Thursday, January 22, 2009

my fatal flaw

Most good books feature flawed characters. Sometimes these failings can be fatal, other times they just present more obstacles for the hero to overcome. But either way, those weaknesses are there to create tension and make the character more human. Because whether or not your life story is as dramatic as a paperback novel, everyone is flawed. Some more than others, but I just want to talk about one of my flaws today. I was reminded of it yesterday.

My foible is stress. Not so much the feeling of stress, because sometimes it can actually be a positive motivating force for me-- many times my best work has been accomplished during crunch time. No, instead it is my reaction to stress. The ragged nails, chronic snacking, crawling into bed to hide from the duties/responsibilities hanging over my head... Those are just some of my symptoms of stress. But perhaps my worst knee-jerk reaction to pressure overload is:

Procrastination. Yup, guilty as charged. I will put off anything until whatever it is absolutely cannot wait one. more. second. Why do I do this? I don't know. Bad habit I guess, learned from childhood. 

You see, I have been living with stress my entire life. And much of it is self-inflicted. I can remember my second grade teacher telling my mother during a parent-teacher conference that I was "stressed out." Stressed out at 7 years old?

Part of the explanation for being stressed out, then and now, is my tendency toward perfectionism (another fatal flaw?). While I will admit that I most definitely procrastinate because I am lazy or would rather watch TV than work, there are other times when I put things off because I am afraid of failing. Afraid of not living up to expectations. Both my own and others.

The thing about stress-induced procrastination is, it's a vicious cycle. The more you procrastinate, the more stressed you become, and the thing you are avoiding doing seems even more impossible to do. Essentially, procrastination just leads to more procrastination. That's my Catch-22, to use a literary reference.

Obviously, I do get things done, proof that I eventually overcome the stress and just get down to business. But I would like to skip that whole awful procrastination part and just use my stress as a productive and powerful fuel to do whatever life calls for. Is that too much to ask?

Maybe I should buy the Keep Calm and Carry On poster-- which is interestingly a WW2 British propaganda slogan--to remind me not to freak out.

Tell me, how do you handle stress? How do you beat procrastination? And what is your "fatal flaw?" 

Image via FAK3R

1 comment:

amric1409 said...

I'm similar to you in some aspects about the procrastination thing. I used to be really bad for it when it came to exercise, so for the last 13 months I've been working very hard at turning it into a habit and I think for the most part I've succeeded. I tend to procrastinate a bit when it comes to school, I'm not too bad with doing assignments but I'm terrible when it comes to studying. I HATE studying. I will put off studying until the very last minute before a test and then stress myself out trying to cram for it. Bad habit, I know! My 'fatal flaw'? Hmmm. That's a tough one, I'll have to mull over it for a while and get back to you :-)