Andrew Johnson

Deadlines Can Suck It

Andrew Johnson

May(be) 5, 2022

Sometimes it’s okay to be behind schedule.

I had a lot go wrong this semester that helped put me behind. Although I do tend to run behind (Hofstadter’s Law is basically my life motto), this semester the rain decided – in true Vancouver fashion – to pour. I had a run-in with everything from medical issues to immigration concerns, and I’m already behind in general (my go-to answer to the dreaded “what year are you” question is “I’m in my final semester, and I have been for about 2 years now”).

Being so far behind was really getting to me all semester long, and that ramped up big time toward the end of February/March. (And if I’m being honest, it’s still getting to me, but I’m processing it better now.) However, it was roughly two weeks before finals when all my tutees started coming in also massively behind. Granted, part of me wants to chuckle smugly when freshmen talk about how far behind they are – just you wait! – but something about being able to say, “yeah bruh, me too” helped me ground myself a bit.

I’m still not sure what it is – late-stage capitalism, academic toxicity, social comparison, imposter syndrome, or obsessive time-orientation – that makes it feel like such a bad thing to be behind on deadlines. There’s no objective reason why it’s bad to run behind schedule. (Yes, I’ve heard all the prattling about how it devalues people’s time or whatever, but this is nothing but neurotypical propaganda – utterly meaningless drivel tantamount to ND-phobia to somebody with both ADHD and highly valued friends.)

It’s taken a lot of mental rewiring (and support from many people) even to begin readjusting to being okay running a bit behind. It doesn’t make me a worse person, nor does it make my work less valuable. (Also, you never know who else is running behind and could use the extra ~10% past the deadline to make progress on their own stuff.) What is valuable is 1) doing the work in the first place, 2) finishing (or opting not to – it’s my choice after all) eventually, and 3) keeping an eye on mental health, both mine and others’.

And when the deadlines come knocking, take a page out of Shawn and Gus’s book and have this on standby.

Post-scriptum: I am aware that this is a fairly privileged perspective to take – I’m about as WEIRD as it gets, not to mention white, male, and not obviously LGBT-presenting. As such, I don’t mean to communicate that this is the way I think the world is, nor do I necessarily think this reflection contains generally good advice. Instead, my hope is that I can leverage some of my privilege to bring some minority concerns (in this case, ND concerns especially) to the forefront of conversation.