Janell Sihay

Why I can't get things done

When I was younger, my brother and I would walk this half-a-kilometer-long road to get a ride to school. This road has a wide stretch of a wall filled with murals. One mural that I memorized by heart is this painting of a deep orange sunset, with an accompanying quote:

"The greatest enemy we can face in life is the illusion that there would be more time tomorrow than there is today." - Anonymous

Little did I know that this was a foreshadowing of my young adult life. Janell - 0, Universe - 1.

Currently, I am struggling with doing things and managing my time.

I wasn't always like this. When I was about 18-22 years old, I was on top of things. I could do all 7 tasks on my to-do list. And these were not menial tasks, they involved a lot of brain cells.

How I ended up procrastination personified, I don't know. The global pandemic is likely a factor. My personal trauma from my mom's brain injury could be one, too. I think I haven't processed it all yet because like I said -- I am struggling to do things.

But come to think of it, I do things, just not the ones I intend to do. I mean, I take care of household matters like buying medicine and groceries. These are things that NEED to be done. But when it comes to my thesis proposal and the creative things I want to do, I have them written down but at the end of the day, the tick boxes are left unchecked.

I spoke with a guidance counselor about the struggles I face with my thesis proposal. One thing that stuck with me was to set a time each day for work and commit to it no matter what. Just open your laptop. Write a few sentences. Heck, just write a few words. Just dump all of your ideas. She calls this writing in "sabog-sabog" which means writing in fragments of thought. The next time you work, at least you have something to work on.

I was able to do this for a while, but I slipped right back. I researched more about procrastination and checked what applied to me. I'm convinced that my procrastination is linked with my perfectionism tendencies. I cannot finish my thesis proposal because this research area is entirely new to me, and I am not confortable with being unknowledgeable. I am not confident with my thoughts, I always change the structure and flow. I feel like there still needs to be improved. Sometimes I think this is the result of years of Jesuit education, of being conditioned to Magis, which is Latin for "to do more". I could go on but maybe I can write another entry for that.

So yeah, I think this is why it's fucking taking so long. I know I can always talk to my adviser and teachers, I mean, they're there to help me and I know they will be happy to. It's crazy, I've known them for 2 years now but I still feel really shy to talk to them and ask for help. Again, this goes back to my tendency to want to be perfect. I don't what to go to them without well-thought ideas. I'm afraid to waste their time.

Gosh, now writing this down I feel like I went into grad school unprepared. In the application form, we were asked if we were mentally prepared. I said yes. I really thought I was.

But then again, I was in a different headspace before. My mindset's totally changed. Albeit counterintuitive, this fact is actually comforting, because then my thought processes now (which are mostly negative) are not forever. This for sure will change, especially now that I've come to be aware of it.