Trust Me, I Got This: Fight or flight or type really fast


“Trust Me, I Got This” is a weekly column by staff writer and senior Christopher McDermott on surviving senior year, guided solely by this unconventional advice.

An example of the planner that the author never manages to use. (ryan chamberlain/Flickr)

I’ve started every single school year of my life by assuring myself that this time, finally, I will get myself together and start actually keeping and following a personal calendar and a detailed plan.

Naturally, the first thing I write into every new planner is “Get Life Together” in aggressive red letters.

It’s yet to actually work in exactly that way, so I changed my plan slightly.

I started telling myself that one of these weekends I’m going to lock myself in the library or my closet for a full day and get a week ahead on all of my homework and readings for class so that I can take it super easy for a while until inevitably I fall behind again and panic for a while before I do the locking myself into the library thing again.

“I love deadlines,” Douglas Adams once said. “I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

When I started reporting I found that a great chunk of journalism assignments are very much like putting together an essay in three hours after procrastinating for three weeks, except there is absolutely no time for procrastination and you always start at the maniacally-stressing-over-things phase in the creative process.

Having a deadline breathing down your neck all the time is a massive part of the job.

This year I am going to graduate, and getting my life together suddenly seems even more about deadlines than ever before. My plan for going forward is to send out tons of applications for jobs, internships and programs and then see what sticks. This of course means every new place has its own fun deadline to stress over.

And in a way it’s kind of exciting. The stress that comes from deadlines is the same basic stuff felt by cavemen running away from bears. It’s your classic fight-or-flight response.

Of course long-term this will probably actually exhaust and destroy a person. And then the bears will catch you.

At the moment, every time I open up my calendar I see tons of deadlines that want to crush my face and feed me to their cubs. The closest thing I have to strategy for this up to the moment is to stop seeing my calendar as the bear.

Agendas are terrifying, at least for people who are bad at planning. They’re full of reminders of things you forgot to do and people who are either mad at you now or will be in the near future for all the things you forgot to for you.

I’m going to make peace with my agenda. I’ll consult it almost daily and give it a comfortable new place on my desk.

Or at the very least, the next time I get a new agenda and write “Get Life Together” at the top of it, I will use calming green instead.

Trust me, I got this.

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