Expectation and Procrastination: A Vicious Cycle

I’m in the middle of my 15th year of school. That’s 15 first days of school, 15 syllabus weeks, 15 excited jitters to start something new. That’s 15 times that I’ve told myself that if I hunker down and work hard, I’ll excel on all levels. That’s 14 times I’ve told myself that this year will be better than the last.

Freshman year, I didn’t miss one class. I couldn’t even understand the concept of skipping class— “You mean … you purposely don’t go? What if you miss something?” The idea of paying $60,000 a year for an education that you voluntarily hinder seemed incredibly stupid, ungrateful, and counter-intuitive to me.

In the past two weeks, I’ve missed six classes. Six. Some, because I’ve slept in. Others, because I had other work I wanted to get done. Not one of those was crippling to my grade in that class, or to my education as a whole. Not one. Many, however, put together in a short period of time like that, is.

Everyone slips around this time. We’re at that point in the semester where the first tests that we underestimated have been handed back, the first papers that we didn’t spend enough time on have been handed in, and the first grades that we are sure we can improve upon next time are somewhere on our transcripts.

Throughout the week, I commit a collective 60 hours to extracurricular activities and work—not unlike many of my peers. Classes have become a thing I do on a side here at Boston College, and are by no means the thing I set my goals around or adjust my schedule to.

That’s crazy. That’s a waste of the money, time, and energy that it took me to get into this school. And yet, it’s a slump I’ve fallen into and cannot get out of. Just like the slump I fell into last year when I started writing my 10-page essays the day before they were due. Just like the slump I fell into senior year of high school when I did all of my homework for the day during second-period study hall. Just like the slump I fell into in 8th grade when I stopped outlining the chapters of assigned reading.

It’s an unbreakable pattern that I’m convinced I’ll break time and time again.

So, who’s to blame? The obvious answer would be me. I’m the one falling short of these simple goals. I’m the one who has decided that sleep is more important than attending my 9 a.m. I’m the one who still hasn’t started my 12-page paper due on Wednesday. But I’m a student at Boston College, so of course I’m about to find a way to blame this on something else.

It’s a combination of things. It’s the weather—though that’s a hard argument to make during this year’s 50-degree February. It’s the unreasonable expectations put on students to excel in both academics and extracurriculars—a song you’ve heard sung a thousand times. It’s the positive affirmation of being students of BC constantly coming our way that swells our self-confidence. It’s a feasibility of looking at a new year, or a new semester, and saying firmly to yourself: this one’ll be different.

Maybe you’re different. Maybe every school year for you has been better than the last. Maybe you only improve academically as the semester goes on. Maybe you love learning and hate sleeping.

But for the rest of us, for the people who make promises they know they can’t keep every September and January, we’d better watch out, because I can feel midterm season creeping up on us and slowly tightening its grasp around our throats.

To quote the infamous Rubeus Hagrid: there’s a storm coming—we all best be ready when she does.

Featured Image by Abby Paulson and Kelsey McGee / Heights Editors

Maddie Phelps

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