My name is Jenika McCrayer and I’m a procrastinator. The say the first step to overcoming any problem is admitting you have one. So, here I am, admitting that I’m a procrastinator.
But first, I must admit: I even procrastinated writing this article.
I woke up today with every intention to spend the whole day writing, but instead I:
—Went to a bookstore and bought two more books to languish on my shelf with the rest of my half-read collection.
—Went to Target to unwind. I could have gotten Lysol wipes and toilet bowl cleaner at the bodega that’s literally across the street from my apartment, but I choose to ride the five subway stops to Target.
—Came home and did laundry, and folded it.
—Started one of the books I shouldn’t have bought. I’m almost done.
And just when I was about to treat myself with a manicure for having such a “productive” day, I reminded myself that this was all a clever ploy to avoid something that really mattered to me.
Getting this article done actually mattered, and was a priority. But for whatever reason, every time I sat down at my computer to write, I’d be intimidated by the blank word document. I would already feel like I failed, so I never bothered to start.
Procrastination has plagued me all of my life. I’m a perfectionist and an overachiever, but that is ultimately because I fear failure. I was brought up to be the best—I was told that as a black woman, I would have to work twice as hard to get half as much as my white and male counterparts.
So whenever I’m tasked with an assignment in my academic or work life, I know it has to be good. No, not good, great. I’m paralyzed with fear with the expectation I place on myself to always be the best and single-handedly crush all stereotypes about Black women (superhuman, nurturing, mammy, lazy, welfare queens, unintelligent—the list is infinite).
What if my work is less than stellar? What if I don’t get it right the first time? What if I have to make revisions?!
Why even start?
The truth is, when I usually wait until the last minute to do anything that is important to me, it’s because I spent days leading up to the deadline immobilized by a fear of failure.
I procrastinate because I don’t want to be rejected. I procrastinate because I care.
In the new year, I’m going to try harder to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and allow myself to be messy and make mistakes. But I’m only human and I will not allow anyone or even myself to get hung up over my shortcomings. I will strive to accept that not everything needs to be exactly right the first time.
I’m excited to start this journey. On time.