This morning was not a good one for me, brain chemistry-wise. In fact, mornings where I have to go to work are generally not very good. It occurred to me this morning as I sat in front of my laptop, knowing I should be getting ready for work but feeling the tight grip of anxiety keeping me sitting there, mornings are bad because I’m looking ahead at a day of possibilities and feeling anxious about all of those possibilities. Realizing that helped me talk myself into getting up and getting ready. And then another thought smacked me in the head, and a whole lifetime of habits and patterns became a whole lot clearer.
I have the Cult of Done Manifesto hanging in my cubicle at work. I like to imagine I’m taking inspiration from it, but in actual fact, I rarely practice what it preaches. My friends, family and coworkers know all too well what a procrastinator I am. I’m usually quite proud of my relaxed, procrastinating ways. But deep down, I’m often frustrated and ashamed at how I put things off and leave so many professional and personal projects half-finished (or finished, but not to the quality that I’d like).
I realized this morning that I don’t procrastinate because I’m “easy-going.” I don’t do it because I’m lazy. And I don’t do it because I’m scared of making mistakes or producing inferior work. I procrastinate because I’m anxious and terrified. Terrified of what? I don’t know. Failure? Success? Maybe I’m not really terrified of anything. Asking someone with anxiety, “What are you afraid of?” is like asking someone who suffers from depression, “What do you have to be sad about?” Or asking someone who’s lactose intolerant, “Why do you hate milk?” My brain chemistry isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing, so I feel anxious about the possibilities of things, so I put stuff off rather than confronting it head on.
Realizing this put so many things in perspective. Putting off writing fiction, not applying for jobs I could have applied for, not asking women out…all because I had this gut-level (or more accurately, brain-level) fear of simply doing it. A coworker gave me a copy of Getting Things Done recently. I’ve pish-poshed the GTD movement in the past, seeing it as “too corporate” and “too type-A.” But I’m reading the book seriously now, looking for ways to be less of a procrastinator. I think it will be a big help in dealing with my anxiety and getting past a lot of the fear that’s held me back for so long.