Want to know what my super power would be if I was a superhero? To be able to perform my best under stress and pressure. Okay, yes, I know kind of lame in comparison to being able to fly (would save travelling long haul next to a fidget/ person who snores loudly) or X-Ray vision (because perving through somebody’s clothes does sound fun…) but damn, it’s practical. And it’s even more practical if when you have habits like taking on a bit too much work AND leaving things to the last minute. If anything, it’s got to a point where I actually sort of thrive off doing it.
When I first started writing this blog post I was in the midst of a back-to-back week where I didn’t even have time to get my travel jabs sorted, somewhere around having a total OH MY GOD I HAVE NO TIME TO EVEN EAT OR BREATHE style breakdown, but thought that writing this post was a far more appropriate use of time. And right now, I’m sat on holiday in Cambodia, picking up where I left off writing, in a totally separate hotel to my friends who are out drinking the night away, because I simply needed to get away and crack on with the mountainous pile of work I still haven’t attended to yet. So I’m sitting here writing a blog post about stress and pressure instead of productively dealing with said stress and pressure by doing my work. (In fairness, even this blog post was left until the last minute today, but luckily because of the time difference, I’m 6 hours ahead so it’s still going to be published ahead of schedule. Yas!)
In university, you usually had two types of people. The sensible ones who do their coursework and exam prep and dissertations weeks and months in advance, handing in their work with a couple of hours (or if you’re really weird, days) to spare. Then you had the others… the ones who would leave their work until two nights – or THE night – before it’s due when they finally get the “oh fuuuuuuuuuuuck” fear, pull an all nighter, almost have a coffee-induced heart attack, and a complete breakdown when none of your housemates have ink in their printers and you’ve ran out of printing credits for the library. Hazard a guess as to which one I am?
In fact, this stems way back before university. It was the same at school with my exams. My mother would storm in my room and find me on Sims or MySpace (both excellent time wasters), then proceed to put on her yelling voice to ask why I wasn’t revising. The truth was, I could never perform anything unless I was under pressure. So I let the pressure build up until I almost crack – and somehow it just works. For good and for worse. Yes, I lose my mind and get short tempered, but somewhere amongst the madness and 2am phone calls to the pizza delivery man (bc who got time to cook?) I come up with my best ideas.
I can never see myself learning to be one of those sensible types, and in a job like blogging, when you can suddenly have 5 campaigns flung at you all at once, you have to learn to work in that ultra pressurised way, or simply say no to the work. And saying no to work is very difficult when you’re self-employed. Science totally has my back with this too, and studies have said that those who actively leave things to the last minute display certain levels of self-reliance, autonomy, and self-confidence because we’re aware of the risk of subjecting ourselves to last-minute pressures and still consciously decide to do it anyway. And others have said it can also come from a fear of failure – if you put something off to the last minute it means it’s easier to blame it on your procrastination instead of blaming it on yourself (and I’ve definitely mentioned my fear of fucking things up in the past)
It’s also been noted that for children with strict parents, this was a form of rebellion. Whilst I’d never say my parents were strict, they were very over protective and I was very good in school, and nothing quite whispers f*ck the system! quite like leaving an essay to the last minute, no?
But, if I really really put my sensible head on for just a second, you simply can’t live forever this way. I’ve written before about being busy and the importance of taking a break – and it’s this kind of non-stop attitude which makes taking your foot off the pedal, if only for a little bit, so satisfying (although also kind of terrifying too – when you’re used to being a little hamster on the wheel it’s very hard to slow down). So if you’re anything like me, who secretly loves this kind of stress, you have to remember that whilst your super power might just be to nail anything under pressure, that you aren’t actually super hero, and you have to learn to chill for the sake of your overheated head.
BRB gonna room service me a brownie