Stop Being Such A Spineless Git!

In an effort not to ever inadvertently offend Dr. C, her imaginary wrath against me has started to creep into other parts of my school life.  I find that homework is suddenly much harder in my other classes, because there I am forced to take a stand, to make myself vulnerable to attack by putting my views out in the open.  And logically I know that I am in safe environments there; I know that if I screw something up, it’s not the end of the world, as it were, but only a minor setback, and thus a possible learning experience.

But deep down I wonder if my other professors don’t also feel the same way, only they have other ways of expressing those thoughts that I just haven’t caught onto yet.

I keep trying to think to myself my mother’s old adage regarding papers.  She’s an English professor btw.  As she has always said to me, “A bad paper is better than no paper.”

Yet here I find myself, facing my old demon “Perfection,” whom I thought I had conquered somewhat in the past, and learning instead that those years standing up to it meant nothing at all.  Fear of failure comes largely from being in an environment where there is a reason to fear it, due to prior knowledge of what happens when one does.  Fear of failure comes from having been shown that to make a mistake means that I am just not trying hard enough, that I am not being enough to get it right.  It comes from being in an environment that does not allow for accidents, mistakes, or wayward thoughts–no matter how inadvertent they were, or if you did not understand the question to begin with.  Fear of failure comes from the knowledge that your performance, or rather your ability to perform up to the level (or not) has a direct effect on another person’s perception of your self-worth.

So to make a mistake is horribly detrimental to one’s psyche.  More than that however, comes the fear of making the mistake to begin with.  And it is there that I often find myself petrified.  It’s more than procrastination.  True, that’s how it manifests itself, but to me, procrastination and fear are not necessarily intertwined.

Also unfortunately, terror makes me sleepy, so I find it difficult to concentrate on what I’m trying to do, even when I finally begin to do it.  I also find it difficult to concentrate because a desperate voice keeps screeching in my spine, “What if that’s not right?  What if that’s not what they want?  What if you are screwing up and just don’t know it?  You already said that!  You can’t say it again!  They’ll think you don’t know what you’re doing!  Stop!  Stop!  Stop!  Before it gets worse!”

Then, whenever I start the task again, the prior experience makes it just than much harder to get going.

The assignment I’m working on is part analysis and part opinion based on said analysis and other readings. After SIX DAYS I finally finished the analysis part.  I read it earlier last week and took notes, but it took me until today, ladies and gentlemen to actually get finished with typing it up.

So now I’m to the so-called easy part–the opinion part (the well-thought out opinion part)–and I’m finding myself afraid to even write that out.

It feels like, as an aspie, or just as a me, I can’t tell which–they’re both pretty far intertwined–I use up all of my chances to make mistakes just making it through the day; so when I finally get down to the nitty gritty bits of what class really is about, then I feel like I’ve used them all up and I have to get this part right.

And as you probably know, going into something with that thought in your head and your consciousness, is not exactly the easiest thing to work through.  People will tell me that I should just get my ideas on the page; well let me answer that now, I already did that.  The problem came when I tried to put it in the correct format, into the right words, the right phrases.

This is why I have performance anxiety when it comes to music.  You see me throughout the day, always screwing up everything around me, but when it comes to music, to something I know I can do right, then it’s just that much worse to screw that up, because here’s something that I know I can do just as good as anyone else . . . and maybe even better on some occasions.  See there?  Pride.  I have it.  It just doesn’t say much.  Here I am on equal footing with everyone, so it is my chance to really do something and show that the public face that you see of me everyday isn’t all that there is to me.  There is more.  Likewise, Bruce Wayne said more or less the same thing to Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins.  This public exterior that you see before you is a bad copy of what’s going on underneath, like in Plato’s shadow world.

And it’s so damning when you have the real thing inside, but what comes out of your mouth is more like watching someone program a robot with a memory, speech algorithms, and standard movements, then releasing it to imitate the humans around it.  I mean, it’s pretty amazing to see a walking, talking, thinking robot, don’tcha think?  But compared to the humans around it, the robot is still unremarkable.  They were born that way, it had to be trained.  It had to be made into what it is now.  They just exist.

So in comparison, the robot is somehow lacking.  And always will be.  No matter how many new upgrades it gets, it will always be at least one step behind the natural, living, breathing creatures that it interacts with on a daily basis.

As I told myself last night, “I’m not afraid of your failure.  I’m afraid of you not trying.”

Is it any wonder that I had an urge to listen to these songs today?

For the lyrics to this song, click here.

For the lyrics to this song, click here.

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on September 21, 2008.

6 Responses to “Stop Being Such A Spineless Git!”

  1. Ugh. I understand that fear completely. May I make a couple of humble suggestions? Born of procrastination and fear of failure on this end, I assure you. Have you tried writing it from the bottom up? Write the last paragraph, and then write the one that has to come before that for the last one to make sense. Sometimes I can fool myself into completing a task by taking it out of order until I have enough pieces to cobble together a draft – at which point editing is infinitely easier than writing.

    Another old trick of mine is to make the initial writing editing, also. I take the notes that I have written (in margins, or wherever) while I was reading the materials, and I put them all down on paper together. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to be remotely in essay form. It’s just a place to start by getting all the thoughts I’ve already had into one place. Then I can move them around until I’m feeling a little more confident about what I’ve already thought and done.

    It can’t help to have an English prof for a mom. But honest and true, no one is going to be judging you but YOU. If you can just let go of that, it’s the root of the problem. Perhaps because I know I am a good writer, I just get tied up in knots sometimes, I understand completely that it is entirely possible to be smart, likable, worthy, and a crappy writer (or conversely in my case, a great writer and a pitiful human being!). If you can just trick yourself into getting started, you already know what you have to do and that you know the material. You just need to remember that you are learning it for YOU, not for your professors.

    Of course, one of my best tools is to wait until I have about 24 hours left to complete the paper, and then bang it out. Leaves no time for fussing, you just have to write something. But I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone.

    Good luck! You can do it!

  2. Indeed, Bad Mommy offers excellent advice, and speaks the truth: you most certainly CAN do it.

  3. The irony of it all is that your description of how you feel is very eloquent and very moving. It’s proof positive that you’re an excellent writer.

    You’ve given Dr. C. too much power over you. She makes mistakes, I make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. It’s the human condition. Take back your own authority to write, and all will be well. You can do it!

  4. If your work is not perfect, what’s the worse that can happen? Dr. C. could give you a bad grade. That’s about it. And if that happens you will be able to handle it. You have enormous reserves of power and intelligence, and you will know what to do. I promise!

  5. Think of Dr.C like a learning experience. As silly as it may sound I try to see people like that as an obstacle or game. How would Batman handle this offender! Kind of a play on What would Jesus do…lol

  6. Your own advice on anxiety… probably slightly paraphrased… “I will handle it” come what may.

    Deep breath, yoga, mantra, whatever floats your boat… and you will get through this.

    wishing you the best of luck and determination

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