Temporary Moments of Clarity

At 6:20am, when my sadistic alarm clock began blaring and I slowly arose from the dismal 5-hour nap I call a full night’s sleep, I felt broken. I was both physically and emotionally drained and I couldn’t find any merits to leaving my bed and beginning my day.

I started to question all of the facets of my life that I had once been certain about. “Whys” and “What ifs” permeated my thoughts: “Why am I putting myself through this? What if I fail my exam tomorrow? What if I fail at life? What if I let my parents down? What if I graduate with no job offers? What if I can’t pay back my debt? Why am I here?”

When I realized that I had no answers to these questions, I decided to go back to sleep for a bit and try this wake-up thing again. Hopefully, 40 minutes would be enough time to help me find the “right” side of the bed.

And it was. I woke up with a renewed sense of purpose and this intrinsic, almost divine reassurance that everything would turn out fine, as it always had. I had this overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t in this alone; That a being far stronger and mightier than myself was looking out for me, having only my best interest in mind. My faith was renewed.

In this temporary moment of clarity, I remembered a quote that described my situation perfectly:

“In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed.”

The things that had been weighing down so heavily on my heart and mind seemed so small compared to the good fortune that I sometimes forget I’ve been blessed with. So, I stopped focusing on the negatives in my life and started focusing on the positives. And was I surprised to find that the good things outnumbered the bad in blowout proportions!

It became clear to me then that life is all about perspective. What may seem like the worst thing to ever happen to you could very well be a blessing in disguise. You just have to look on the bright side. After all, if you only focus on the rain, you might miss the rainbow.

Pitfalls of ‘Productive Procrastination’

(Originally published to the Cornell Alumni Magazine Student Blog on Oct. 26, 2012.)

Procrastination is the vice of every college student I know. The urge to spend hours watching YouTube videos of laughing babies, playing Tetris, or napping can be very strong when your other option is writing a twenty-page paper on whale communication.

But what about neglecting one assignment in favor of another? Or cleaning your room and editing your resume instead of finishing your required reading? In these instances, you’re doing something useful with your time—just not necessarily what you ought to be doing at that moment. This is the essence of what I call “productive procrastination” and, unfortunately, I’m a pro at it.

My struggle with productive procrastination has gotten much more difficult to manage since becoming an upperclassman. Because I’m involved in so many activities and have a more rigorous course load, I can always think of at least ten things I could be working on, in place of what I should be working on.

The fact that productive procrastination can sometimes be justified makes it quite the conundrum. First off, it’s exponentially better than unproductive procrastination (doing something useless). And in some situations, productive procrastination can actually be appropriate. For example, if you’re stuck on an assignment you could benefit from taking a break, working on something else, and returning to it with a fresh perspective.

That being said, one thing to keep in mind about productive procrastination is that, however you slice it, it’s still procrastination. So even though you may be able to reorganize your closet, map out your five-year career plan, or write a short story in the time you took off from your assignment, be warned: that whale paper will still be waiting for you. Only now, you’ll have even less time to finish it.