Summer Journal Project: Prompt 51

Prompt 51 invites us to discuss a quote from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee:
“I am a person who works well under pressure. In fact, I work so well under pressure that at times, I procrastinate in order to create this pressure.”

When I was in my early twenties I was, most definitely, of the opinion that I worked best under pressure. I can’t say for certain whether I procrastinated so that the pressure would build, but I would often be working right up until the deadline.
I know that when it comes to creativity I struggle to come up with ideas until a deadline is looming. That is not always the case, but it very often is. Either that, or, I know from the outset what I plan to do. Feast or famine.
Some years ago I was on a training course learning how to be a trainer. We had been given an assignment to create a substantial activity or presentation which could be used to increase awareness of our subject and aid participants’ learning. This was the first time I had ever had to do anything like that and I was really floundering. I just could not think of what to do, not even whether to devise a presentation or an activity. I was feeling more and more under pressure. I was also feeling woefully inadequate: not up to the task. All of my insecurities were fighting each other to see which one could come out on top, and stay there.
The deadline was rushing towards me and I was becoming ever more despondent at my inability to come up with an idea.
Early in the morning on the day before the assignment had to be handed in, inspiration finally struck! At last! I jumped out of bed and started work immediately. When the rest of the family awoke a couple of hours later I was hard at work at the dining table and everyone was banned from talking to me. I worked and worked, all day and late into the night and, again, early the next morning. I finished the assignment just in time to hand deliver it! And it was a pretty good piece of work, even if I do say so myself. Well, I was pleased with it!
The last minute ‘lightbulb moment’ is definitely a concept I am familiar with. I used to thrive on it. However, nowadays things are different: I can barely cope with stress or pressure. If I am working to a deadline and it looks as though I’m not going to finish the task, or I am feeling anxious about it, I will sometimes simply withdraw from the task. For me, failure to complete the task, in that instance, is not failure, it is self-preservation. My mental health is far important than some specious deadline.


2 thoughts on “Summer Journal Project: Prompt 51

  1. Very interesting reading. I have had that recurring theme in my work as well. I allow myself to be late for deadlines, as needed, for sanity, but it doesn't always sit easy with me. I have 2 teens; one works slowly and steadily, and the other seems to need the last minute pressure. Their methods seem to serve each equally well.


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