Writing Catalog

Mary Jo Baetzold

Grade: 11

Mayfield High School

Instructor: Kari Beery

The Perfectionist Procrastinator


The Perfectionist Procrastinator

I am simply never off of work. Can you believe that? All day. A healthy amount of sleep? I don't know her. I am telling you, what a way to live. The rush. The thrill. The can't-be-avoided adrenaline. A twenty-four-hour-never-off-the-clock-daydream-and-nightmare. Wait. I am starting to realize that you might be thinking, "Oh, I bet she is a world renowned surgeon or some medically, physically, or emotionally demanding, you-can-never-have-a-drink-at-a-bar-because-your-pager-might-buzz kind of position," right? While I do enjoy a good binge-watch of Grey's Anatomy, I am not a medical professional, an astronaut in space, or a mom of octuplets. Now, of course, it's not like those are not fulfilling careers. Believe me, the thrill I get during a 42 minute television drama is cathartic, so imagine being a real part of the real action. What is stopping me comes down to one thing: blood. I can't do it. It oozes, gushes, even explodes. Can't. I can't. And while astronauts are super amazing with the trajectory, the physics, the perspective, it's the space food really, who could eat that for a year? And octuplets, that's just nuts. Anywho, I got myself off topic, veered the train right off the track. I apologize. Pretty usual for me anyway because my job is (insert drum roll here) a perfectionist procrastinator.

You all have heard of perfectionists. Some think it's a blessing, others say it's a curse. Whether it's organizing markers in colored order, editing email responses hundreds of times before sending, performing triple by-pass surgery, or trimming a small boxwood shrub to replicate Disney animals, perfectionists are out there somehow trying to make the world a better place. Go you guys! I applaud your persistence and resilience.

In contrast, you've got the procrastinator. They have the "working under pressure" type of attitude. Now if you believe that you are one, this is a warning: I am not responsible for offending you in any way. So please. Don't sue. Anyway, getting back on track (again), no one likes a procrastinator. Their teachers. Their parents. Heck, even the procrastinator themselves. At least their 15 hour video game streak or their double-the-doctor-recommended-sleep-schedule is worth it in the short-term.

Separately, these two types of people are taking on the world and they seem to enjoy it. Whether it is attempting to reach for the impossible perfection or trying to reach level 1,372 of their three day old video game instead of completing their homework, they are taking it on with a willing desire.

It's time now, time to meet the nasty combination, the devil-like mixture, the worst of the worst, the perfectionist procrastinator. They are hard to find, but you are lucky enough to meet one right here, right now. I wasn't lying when I told you that they are never off the clock. Here's an example. Mr. English teacher assigns a five page essay on the topic: what makes up a successful community? One week. The class has one week to construct a working draft in order to edit with peers and meet with the teacher. The "smart" way is to logically plan the week accordingly. Brainstorm ideas Monday. Research articles Tuesday. Select evidence Wednesday. Build analysis Thursday. Write introductions and conclusions Friday. The weekend: all done and stress free. Smooth. Efficient. Easy. Finished.

Now let's hear the rebuttal from the "risky" side— my side. You're writing an essay on a successful community. What's the best way to brainstorm? Be the community. Watch how peers interact. Watch who works with who. Watch who contributes what. Let the ideas brew in the pot, sizzle in the pan, marinate in the dish. Perfectionist procrastinators are never off the job because their ideas swarm in their head all day long. Got a thought at 4:00 A.M.? Write it down. It may be stressful, yes. Your weekends may not be off like the rest, yes. That weekend, though, you will pour out that five page essay like you are conducting a symphony. A little bit of strings, some wind, a steady percussion. With a wave of your writing baton your fingers will dance on the keys and the symphony will sound on the screen.

It's a hard life being both sides of the brain. It truly is. Believe me. However, it works… at least for me. What I have come to realize is even through the stress of starting and stopping and stopping and thinking and reinventing it all over again, it has made me better. It has made me a better thinker, a better connect-the-dots between school-life, home-life, the nation, and our world kind of hero. I mean, schedules can be monotonous and so are the 1,372 levels of video games that I could be playing instead. As a matter of fact, this crazy-nuanced collision of thinking will make this world a better place than it is today. I vow to connect the dots in a perfectly procrastinated way for everyone. I know this is a democracy, but the perfectionist procrastinators will rise to the top, gather refined and scattered thoughts, and plant seeds of action. Don't worry, we will talk about it a lot before actually doing anything, but when we start to do it…. you better watch out. Let it be told here, these individuals are considerate, passionate, and resilient. Even if their work is finished at the eleventh hour.