Lists About Procrastination

Sometimes I can be really good at procrastinating.

 

Like, very, very good at it.

 

And then I’ll feel bad about it, but I’ll keep on procrastinating.

 

It’s only natural for a high school student like me, right?

 

I’ve learned are plenty of ways to convince myself that I’m not procrastinating. I’m just doing “other stuff.” Stuff like:

Reading fan fiction

Reading the news

Reading blogs

Reading shampoo bottles

Watching YouTube

Watching a movie

Watching a spider crawl across the ceiling

Writing stories

Writing poems

Writing a novel

Writing something for this blog

Writing about how much I hate high school

Sleeping

Pretending to sleep

Eating

Hanging out with my friends

Playing with my sister

Thinking about life

Thinking about how I should stop procrastinating

Dreaming

 

I’ve also amassed quite a collection of excuses for procrastinating.

 

Usually I’ll say something like:

I have a headache.

I’m tired.

I’m eating.

I’m sleeping.

I’m talking with Anna about something really important.

I need to watch Tyler Oakley’s new video.

This isn’t due for another two days. I can do it tomorrow.

I can finish it tonight.

There’s plenty of time left.

I’m trying to kill the spider on my ceiling.

I have to go to Beth’s house. It’s important.

I finished all my homework yesterday (not at all).

I don’t have any homework today.

I have to fix my car.

I first have to go buy a car.

Just kidding, I need to go get my license.

I need to fix my hair

I need to fix my face.

I need to get a life.

 

It’s pretty bad.

 

And amidst all this procrastination, what I should really be doing is:

Finishing my homework

Studying for that calculus final coming up on Tuesday

Getting ahead on the history project

Writing my English essay

Reading Shakespeare

Taking out the trash

Doing the laundry

Cleaning my room

Preparing for my internship interview

Looking for a job

Studying for SATs

Learning Spanish

Learning physics

Learning how to get into college

Learning how to not procrastinate

High School is Not Pretty

When I was younger—around the time I first started grade school, give or take a few years—I thought that high school was going to be magical: large, sprawling campus; beautiful buildings; and spacious classrooms. But then again, at that age, I thought everything was going to be magical. Unfortunately, nothing was magical, and nothing was ever going to be magical, least of all a high school campus.

On the first day of freshman year, I walked towards the main building, which looked ancient and, frankly, seemed like it was about to fall apart. The originally white (now it was more of a pale brownish-yellow color) paint was scratched, there were cracks all along the outer walls, and chunks of the red brick roof were now on the ground.

I hesitated outside the front entrance (the dark green paint here was also scratched and peeling), scared that if I pulled open the door, it would somehow cause the entire building to collapse. Kind of like in Jenga, when you remove that final block that determines the fate of the rest of the structure.

Luckily, I didn’t have to make a choice, because right at that moment, someone from behind shoved me forward and pulled open the door. The main hallway was crowded with students who somehow all managed to be at least a foot taller than me. (Some where sitting down against the wall, but I could just tell that when they stood up, they’d be like eight feet tall or something.) The lighting was terrible: it was very dim, and one light was flickering like in a horror movie. Like, thank you very much—high school is already terrifying enough without that extra horror movie feel to it.

I grumpily weaved my way in and out of the mass of students, some of which were running back and forth playing some ball game, others who were just chatting, and even a couple who was having an extremely explicit make out session in the corner. Lovely. I was supposed to be going to room 42, which was my first period English class, but all I had managed to accomplish was getting lost in this not-even-very-big school. (Now that takes some skill.)

Finally, after about seven minutes of wandering back and forth between the broken and stained white walls while trying to convince myself that I wasn’t in a horror movie (it was too loud for any phantoms to be around anyways), I finally gathered up the courage to ask someone for help. Of course, that was when the bell rang, and everyone else scrambled off to class, seeming to know exactly where they were going.

Well this was going to be a pleasant four years.

