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.

R.E.A.D.I.N.G. Week

We’re more than halfway through reading week, otherwise known as “sleep in for five days and give your textbooks side eye”. Or perhaps, in a bout of ambitiousness, you told your boss you could work all week and now you’re feeling

REGRETFUL

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because now not only do you have to get out of bed, you have to pretend you give a damn about lattes, or that person who insists their food was awful even though they ate the entire thing. You’re trying to make yourself feel better by reminding yourself you’re making money – you are making paper! – and when that cheque comes in, you’ll wonder why you ever thought sleeping in was more important than cash. You scroll through Instagram on your break and feel a pang of

ENVY

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looking at all the sunny photos of classmates on vacation in the Bahamas or Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. But you shake it off. You know what you’re doing. You’ll save your money and take a trip when you can pay for a ticket AND still have a decent amount of change left over. You’ll save your money and focus on school. But now you’re reminded of school, and all the work that’s left to do, so now you’re

ANXIOUS.

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Hell, you would have preferred to write all your mid-terms before the break instead of having it hang over your week like this. Now you’ve got to, you know, read. There’s that feeling of

DREAD

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because the week’s almost over, you’ve still got three outlines to write and a trillion concepts Microsoft Word keeps putting a squiggly line underneath – because they were just invented yesterday – to memorize, so to stifle that panic you choose to think about the summer vacation that’s only a few months away, and now you’re feeling

IMPATIENT.

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This break is an unkind creation. It’s a torture device wrapped in seemingly good intentions – nothing but a tease. You know what Smokey said, “A taste of honey is worse than none at all.” You think of sunny days, BBQs, pools. Now you’re all lost in that

NOSTALGIA

for a simpler time when being the smartest kid in class meant knowing how to carry the two or unscramble a sentence. But then you remember you’re good. You’ve got this! You are smart and capable. You’re gonna get some sleep, you’re gonna write those papers, and you’re gonna study for those exams because you are a grown ass man or woman and you

GET. SHIT. DONE.

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