Anxiety & Procrastination

Whenever I thought about procrastination in the past I imagined lazy or easily distracted, flighty people. I had an idea that whatever task was being put off, just really didn’t mean all that much to the person avoiding it. A procrastinator in my mind was someone who was disorganized, irresponsible, disinterested, etc. I don’t think the synonyms most other people would come up with would be very positive either.

Until recently I would have never thought to consider myself a procrastinator. And maybe it has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and taken on more responsibilities. But trying to see myself from the perspective of my friends, family, and coworkers made me realize that they may view me that way.

I do tend to put things off and spend time doing things others may think of as less important than what I should be doing. It had just never occurred to me how this looks from the outside. Because internally I never fit into the mold of the type of person I would call a procrastinator. You see, I wasn’t lazy or careless or irresponsible or being distracted by other activities I found more enjoyable. I was putting important things off, not because I didn’t care about them, but because of my anxiety.

Once I realized this, I immediately felt guilty for being so quick to judge the procrastination of others. What if they are just like me in reality? Just too paralyzed by anxiety to do what they want/need to do. Maybe they were also too embarrassed and ashamed to verbalize their reasons to those around them, thinking it wasn’t necessary. Instead of sympathizing with them, I was silently criticizing them from up on my high horse.

I am hoping that there will be at least a few people reading this that, like me, never thought of things this way before. The next time I see someone avoiding their responsibilities, rather than judge them, I am going to reach out to them. Maybe they just need some support and understanding. I know it would mean a lot to me if the people in my life understood why I put things off and let important tasks pile up. I would feel even worse about it if they were all thinking I just don’t care. The opposite is actually true. I care so much that I become incapacitated and have to avoid thinking about it at all.

I’m going to try to remember this realization in the future. I am often so sure of my perception of other people’s intentions and motives. I forget that life isn’t always as simple as I think it is. Everybody has their own inner world that I know nothing about. Instead of analyzing, I just want to observe and accept from now on.

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