Great Expectations

Stanford acceptance rate in 2000: 13.2 percent; about 18,400 students applied. In 2005, this former number decreased to 11.9 percent; the latter increased to 20,200. By 2010, the acceptance rate was down to 7.2 percent, while the number of applicants had increased by more than 50% to over 32,000. And this year, there were nearly 42,200 applicants. Only 5.07 percent of them were accepted, reported as “the lowest admit rate in University history” (The Stanford Daily). While this does not absolutely prove that students’ expectations have risen over the last few years, it does show trends that likely result from this increase.

I definitely feel that, as a high school sophomore myself, expectations for students in middle school, in high school, and perhaps even in elementary school, have increased significantly over the last decade. Of course, this would be expected; however, sometimes I wonder: have they increased too much?

I think that many students nowadays have expectations that are much too high to be realistic. And I think parents’ expectations are, somehow or another, even higher. We are expected to take more AP and honors classes. We are expected to maintain top-notch grades. We are expected to have a lot of extracurriculars, and to excel in them as well. And, of course, we are expected to get into good colleges.

And I feel that these students, themselves, feel that they will be able to achieve these things. This is reflected in the increase in people taking AP tests, the increase of special classes to help students score better on standardized tests, and, of course, the increase in applicants to prestigious colleges. But the truth is, while many truly do have the potential to succeed, many more are just pushing themselves too far beyond their limits. Their expectations for themselves are too high. Their parents’ expectations are too high.

Take my friend for example. He is taking four AP classes this year, which, for many people, isn’t a problem. But for him, it is. However, his parents pressured him into it. He thought he could succeed, too; he was so confident about it at the beginning of the year. Let’s just say that his plans went slightly awry. Every night he has so many extracurriculars and so much homework, that he makes up his sleep during class. And now he is failing out of three of the four classes. Why? There was too much pressure; there were too high expectations.

Now, this isn’t to say that I am trying to attack him or anything; he is my friend, after all. And I know that some people are, in fact, able to handle multiple AP classes on top of five or six extracurricular activities. But not everyone is, and this clearly shows that many students nowadays are either forced into doing things that they are not capable of, or they have somehow become disillusioned to the fact that they are able to do more than they can actually handle. And while I do admire many of those applicants to Stanford, I think that some people just need to learn their limits. And some parents need to learn that Stanford is not the only path in life.

A large part of this, I think, is due to stereotyping. I think that many people have this mindset that the majority of students who are accepted into Ivy Leagues are highly academically oriented, meaning that they are involved in nearly every on-campus academic club there is. They also participate in Science Fair, have hundreds of hours of community service, hold a job, play a sport, and perhaps even an instrument. And this causes everyone to think that they have to do all those exact things to get into Harvard, or Yale, or Harvard of the West Coast. Even worse, parents get the mindset that their kids have to emulate those Princeton or Columbia-bound seniors. They expect their kids to emulate those Princeton or Columbia-bound seniors. I know from personal experience.

Of course, this definitely isn’t to say that all students have such high expectations for themselves, and certainly not all parents put so much pressure on their kids. But I feel that this trend is becoming more and more apparent, at least where I live. And I must also address the fact that perhaps many students who have such great expectations for themselves really do have the potential to reach those expectations. I do not doubt it at all. But not everyone falls under that category.

Personally, I think that it is a good thing to set high expectations. It gives people a goal to work to, and it forces them to work hard to achieve it. It is only when those aspirations are set too high, and those people are physically and mentally struggling to reach them, that I feel like saying, “Why waste your time?” And I am getting that feeling a lot more now, what with all my friends preparing for junior year and all, and about 90 percent of them stressing about school at least six times in any given day.

I certainly have my own expectations. I expect to work hard and get good grades. I expect to succeed in doing what I love. I expect to go to a decent college. I expect to wake up tomorrow and see that the sky has not fallen yet. But I do not expect myself to try and take a class that I know I cannot handle. I do not expect to achieve my aspirations without putting in hard work. I do not expect to get into all the Ivy League schools just because I expect it. Oh, and I do not expect the sky to fall down just because one thing in life did not turn out the way I had planned.

The thing is: we all have great expectations. We just need to learn to know and recognize our limits.

Note: I apologize for deviating from the topic quite a bit and going on a hundred different tangents; hopefully I didn’t completely butcher this week’s topic. The minds of high schoolers are quite all over the place, you see. Or perhaps it’s just me.