It’s Finals Week for my son. I have to say, while there are a lot of things about college life that I would like to relive, Finals Week is not among them. How many of you still wake up in a cold sweat occasionally due to a nightmare about Finals Week — like, the one where you forgot you signed up for a class and missed it all semester, but here you are, taking the final exam on a subject you know nothing about? Or the one where you’re desperately roaming through a maze of a building trying to find the classroom the final is being given in? These are dreams that still haunt me, decades after graduating from college.
But Finals Week itself is not just a dream that you can wake up from. It’s a real-life nightmare that you have to power through, and–no pressure, but–sometimes your whole GPA is dependent on it. It’s a week filled with caffeine and all-nighters and stress and self-doubt. It sucks. And if you have roommates who finish their finals a couple days before you do, it sucks even more.
Yes, I feel for my son this week. So, perhaps it is an unconscious gesture of solidarity for me to find myself here right now. I’m supposed to be writing an article for a publication, with the deadline fast approaching. I’ve done all the legwork, interviewed a few people, transcribed some notes. Now it’s time to put it all together. But what am I doing instead? Let’s see… Cleaning out my email inbox, matching socks, online shopping for Ugly Christmas Sweaters, making a new Christmas playlist, watching Long Island Medium (celebrity edition), writing this blog post… You know, absolutely everything except sitting down to write the article. Perhaps I really will be reliving my college days come tomorrow night, when I might need to buy myself a bottle of Vivarin (do they still make that?) and pull an all-nighter to get this thing turned in on time.
Yep, I perfected the art of procrastination in college, and I guess I’m still pretty darn good at it. That is something that becomes super apparent at this time of year. You are surely familiar with the classic small-talk question for December: “Are you all ready for Christmas?” If someone asks me that before December 23rd, I just look at them like they are totally insane. Because they obviously are. I mean, come on. That’s why God gave us Amazon Prime and free 2-day shipping, right?
It’s really not their fault. Blame it on a society that created a monster called The Hallmark Channel, that starts showing Christmas movies before Halloween. Blame it on Mr. Eddie Bauer, who sent me a catalog that screamed the panic-inducing words “LAST MINUTE GIFT GUIDE” on its cover, which I received on December 2nd. December 2nd! If you think starting Christmas shopping on December 2nd is “last minute,” I’m sorry to inform you, you are off your rocker. And I am NOT going to go there with you.
Yes, I think I kind of feel sorry for those of you who already have your Christmas presents all wrapped and set out under your tree, your Christmas cards sent out, your cookies baked, etc. Did you know that there are actual psychological studies that show that people who procrastinate are optimists? And there are also studies that prove that optimists tend to live longer than pessimists?
So, my fellow procrastinators, relax and take heart. The next time someone asks you, in a well-meaning but lame attempt at small talk, “Do you have your Christmas shopping done yet?” you can answer proudly: “Haven’t even started. But I’m going to live longer than you!”