When I was a senior in high school, I was voted the most optimistic member of my class—which was AWESOME. Unfortunately, I was also voted the biggest procrastinator. At the time, I thought that the procrastination title was pretty funny. You see, procrastination didn’t bother me. I had one of the highest GPA’s in my class, and being heralded as the biggest procrastinator just meant that I could successfully accomplish great work in half the time it took many others. I felt the title was a badge of honor.
When I entered college, I still thought procrastination was all right. I swaggered through my days confident in my ability to crank out A+ work on a tight schedule. I was convinced that procrastination was a sign that I was in control and extremely capable. I was so convinced that procrastination was acceptable that I even wrote a college paper extolling its benefits.
In her note, my professor didn’t pull any punches. She said that procrastination was a sign of gross irresponsibility. She said that by doing last-minute work, I was cheating myself, my peers, and my professors. She said I wasn’t giving my best effort and that she couldn’t respect anything less than my best. She said she was very disappointed in me.
Wow!!! Her words stung. But they also woke me up. HARD.
After that, I began putting extreme effort into my assignments. I SLAVED over them. I spent days agonizing over them. In fact, the minute I had an assignment, I started it. I didn’t want anything hanging over my head. I didn’t want to feel that I wasn’t giving my best effort.
As the years passed, this “MUST DO IMMEDIATELY” mentality stayed with me. I didn’t feel comfortable going to sleep at night unless everything on my “to do” list was checked off. Unfortunately, checking off every task was fairly impossible to do. I began putting myself under extreme stress. If I left any task undone, I felt like the worst idiot on the planet. As I kept trying—and failing—I began to feel like an utter failure. My self-confidence took a nosedive, and my outlook on life became grim.
What was wrong with me? That’s simple. I was VERY out of balance.
When I became ill, I spent seven years in quarantine. Although quarantine was horrible, in a strange way, it was also very therapeutic. You see, quarantine taught me that the world would keep spinning, and life would keep happening, even if I was sidelined. Quarantine taught me that—believe it or not—I wasn’t the center of the universe. Of course, realizing that I wasn’t essential to the spinning of the planet was quite humbling for me. It felt very lowering. However, it also took a TON of pressure off my shoulders. As the years slipped by, and as I began to get a more realistic perspective of my place in the world, I began realizing that obsessive striving was just as wrong as procrastination. I began to realize that I needed to be somewhere in between the two.
Today, I try VERY HARD to find balance in what I do. I’m not going to say that I always succeed, but I try to view my “to do” list in a realistic fashion. Through painful experience, I’ve learned that life shouldn’t be spent in avoiding tasks, but neither should it be spent obsessing over them.
During quarantine, Philippians 4:5-7 seemed to shine like a beacon light in my life. “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” When I memorized those verses, I looked up the word moderation in the dictionary. Simply put, it means, “avoiding extremes.”
In this crazy life of mine, I’ve learned that extremes are dangerous things. They hurt my health. They cut up my peace. They strain my relationships. I’ve spent years trying to find balance because I believe balance is a very important goal. In Philippians 4:5-7, God instructs us to be moderate. He tells us to stop worrying. He tells us to talk to Him. He says He will send us peace. I think that is a wonderful message to embrace. I think that being in balance and basking in God’s peace is a wonderful way to live.