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The art of procrastination: One’s fight with her own mind

As a student who has taken on too much and not nearly enough throughout my entire college career, I have become too comfortable in a state of disarray that is late work. In my fifth year — yes, my super senior year — at New Mexico State University, I have compiled a list of bad habits that pertain to being a “bad student” overall.

Number one, just get your work done. You are already so stressed from every other aspect of your life, stop letting homework be your last priority. Or do what I have done and make it the very last item on the docket and stress vomit over it at 3 a.m.

This is something I wish I had told myself before I became every professor’s worst nightmare, but alas, I am even writing this story late. 

Notebooks and Canvas assignments piled on top of one another reflect one week of work for a student with three jobs and a full-time school schedule. (Photo by Myra Rommes/Kokopelli)

It was late 2017 when I started on this trek of being a terrible student, but somehow I was able to hold my job at KRUX 91.5 and stay in school. I was a freshman trying to readjust to what could have been healthy school habits, but learned early on that my professors did want to help me pass, even if my lateness was obnoxious.

This is something that I could have used to my advantage, but instead I fell down a tricky rabbit hole of waiting until the last minute for everything in my life. Hey, someone always wanted to help me, right?

Wrong.

This method, although madness, still had me turning things in on time, just done right before the due date. Bad move. It really reflects on your grades when done this way.

Number two, sudden change will make you want to just give up altogether. And it will make homework seem like nothing at all, especially when you just ignore it completely.

It was not until that fateful spring 2020 semester that I was truly pushed to a breaking point, school wise, work ethic wise and with everything else.

Many students learned, and felt, online school was obscenely hard. I had opted to not take online courses after a stint with one my freshman year; and yes, I did do horribly in that course because I constantly forgot to check Canvas for my assignments.

This would be a prophecy for the rest of my schooling.

Moving to online school ratted up my idea of college altogether. The days melted into one another and I was left feeling more behind than ever, but having absolutely no motivation for any kind of work during that semester transition to online.

It was hard for all of us, but I had already dealt with an unwavering mental illness and frankly felt that I could not do any better than what I was doing, which was basically nothing.

I still feel that way to this day, as if the bare minimum is still too hard to even accomplish.

Number three, having a preexisting anxiety disorder during a global pandemic that alters every corner of life will make you think there is no point in trying anymore, essentially paralyzing you from doing anything at all.

Over the online semesters, I would turn off my zoom camera, even if the professor asked us to keep them on, because “having to look at myself in that tiny window, as if this wasn’t torturous enough, will actually be the death of me.” It was hard to get out of a bad headspace then, much harder than it is now.

I have always dealt with depression and anxiety. Those two do not mix well when you are an aspiring journalist and film student, but the world seems to get grimmer by the hour.

As time went on, and my head got worse to be in, I began to think that my professors would have no interest in hearing about yet another student’s bout with depression.

Every email I sent about an extension or with my work attached became another hurdle that would take me back to the dark trenches of my overactive, anxiety ridden mind.

I know I am not the only one who feels this way. My roommate, Cherish Peña, agrees with my sentiments.

“I was not like this [a procrastinator] until that [spring 2020] semester, so it really sucks. I feel like I can’t get back to being a top student because I can push it off until I am too stressed to not do it,” Peña said.

She and I have lived together through most of the pandemic. Every semester we start strong, wanting all A’s as every student does. But I falter very quickly, only for us to both complain about it together on a late night when we both are panicking about our homework.

Peña is a better student than I am, but I do see how moving from in-person to online and back to in-person has affected both of us. 

She had just transferred to the main NMSU campus when we shut down, allowing her to be able to adjust to online school rather quickly. She might be the outlier that prefers online school to in-person, but the effects of not having in-person classes do show up in both of us often.

In our film classes in the Creative Media Institute, there had always been a strong bond between students. But since going online, most students keep to themselves, not allowing those connections to flourish, isolating each of us.

I feel as if the rug was pulled out from under me when NMSU announced that we were going to move off campus. I was so close to finishing school on time, double majoring, sometimes taking 21 credits a semester, when all of a sudden that seemed out of reach.

The remainder of 2020 proved to be one of the hardest time periods for me, what with my depression manifesting in more physical ways, seeking out a new therapist and still feeling the guilt of wanting to drop out of school altogether.

Number four, moving back into “normal life” knowing that nothing is the way it once was will still find ways to stunt your motivation. So, with that in mind, maybe sleeping 13 hours a day and avoiding homework altogether will be an okay decision.

Online courses have never gotten any easier. I am still struggling with my asynchronous course currently, two years after the start of the pandemic.

There are so many students in my current courses that seem to be doing fine, staying on task.

Is it just me who can’t keep up?

The concoction of depression and anxiety paired with online school and homework seems to be the perfect recipe for my disasters.

I had not realized how far behind I had gotten this semester until last week – it always hits me really hard mid-semester. I am currently looking to finish all of my assignments and get caught up while also looking into talking with someone again. I think that most students should see a counselor or therapist, especially if you already deal with mental health issues. College is a very trying time, paired with the stress of a global pandemic, can be even harder on students.

Seeking help is not easy for everyone, but being a student at NMSU can have its perks. The Aggie Health and Wellness Center offers free, confidential counseling services. Intake for these counseling sessions can be done over the phone, and they have in-person and online counselors available to the students and staff.

Without options like these, I might not have been able to write this article, late as it may be.

Things do look better, but there is still a huge world to navigate. But, we as the college students of the pandemic, will be able to enter the professional world together.

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