The slow and steady disintegration of trying to write an essay the day it's due

I have faith that I will survive, sans drugs. File The Ubyssey

I am your typical Arts student. I have idealistic dreams of changing the world by contributing to the dismantling of capitalism, no job prospects after graduation and hundreds of essays to write. I’ll be honest, I was excited to write my essay about Michel Foucault, as is every other Arts student who is acquainted with this man at least once (probably twice) in their university careers. But I wouldn’t be a typical Arts student if I didn’t leave this essay until the very last moment. So, to procrastinate even that, I am documenting my hourly stay at IKB as I potentially probably lose my mind.

Noon

I have the entire day to do this. I am ready. I am prepared. I take out my laptop, my textbook, my notes, a pen and a pencil and the picture of my whiteboard that I couldn’t carry from home that has the scribbles of a genius on it: a mind-map of my A+ essay. I put down my coffee on the desk that isn’t a coffee but a hot chocolate because the kind lady at Tim’s messed up my order. I am not going into battle caffeinated, but it is okay. I have faith that I will survive, sans drugs. I flip open my textbook, I begin.

1 p.m.

My laptop battery is already beginning to wane. To be fair, I haven’t charged it in about three days. Personally, I would give out a lot earlier. I untangle my charger so it can breathe some life into my laptop. I am still reading my textbook and underlining things that don’t really make any sense to me.

2 p.m.

I have spent an hour on Instagram. I am now very knowledgeable about celebrities who will never know me. I am also very knowledgeable about their dogs, who also, will never know me. Tragic.

3 p.m.

I have deleted Instagram.

4 p.m.

I have finished making stars next to all the lines I want to quote, despite not having a clue as to how to string them together. I consider myself to have accomplished something. It is time to take another break. I ask the person sitting next to me to watch my stuff because I’m in desperate need of a break. She looks over with what one can only imagine is a mixture of pity and disdain, sighs, and motions me to go. At last, I am able to make my way to Ike’s, get some food and buy a coffee. A real caffeinated coffee this time. I return to my seat, tell myself I am ready and open my laptop, ready to type out my A+ essay.

5 p.m.

Procrastination has taken the form of altruism. I promise my friend I will read his essay and give him feedback. With my brain on overload, shaking too much from the caffeine, I decided I will spend my precious time going over his already-completed perfect essay instead of focusing on starting mine. I spend the next hour giving ‘genuine’ feedback, while completely aware that my brain has halfway turned into mush, and I can’t actually understand most of his essay. Nevertheless, he is grateful. As he should be.

6 p.m.

Like my laptop that is running hot and making unearthly noises, I have also started fuming and breathing too much. My feet are shaking too much and I can feel chemicals running up and down my body. I have too much nervous energy. I decide to go expend it on something else. I don’t bother asking anyone to watch my stuff now, no one wants to touch my cursed textbook, let alone my asthmatic laptop. I run down without my jacket and go out to get some fresh air, not considering that I will probably freeze to death. After pacing enough, I run back inside, doing a Rocky Balboa-esque run up and around IKB. By the time I get back up to the fourth floor, I am done with my monthly workout and ready to focus on my essay again.

7 p.m.

I run into a friend I’ve only met once before, at a party, while we were both very out of it. I love this guy. I’m very excited to see him and I imagine he is excited to see me. However, at hour seven I can only respond with a slightly perky, mostly dying, “hi.” He comes over and we spend twenty minutes chatting. He then says that I should finish my essay so he will leave me to it. Greater disappointment and dread has not been felt.

8 p.m.

Am I making progress? My brain is rotting, so I can’t really say. I give myself an ultimatum of two more hours to leave the library. I don’t think my brain catches that but I think it knows that it can’t handle anymore.

9 p.m.

A surprise: I am done! I am finished. I am actually through. I have put together words that somehow make sense. My brain is on fire, and not in a good way. As I save my file and close my wheezing laptop, I wonder if I have enough brain matter to walk me home. I find myself jittering from the caffeine, the anxiety and the lack of competence.

As they say, you live and you learn. I should probably never leave an important essay until the last minute again. Anyway, see you next week to document my spiral into insanity for when I leave an essay till the last minute again.