angry about opportunities not presenting themselves to me, but I then get even angrier for not creating them myself.
I have all of the technology, and I know how to launch a successful career in the media industry, but I just can’t seem to find the motivation or drive. I know the media industry is where I belong, so it’s not a matter of lack of passion. There is no other job in the world I would rather pursue (apart from maybe one of those Kim Kardashian jobs where you get paid for just existing), and I dream of the day I get that phone call offering me a lifeline, giving me purpose once again.
What’s wrong with me?
Does it lie in my genes? Did it happen when I met my boyfriend? Or was it the grind of life and personal turmoil that robbed me of my enthusiasm and belief that I am worth a damn?
A mix of all three, as it turns out.
When I was 17 (almost 10 years ago), I met the boy of my dreams. My first proper boyfriend. Within a matter of weeks, I knew this was the person I was destined to marry. But, as the cliché goes, I lost focus. I almost completely lost my identity. A dangerous concept, given this was one of the things he claimed to have loved most about me. My tenacity and determination fell by the wayside as I became consumed by my relationship.
Sure, I finished university and managed to buy a home, but somewhere along the line, I forgot to prioritise myself and develop my career in music and journalism like I was supposed to. The more I forget to push, the harder it becomes.
As well as this, I have had a turbulent life. To spare you the details, I’ll paint a vague picture. My family life was questionable, with a number of “key” relatives walking out on me. I never received the nurturing most children were given, and I think that’s left me cold to the touch in a lot of ways. I faced bullying, betrayal, and abandonment—not to mention a whole load of sh*t luck. It all changed me. I became anxious; a perfectionist; so highly strung that one stern glance would make me snap.
The thought of trying something and failing—or worse—being laughed at, made me lose all hope. Why try? Why fail? I don’t deserve success.
As I sit in awkward silence with my father, a man I used to have long and intellectual conversations with, I feel an air of mutual understanding between us. We both knew why the living room was still a half decorated mess, much in the same way we both knew why I can’t seem to get my feet planted on the ground.
We both have the exact same fatal flaw.
Day by day, I am pushing myself to recreate the energy my younger self once had. No matter how detached or depressed I’m feeling that day, I am completing that article or I am starting that feature. It would be all too easy for me to point the finger at my family or surroundings and blame them for my epic downfall. When really, the issue lies in my head.
The more positive situations you create for yourself, the more you will begin to see changes; and change is addictive. Put down your phones and realise that procrastination is not something to be laughed at in a meme or in any way ignored. It is the silent career killer and once it sets in, it’s all-out warfare to get rid of it.
No matter how low you get just remember, your situation is only temporary and could be the perfect time for a growth spurt.