This is going to sound ridiculously absurd, but the first time that I waited until the last minute and was UNABLE to complete a task was in October 2011, when I was 33.
It's pretty damn impressive if you think about every single math assignment I completed on the bus, five-paragraph essay I wrote during lunch and entire textbook I would read in the 12 hours before the examination. The number of all-nighters is off the charts. Trust me when I say I pushed it to the VERY EDGE. And, pretty much every single time, I pulled it off.
That is, until I needed to complete the quilt I was making for my friend/realtor's baby, who was born the day before our wedding. Jon helped me choose the perfect fabrics and I started piecing it together, taking my sweet time. I made plans to visit the baby and her mom one day after work, so I had the first thing that I always need to know about any project: the deadline.
The night before my visit approached and I hadn't yet quilted the layers together or put on the edging. No big deal, right? I thought, I can conceptualize each remaining step of this process so it shouldn't take me more than a couple of hours (this is a lifelong problem that also translates to me thinking any place I know the route to will take me "about 15 minutes" to get to).
I ran into some issues and had to re-pin several times, and as the birds started chirping, the sun came up and the alarm for work went off it started to dawn on me that I WASN'T going to finish. This was an earth-shattering revelation. I have always believed that if I work hard enough I will accomplish my goal. And I have done that (usually due to lack of pre-planning/inspiration). But not finishing? Not making deadline? WHAT? Had I lost my mojo? Was I going crazy? Am I a failure now? Resounding yes, all around.
I took a little outfit I had bought as a backup to my friend, whose daughter is gorgeous. They actually had sofa throw pillows in a very similar pattern to one of the fabrics I chose for the quilt so it was extra disappointing that I didn't have the handmade gift ready. I mailed it to her a couple of weeks later.
I still think about that morning. It was like an end of an era. The pseudo-invincibility I had cultivated all those years of pushing the limit and coming up with something good from all that pressure sort of deflated like a balloon you let go of before tying the knot. I think of it every time I want to put something off till later.
But then I put it off anyway.