It’s been somewhat of a pattern in my life to tire of projects before they’re finished. This was first evidenced by the mountain of unfinished stories I have in notebooks under my childhood bed. I would get a great idea, start writing, and then run out of ideas and peter off, until my next great idea. This bell curve of interest bleeds over into other areas of my life, too. When I’m at the beginning or middle of a project, I’m ready to do hard work. I know what it will take to get to the end, and I’m prepared for that. I am able to focus on work and get things done. But when I get close to end, I start to get antsy. I just want the thing to be over already. I start rushing, or even half-assing work, sometimes at the expense of quality. I get so close to being done that I lose interest. I do this with papers, group projects, and even job interviews.
I attribute this tendency to my impatience. I don’t know why I’m an impatient person. I think part of it is that I like to be productive. When I’m in the middle of a project, I can see things taking shape. I can spend a few hours working and have something to show for it. The bulk of the work is done in the middle of projects, and I like that. I like seeing the results of my actions. I even like editing — the big editing that comes after the word-vomit stage. But when projects start to come to an end, a lot of the work to be done is just tweaking, perfecting. And I know this is important, sometimes more important than the production of the project. But to me, it feels less productive than sheer content creation because there is less to show when I’m done. The words or results are already there; I’m just changing them to look or sound better. It feels like busy work.
My mom noticed this about me early on. At the end of a school year, or at the final level of a competition, I would lose interest in my work and start complaining about how I just wanted to be done. And she would remind me to finish well. “I know you’re tired of this,” she’d acknowledge, “but you need to finish well. You’re almost done, and you need to keep doing your best until the end.”
Those words came to mind this week as I was going from class to class. At this point in my life, I’ve been in school for 17 years. I enjoy learning, but I am so tired of sitting in class. I cannot describe how pointless it feels at this stage. I am now what most people would call an adult, and I’m ready to live the adult life. I’m ready to officially have my own home that is not a college apartment. I’m ready to spend my days working for pay (and learning on the job!) rather than paying to learn. I’m ready to be financially independent; I’m ready to make decisions; I’m ready to contribute to society in a way I haven’t been able to yet.
But like it or not, I still have 5 weeks till graduation. I know it’ll go by fast, but it’s felt slow. I still have two group projects and a capstone paper to finish, not to mention finals in my other two classes. I still have meetings to go to. I still have events to work. As ready as I am to just be done, it’s not going to go any faster because I’m sitting here wishing it will.
That’s why I’m going to try to take “finish well” as my motto for the rest of the semester. If I can remember that, I’ll be able to enjoy these last 5 weeks instead of wishing them away.