My eyes scan across the page. My eyebrows furrow as I desperately attempt to remember anything pertaining to what the question is asking. The book thumps as I toss it aside, uncompleted as I’m already reaching for the laptop. My eyes are blinking back tears.
My thought process? I can’t finish the homework-heck, I can barely begin it. Answering another question would be having to mark another question wrong later. How can I finish something when all that’s left to do after is find out how horribly I did?
For those of you who read my posts regularly, you know that I’ve made quite a few posts about procrastination. It’s been quite a problem in my life. But hopefully it hasn’t come across as whiny; I am making an attempt to discover the root of my problems and how to fix them. I believe that a large part of procrastination comes from not wanting to deal with failure.
I grew up believing that I was intelligent; in fact, I believed that I was very intelligent. I didn’t have that many friends, I wore glasses, I had braces, and most of my friends didn’t score or test as well as I did. All of those combined made me feel like quite a nerd, and as part of the package I considered myself smart. But as I got older, the classes became harder. In high school, I found people who not only did as well as myself, but better. I happened to become best friends with people who others regard as literally the smartest people in our grade. I was no longer on top.
The second horrible mix to the equation-I’m a very prideful person. I may write more about this later, but I absolutely loathe showing weakness to anyone. I always try to hide sadness or immaturity, and for some reason I can’t stand letting others know if I’m suffering. Maybe I feel that it makes me pathetic. Maybe I feel that I lose some dignity or self-worth, or that I become something to pity if I’m weak in any way.
So when I’m faced with challenges in school that I don’t think I can overcome, my pride takes over and I simply stop trying. Some part of my brain is saying, isn’t it easier to never try than to look someone in the eye and be forced to tell them that I’ve failed? That I couldn’t do it? That I wasn’t smart enough, or adequate enough, to do what others can?
When other students can finish a homework assignment in 30 minutes that takes me an hour to do, I feel like an idiot. I beat myself up over having to struggle longer and harder on what others can do with ease. For some reason, a part of me equates time and effort to intelligence. If I’m staring work in the face that I’m having trouble understanding, I avoid it rather than attempt it. If I actually try at something, it’s giving others the ability to see my weak spots and potentially judge me for them. It’s like a clear road map of right and wrongs answers for others, saying “hey, this is what you’re better than me at”.
Part of this problem has morphed from the way the education system has been structured, and part of it is simply from my own insecurity problems. But finding a flaw is the first step to fixing it. I know deep down that intelligence isn’t the most important thing in the world. But in our society, it’s insanely difficult to avoid stimuli that do nothing but reaffirm that myth. I also know that getting jealous of others or upset that others are better at something I used to pride myself on is ridiculously pompous and, well, douchy. So here’s to hoping that bit by bit, I’ll truly accept that my self-worth is not defined by a letter or a number, but that I’ll be darned if I keep stopping myself from learning.