February 18, 2014 at 8:24 pm #16460ProprocrastinatorMember
Cowpaths is a metaphor where if cows walk a certain way to get to a certain place, and it’s the optimal path at the time, and then the trees that were in their way and which they had to walk around before get cut down they just keep walking the same old way, although it would be shorter to walk across where the tree used to be but isn’t anymore rather than “random” zig-zag lines (as it would look to an onlooker who doesn’t understand why the cows walk so strange ways).
Sometimes things are the way they are not because they ought to be, but because they’ve always been that way – or at least for way too long to change on their own.
For example: When and Why did I become a “hopeless romantic” – movies, novels, stories…
Weak/sick and smart/creative – identified with those movie characters. What would a better role model be? And is that necessarily too much like trying to be someone else?
A Ancient Rome style role model selection? – Bits and pieces from different people? — But then is it even possible? How do I know you can have one without the rest?
How about instead of reverse engineering just problem solving. Do what comes natural unless it doesn’t work? What cow paths are is when you don’t know how it doesn’t work…
But right now I can see many many many things in my life that don’t work. My room’s a mess, my homework remains neglected, as does part of my social world, and intentions (like going to the gym and eating right) are left unfulfilled.
I was supposed to meet a therapist, but she’s switching clinics, so I got an appointment with someone else instead, but it’s not for weeks. That change didn’t feel like a big deal at the time. I was more worried I’d not need the appointment and waste their time if it was so far ahead.
Instead things seem to be getting worse. Instead of having a reading break for or even from readings it wasn’t much of a break at all. I read things online, unrelated to my goals or obligations. I immersed myself in photoshop editiing art work that might or might not get used for one of my other hobbies further in the future… — but the thing is I’ve been procrastinating before the “holidays”, so I really depended on catching up there rather than falling further behind.
How can you fall behind further than where you started? Easy: don’t sleep and eat shitty and let dirty laundry pile up, and feel like shit about yourself.
Reading break has two options: take time off, or work. I took option 3, self sabotage. Waste the valuable resource that is time, and stay up until 10 am, sleep until 5 pm (early enough to make it to dance class that you were looking forward to) but then keep doing things online until you missed half the class and then head to campus.
I really enjoyed the second half of class, so I was annoyed having missed the first, but hopeful that this would remind me of what the real world feels like. But then I come home and keep doing things on the computer until I have a conversation with a friend that lasts until 5 am. I have to pee, but I don’t have the energy to get up, so I rationalize that it would be good not to, because I have class in the afternoon and I didn’t want to get up and look for my phone to set an alarm. Woke up near 11:30 am after a series of strange dreams near consciousness and seriously thought it was super late now, like evening again. I’m glad it’s not, but I feel like I’m a mess.
There’s some very attractive and some likable girls in my latin dance class, and one seems to like me, and I want to pursue this and see where it goes. But I have like no energy/resources left right now, and am a huge mess. In the past having plans of a girl coming over to visit was a great motivator for cleaning my room up and that often helps for getting my shit together – but since I fell behind on my readings and exams are coming up I’m not sure if I have the time for that. I ought to be working hard.
But because I’m a mess I don’t know if I can even do that right. Spiral of suckiness…
I love schedules and thinking ahead and planning and goals and checking off to-do lists, and all that… but I haven’t got a clue where to start, and I haven’t done any of that successfully as far as I know. I do love it in theory though. But I end up getting stuck in overthinking instead and paralyzed by being overwhealmed at all the info that my brain would like to process.
I’m used to living in a small town where I can go do everything I need to do in a day, cause it’s all equally close, and reachable by bike. In the city I feel like I’d really have to think ahead to know where to go to begin with.
I need to get my act together, but how, and where to start?
February 21, 2014 at 9:37 pm #19092YouthspaceModerator
It sounds like your wheels feel like they are spinning, and you needed a place to let some of it out. Welcome to youthspace — I’m glad you came to share your thoughts.
I’ve never heard of the idea of cowpaths before, but I can see why it’s such a compelling metaphor for the way that we sometimes live our lives. From what I can gather, you’re feeling somewhat like you’re stuck in a cowpath yourself… but you’re a smart enough cow to see the path, and realize that you could walk over where the tree used to be…and that part of what’s frustrating you is your inability to do so, even though you see it for what it is? I would imagine you feel trapped by the paths that you see but cannot break out of…
Frustration seems to be a theme in your writing here – and I can hear that you are very angry with yourself for not being able to grab control of the parts of your life that you feel are spiraling. Even more than that, there seems to be nervousness in your words that things are getting much worse than they normally are, and that perhaps they’re starting to escape your control. You’re looking at yourself, and seeing that things that would usually motivate you (like having a girl over) don’t have as much power as they normally do, and it sounds like it generally has you wondering if something bigger than the cowpath phenomenon is causing you to fall back into habits that you don’t like to see yourself in?
You talk about loving the idea and theory of organizing your life, but feeling paralyzed when you actually try to make those thoughts into realities….which feeds into the feelings of irritation. Have there been moments in the past where you were able to beat that paralysis?
I’m worried for you Proprocrastinator, being stuck in this paralysis. I know you’re waiting to talk to a therapist but if you want to explore other resources and options we can work with you on that.
We are here to listen and talk if you want to keep sharing your reflections on your experiences. If you’re in Canada, you can also try out the live chat between 6 and 11pm PST (or 6pm-midnight on Friday and Saturday).
-The Support Team
February 23, 2014 at 8:57 am #19094ProprocrastinatorMember
This Tuesday I have an exam. I don’t own the book. I haven’t really been listening to the lecture recordings, checking the slides or notes… it’s worth 30 % of the grade. – And what am I doing? Making silly photoshop edits (something I’m sort of good at, because when I get into procrastination mode I have incredible focus… on the wrong things).
Tomorrow I got 4 hours of fun planned that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I was worried about it taking up study time, but what do I do instead? Waste x times as much time in the time coming up to the event.
The material presented in class was fairly easy, but I don’t know what I’m missing out on in the book. Monday evening I got dance, which I need to keep me sane. Total of 8 hours (including the event and dance) of non-study time between now and Tuesday. Rest could be sleep, food, and studying… but I just don’t see that happening.
I’m too busy distracting myself to avoid being upset at what I’ve done in the past to deal with the present. Strange things, humans are, eh?
February 25, 2014 at 5:43 am #19104YouthspaceModerator
Humans are very strange things indeed. If you ever truly figure them out, please let us know, okay? Because I know how it is to look at your own behaviour and find that you can’t make heads or tails of it.
And it sounds like you’re continuing to wonder at yourself, not only “why did I do that?” but also “I just know I’m going to do that again”. I can hear that part of your frustration comes from seeing that you’re likely to put things off again and again, in the same way that you have before. What you said at the end of your message made it sound like you’re running on a treadmill, trying to deal with your anger at yourself from things that you have let slide in the past, all the while fighting to keep from falling off of the stuff that is still coming at you.
I can imagine that the exam tomorrow might be pressing down on you pretty heavily today…because it sounds like even though you know it’s worth a lot of your grade, you’ve been simply unable to make yourself care about it, even though you want to. It sounds like your mind is running around in circles trying to sort itself out, as the minutes pass by that you could be using to study. I can imagine how aggravating that is. Know that we’re here if you want to talk about how the studying and exam go for you.
It’s great that you have dance to keep you sane — dancing can be a very feel-good thing to do, and I can tell that it’s important to you.
-The Support Team
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