One thing I remember from my first week of classes at college and graduate school was the overwhelming sense of work ahead as I looked over the new syllabus. It was like standing at the base of a mountain with an empty backpack, but with each bullet point class requirement a giant weight was added to the pack. Usually I was excited about the classes, and initially optimistic about how much work I could accomplish early in the semester. But as the weeks began to tick away I would find reason after reason to delay the work which I knew was inevitable. With each day of delay it became more difficult, and the weight began to take its toll on my shoulders.
Though I developed a great ability to work under pressure, and usually pulled things off, I think my procrastination was actually motivated by fear of failure. If I did poorly, but had really worked long and hard in advance, then what did that say about me? But, if I had cranked out the assignment at the last minute and pulled off an acceptable grade, then I could always console myself that I could have done even better, maybe gotten the A, if I really applied myself. Procrastination is often the perverted result of perfectionism, and not wanting to face the possibility of failing our self-expectations. What if my best doesn’t really shine?
At our first Chi Alpha group we explored some of the challenges presented by life in general, and life as a student in particular. We looked at the story of Jesus calming the storm in Luke chapter 8. Just as Jesus’ disciples let their fears fill their vision, and sometimes failed to recognize that the Son of God was with them during the storm, so we often let our fears get out of control.
Sometimes looking at our fears can magnify them. However, it is often good to identify those areas that keep us in a panic. What are your concerns or anxieties about this next semester?
Next time when you feel the weight building up, or the anxiety starting to grow, ask “who is in the boat with me?” or “who is this one that even the winds and waves obey?”