The 9 People You Become While Trying To Write A Paper

The philosopher. You’re ready to start this paper, and you’re ready to be smarter once you’ve finished it. You feel inspired and tenacious. You are ready to learn. You want to think about the deeper meanings in the subject you’ve been assigned, and you want this paper to be so brilliant and eye-opening that it makes your professor weep.

The emotional wreck. You’ve been at it for 5 minutes and you already hate yourself. You can’t do this. This is going to take you forever! Why did you put this off for so long? Why did you choose this major? Why are you even in college? You start freaking out and telling yourself you suck at everything. You try to keep typing along, but it feels hopeless. You have a quick panic attack, followed by a brief inner monologue where you consider dropping out of school right now to become a “digital marketing professional.” Then you take a breath, suck it up, and get back to work.

The negotiator. You made it through the standard emotional meltdown stage of writing a paper, but now you still have to fill 8 pages with ideas that you’ve recycled from Wikipedia. You’ve gotten through 2 sentences since you had your meltdown and the fact that you feel accomplished about this is a problem. All you want to do right now is watch YouTube videos and take online quizzes and stalk the photos of people who are Insta-famous. So you start to reward yourself with things in order to get through this paper. Every time you write a paragraph, you get to go on Facebook for 10 minutes. Whenever you get to a new page, you reward yourself with 5 minutes of a Parks and Recreation episode (which actually means you end up watching the whole episode but who cares shut up). You realize that if you didn’t give yourself a reward for every sentence you type out, you’d probably be finished 3 hours ahead of schedule, but whatever. College.

The nut job. So, you might have lost it a little bit by this point. You feel like the crazy old man that lives alone in the lighthouse. Because it’s 4 in the morning. And everyone else is asleep. Except for you. You’re writing about the symbolism of the freaking sled in Citizen Kaneand you feel like the world’s biggest pretentious douche bag. You start talking out loud to yourself and you start cursing Orson Welles for making “the world’s greatest film” that is actually just the worst. You stop, make a list of the 10 weirdest things about Orson Welles’s face (number 1 being that he always looks constipated) and you move on.

The person who eats their feelings. You’ve retreated into a feeling of hopelessness again. You need some way to get yourself out of this rut because you haven’t written anything in 47 minutes. You tell yourself to get through one more page and then you can have 2 cookies. You accidentally eat 11 instead of 2, but you feel better nonetheless. Now you’re 1 page closer to the finish line, but you’re still not satisfied. So after you go through some ice cream and a sandwich and a couple swigs of maple syrup, you tell yourself you can do this.

The infant. You can’t do this. You just ate so much food that you think you’re about to give birth to something. You start crying uncontrollably. Supposedly you’re crying about your paper, but really it’s about student loans and stress and the fact that you were never able to emotionally process The Fault in Our Stars. Instead of being an adult and telling yourself to stop crying and get it together, you decide to make it worse by YouTubing videos of soldiers returning home to their families. Now you are a sobbing mess and you’re wiping snot off your face. You’ve regressed into an infant and you wonder if you should quit while you’re way, way behind.

The caffeinated psychopath. It’s 5:30 in the morning and you haven’t gone to bed, but naturally you decide to make yourself a super strong cup of coffee. You drink it in 4 sips and then get started on another one. It has cured you’re infantile behavior, and you are basically bouncing off the walls. Your fingers are shaking, but you’re finally functioning again so you don’t care.

The machine. You have hit your stride. You are just nailing it. You are tearing through this paper and making it your bitch. You’re making this paper take you out for a super classy and expensive dinner at a steakhouse, and then you’re slamming the door on its face at the end of the night without even saying thanks. You tear through these paragraphs and see the light at the end of the tunnel. You think you may have gone a little insane, but you don’t care. You’re almost done.

The rebel. You’ve hit your closing paragraph and you’re just over it. You have nothing else to say but you need to fill one last fourth of a page. You start typing stuff that doesn’t even make sense, but whatever, you’re a rebel and it’s time for bed. You type one last sentence that might not be completely in English, hit save, and slam your computer closed. Then you vow never to procrastinate a paper again. Until next week at least. TC mark

image – New Girl

Kim Quindlen

I'm a staff writer for Thought Catalog. I like comedy and improv. I live in Chicago. My Uber rating is just okay.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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