I was going to write here that this, this would be the absolute really for serious last time EVER that I would pull an all-nighter to get something finished by a deadline. I was going to emphatically state this, inscribe it into the mythology of the universe and force myself to adhere to the formula henceforth and forevermore.
The thing is, I already did that. I did it last time I had a submission deadline that I’d left too late to get a good headstart on.
And the time before that.
And the time before that.
And I’m pretty damn sure the time before that, too.
And yet, here I am again, and I have finally learnt a valuable lesson: stop saying shit is the last time. Just stop.
But not because it doesn’t work, because sometimes it does. Stop because it doesn’t matter.
Yeah, sometimes you need that little moral push, the put-my-foot-down moment that makes things concrete and gives you a measure against which you can hold yourself accountable, and that’s good. But this hasn’t worked for me. I’ve tried it so many times, and just as many times it hasn’t worked. Putting my foot down when it comes to my bad academic habits just doesn’t seem to be a thing that I have the capacity to do. It’s disappointing, let me tell you. But if that’s what it is, then that’s what it is.
And yes, it sucks to think that this chapter is going to be half-formed and shitty and turn the next several hours into an agonizing, sleep-deprived mess. It’s frustrating to know that I already learnt all the reasons why an all-nighter sucks ass the last time I pulled an all-nighter, not to mention every single all-nighter before that, and yet it still hasn’t been enough to motivate me to avoid this one. It makes me feel useless and weak and like I have no control over myself, like I’m a failure and I’ll never stop being a failure, because despite all the things that should be enough motivation for me to change my ways, I still haven’t.
So I think, therefore, the problem is that these things that I think should be enough …
They just aren’t.
I need something else, and I know what it is. It’s to keep going.
“This is the last time” implies a stopping-point, a new chapter, or episode, or full-on franchise reboot. It implies starting over. But even if it hasn’t been a particularly smooth journey, I’ve come a long goddamn way already. Why the fuck would I want to start over? I’ve put all of this work into it, and the thing is that, even if only incrementally, it is getting smoother. It is evening out. This isn’t like my ridiculous, overblown, over-thought, under-written, 15-year-old self-fanfic passion project that, for the third time, I really need to extinguish from existence. That doesn’t need to start over, though: that just needs to die and, this time, not fucking come back. I’ve already tried restarting and rebooting that, dozens of times, and it still doesn’t work. Just like every time I insist on saying to myself “never again” every time I’m staring down the barrel of another all-nighter, it doesn’t stick. Because starting all over again is bullshit. Just quit.
Or keep going.
So I’m going to keep going. Is this the last all-nighter I’ll ever pull? I don’t fucking know; I can’t fucking know. I don’t know how life is going to turn out, what compromises I’m going to have to make with my schedule, and on the flipside I do know that I’m still struggling with a fuckton of anxiety and self-loathing, sprinkled with the odd depressive episode, so insisting that I have some kind of moral obligation to maintain a flawless time-keeping schedule is masochistic at best. In fact it actually directly feeds into and perpetuates the kinds of negative, toxic things that I tell myself over and over again, the same kinds of things that get me into the all-nighter situation to begin with, the “but I don’t know where to start”, the “but I can’t write it well in this amount of time”, the “but it’s too late now anyway I left it too long I’m such an idiot why don’t I ever learn”. It’s two sides of the same coin, not some kind of counter-balance, when I drill myself for not getting it right.
And it goes without saying that there will also probably be more of that in my future. But it is getting better. Incrementally, the shit is subsiding, and my pace is picking up. Maybe not this time. Maybe not the time after this time. Maybe not even the time after that. But at some point, it will even out.
If I keep going. And only if I keep going.
So let’s write this fucker.