By Ramona Pilar Gonzales
“There is no such thing as perfection.” Yet people are always waiting for it: they long for it, desire it; expect everyone else to be the living incarnation of it. But it never, ever appears. Like those promises made by parents to their children they never intend to keep, perfection is a theory, a myth that we believe exists because someone told us it did. Because someone has been telling that to someone else since there was anything to tell. For the swimmers and strivers perfection is a beacon guiding them to do their absolute best regardless of the fact that they will never be perfect. These people are content with using some self determined “ideal” in order to motivate and encourage them. And they constantly and consistently do their best. And they tend to do it on time.
I am not one of these people. I am of another group of individuals whom Perfection taunts like the phantom voices of childhood bullies.
I am a procrastinator.
“Oh come now. Everyone procrastinates now and again,” you may say. “Of course people put things off. No one can take care of everything right now. It’s impossible! Cut yourself some slack!” You would be right. Judges do it. Schoolteachers do it. Chefs do it. Of course, they do.
Okay, brace yourselves. I’m pulling out the “Art” card. (Just walk with me). It may seem like calling oneself an “artist” is a euphemism lazy, inconsiderate people come up with to justify their actions. Especially if they claim the Artist set and don’t actually produce a whole lot of art. As such, procrastination can get to be a very tricky chemical when one has taken on the task of claiming “The Arts” as their set, and declared oneself an actual artist. For example, “But what’s ‘a lot’ of work? Should I champion Quantity over Quality to justify my life choice to the world? Should one chase mediocrity just to be in the shell game?!”
Melodramatic perhaps. But no less true.
Call it “waiting for inspiration.” “Calling the muses.” “Getting in touch with the universe.” “Channeling the ancestors.” Call it what you will, it still looks like you are gazing at the wall of your cubicle, eyes glazed over, drool forming at the corner of your mouth, in a trance, remembering the joy and excitement of not being at your cubicle as you try to draft a version of story way past it’s deadline, at the office job where you steal time to write because it’s not yet your job. And why isn’t it your job yet? You’ve read acres of books, lined landfills with discarded drafts of thousands of opuses, you’re much better than that other person, you know, your friend, The Hack who gets by on diluted first drafts, and choppy seconds, who doesn’t care about prose and language as you, yet SOMEHOW (because the world is cruel and baby Jesus hates you) has a career. A CAREER! While you are stuck in a tower drooling on your keyboard.
And why? They’re not better than you. You know this. You could be doing what they’re doing if you wanted to. And you do want to. So why don’t you?
Because it won’t be perfect. So why even bother trying?
Procrastinators aren’t lazy, selfish, disrespectful, disorganized, inconsiderate, terribly evil people. They’re caring people. They care a lot. They care so much that the thought of disappointing people or themselves is debilitating. The thought of failure is tantamount to a metaphysical missile deployed straight to their very core of existence.
Of the myriad plethora of articles on the internet discussing procrastination, they all seem to agree on a single solution, whatever the task is at hand, no matter how much planning you do, it doesn’t matter unless you take action. The big advice is to “just do it.” If it were that easy, we probably would.
And what solution do I offer to the behemoth sarlaac that is you, The Internet? Only that it’s important to remember that messing up and making mistakes are going to happen. And that being perfect, or even being afraid of perfection, isn’t a whole lot of fun. And neither were those childhood bullies.