When Late Marks No Longer Make You Flinch

I often say that it’s a shame the sky didn’t come crashing down the first time I submitted something late, because now I treat deadlines like suggestions.

I should point out that this mentality is exclusively applied to unpaid, non group, school work. (How you doin’ future employers?) Perhaps it’s because in this case the only person I’m really letting down is myself. But that’s a conversation for another time.

Recently, a friend messaged me to ask whether we were supposed to submit an assignment online or in person.

“What assignment?” was my response.

Apparently it was due the day before. Normally, approaching deadlines send me into a mild panic that isn’t strong enough to get me started, but is present enough to colour everything I do that week with the knowledge that I need to get something done. The interesting thing about this deadline was that I hadn’t known it was approaching or present. Period.

In order to procrastinate, you need to be putting a task off completely. In this case, I hadn’t even known there was something to put off. I can’t even say I forgot, because forgetting implies you’d known about the assignment in the first place. (Full disclosure: It’s not that I wasn’t told, I just wasn’t paying attention.) So when I realized how royally I had screwed up, I had to laugh, and the first thing that came to mind was something Donald Rumsfeld said:

“There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Forgive me. After all, he was using these words to justify the eventual war in Iraq. But anytime I open a test and there’s a question I didn’t even know was in the realm of things I should have studied, or I totally blank on an assignment deadline, Rumsfeld comes to mind and I have to giggle.

It’s a shame that the sky didn’t come crashing down the first time I submitted an assignment late, because now I treat deadlines like suggestions. Once I finished laughing at myself, I sent my friend another message:

“I will not let this alter the course of my day.”

I’d start working on it tomorrow.

Moral of the story: Life’s short. Lose three or four percent.

The student life moral of this story: Don’t beat yourself up if you fall behind. Catch up, and make some adjustments in the future.

THE REAL MORAL OF THIS STORY: I will not be going to law or grad school anytime soon. Do not use me as an academic role model, kids.

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