Putting off procrastination: Why empowering news can be exhausting

I’m a master procrastinator – give me something simple that has to get done as soon as possible and I’ll find a way to put it off for weeks. I’m so good at putting things off that I kind of have to be proud of it – right now I’m sitting at my desk and, even though I should be working on my lab report that was due days ago, I’m desperately surfing the web for anything to do that isn’t my homework. Usually my skill is pretty benign to every aspect of my life (except for my GPA, R.I.P.), but for the past month or so, avoiding my homework has been more trouble than it’s worth.

I’ve been doing readings, responding to emails. The other day I used my free time to study for a test instead of avoiding the web – the thing that was my go-to silver bullet against being a productive member of society. I’m not reformed (even though my professors probably really hope I am.) I’m still procrastinating, but instead of putting off stress by avoiding my homework, I’ve had to start putting off stress by avoiding the internet.

It started when the Harvey Weinstein news broke – I am 100 percent here for that man being ousted for his predatory behavior and I am 1 million percent here for his victims to finally have their voices heard. Every part of me loves that more and more people are able to speak out against their abusers and manipulators (@Bill O’Riley, @Roger Ailes, @Donald Trump, @all of the other evil people who feel entitled to other people). The #MeToo movement is probably the craziest thing to come from all of this – thousands of survivors feeling emboldened by one another and sharing their stories publicly for the first time is such a powerful thing to witness.

I’m so full of joy that this is happening, that we all get to stand in this moment in history and support people who have been through the worst and have not been able to talk about it for so long. I hope that more people will continue to voice themselves, but at the same time there is a part of me that just wants the whole world to be quiet for a few seconds just so I can catch my breath.

As a survivor, reading and thinking about sexual assault every day (for the past what seems like forever) feels like running a marathon that I didn’t sign up or train for. It’s great and I’m happy that everyone around me is doing it, but at the same time it’s the worst and I’m exhausted and I want it to stop and I’m also really sweaty (which has nothing to do with the metaphor, just something to know about me). Every time a post about sexual assault pops up on one of the many screens that rule my life, my heart stops, my hand goes numb and my brain stops working and all I can do is think “is this about me?” Constantly having to relive your trauma every day isn’t always empowering – it’s really exhausting.

I’m writing this because I really need to hear it, and that probably means that other people need to hear it too. It’s okay to see another person talking about their experiences with assault and think “I just can’t read this right now.” While I will never ever promote doing your homework, I will say that it’s also okay to put off procrastinating if it means making time for yourself.

Kimberly Andreassen ’20 is from Rocky Point, N.C.