The longer I go without finishing this blog, the funnier it gets. I started it almost two weeks ago and then left it alone in my documents folder. Fortunately, I’m not alone in my imperfection – procrastination seems to be pretty universal, according to my extensive accidental research that I’ve done while actually procrastinating. Because obviously a better cure for procrastination than actually finishing my blog post is reading five books on procrastination and then cleaning the kitchen because I can’t start anything else until I’ve written a treatise on how I’m going to beat my procrastination.
I think I’m allergic to starting anything until either a) I know it’s gonna be great or b) THE DEADLINE IS TOMORROW. Option B happens 95% of the time, and deadlines are the only reason I’ve done the majority of the things I can put on a school application or a resumé. The other 5% of the time never. Happens. Instead, this weird thing happens where I’m totally unsure about how The Thing will turn out but I do it anyway. That is the reason I’ve finished writing novels, have a massive stash of my drawings and paintings back home, and am on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
A few weeks ago, on a Tuesday, I realized that I had a free weekend coming up. I’ve already spent several weeks squirrelled away in my flat, pretending to do homework but actually reading, cleaning, or cooking. My primary form of exploration has been finding new cafés to sit in and actually do homework. Tuesday, I agonized over what I should do – I hadn’t planned anything, should I just stay home again and wait for a better weekend? No, absolutely not. I came here to see Scotland, not just the inside of one flat. But what to do? A grand solo adventure up to Inverness? A hike around Loch Lomond? A weekend in Aberdeen? Or stay in Glasgow and just go to a museum?
Luckily, I wasn’t alone in a hidey-hole in a tea shop when I had this moment. I was in my flat, with friends who pulled me back into reality. No, a giant solo trip isn’t a good idea when just going grocery shopping wipes me out, but it’s time to adventure a little more. I’d already been to Edinburgh for a day trip, maybe it would be good to go there again so I’m not as overwhelmed. But this time, think about going overnight – that way I’ve done it and I can go a little farther next time. Within half an hour, I had a friend from the RCS to travel with, a return train ticket and an AirBnB booked for Friday night.
I was terrified. I felt underprepared, I had no events to go to, I had no idea how to use the public transportation, and I didn’t even know where I was going to go to dinner. (priorities, right?) It didn’t matter, I’d bought the tickets and refused to waste the money. So I did some Googling and found an article on Edinburgh by Alexander McCall Smith. Said article suggested canal walks and delicatessens – much more my speed than battling the crowds to pay £18 to get into Edinburgh Castle.
The trip was gloriously imperfect. I packed my backpack, proceeded to accidentally soak it in the tiny RCS bathroom, and hopped on the train with not one but three other musicians, complete with harp and fiddle. I couldn’t get into my AirBnB, so I had to find a café with free WiFi so I could look up the check-in instructions again. I found the check-in instructions (I’d been using the wrong key) but I also found a café with a designated overly affectionate Labrador on duty and tablet made by the owner’s mum. I went to the Italian delicatessen alone, found a restaurant in the back, and ate dinner there alone – spending an hour over a wonderfully rich, smooth chocolate torte. I then met up with my fiddler friend and we went to a Scottish music session in a pub on the Royal Mile.
After my beautiful anti-procrastination trip, I came home and proceeded to procrastinate my essay for the next week. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many blogs you read (or write!) about beating procrastination, how many plans you make, or how good you are at the theory of not procrastinating anymore. It matters that you decide to act now, with the acceptance of all the resources that are and are not at your disposal.
I know I’m not going to start a revolution of thought or write the most profound Thing ever to exist. I know that in many ways, my essays, travels, and interactions will be very, very average. I’m still going to try to be exceptional – I don’t think it’s possible to turn off my “GIVE 200%!!!” switch. But it’s a heck of a lot better to give a disorganized 80% than to give 0% by never doing the Thing at all.
SCOTLAND – UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW, 2018 FALL
Alice Major is studying at the University of Glasgow in Glasgow, Scotland. She is a double major, focusing mostly on music and adding history because history is cool. Study abroad is Alice’s first time out of the country, and she hopes to come home in one piece and with a wicked Scottish accent.