Motivated by Shame pt. 1


Although life taught me early on that procrastination could lead to unfavorable results, the lessons of the past still haven’t kept me from dashing out of my front door with 10 minutes to get to work on time, hairbrush in one hand, breakfast in the other.  It seems that no man, woman, or child can curb my relentless addiction to waiting until the last possible minute to handle my business.  But one dirty little motivator always manages to get me back on track when I least expect it. ‘Tis true that I can be motivated by shame.

Exhibit A (as if anyone needs convincing): My 11th grade government teacher. Mrs. B**** tasked us with creating a presidential campaign slogan and including it on design for a pin. My slogan was a creative play on my first name, but my design left a LOT to be desired. I knew this heading into class that day, as I had struggled to complete the assignment out of sheer laziness and oh–here’s that word again–procrastination. I sheepishly handed in my paper and eased into my seat, prepared for a lecture, but what Mrs. B had in store for me would stick with me for life.

Before I could fully grasp what was happening, she laid into me with the mother of all tirades.

“…And next,” she began, “we have a project from someone who consistently has the highest grades in this class…one of my best students to be exact. Which is why I am SO disappointed in this assignment, and it PISSES me off that she would even submit something like this.” She then held up my slogan, which was printed in plain, black letters, the lack of effort leaping off the page.  I felt like slithering out of my desk and out the door, but shock and humiliation pinned me to my seat as if they were blocks of concrete in my lap.

She finally ended her scathing assessment of my laziness by demanding that I redo the assignment and turn it in the next day. My face burned with anger and embarrassment. Even though I hatched a plan to slice her tires at the end of the year, that evening, I went home and created the BEST pin EVARRR. I almost didn’t redo the assignment because I didn’t want her to think her lethal lecture moved me. But it did.

Slacking from a scramble-brained high school kid who lacked focus? Forgivable. But there was no excuse for the grownup me who spent my hard-earned cash on piano lessons, only to skip practicing on a regular basis. By this time I had a job, a husband, bills and health benefits. Yet my penchant for procrastinating forced my patient teacher’s hand. I guess she grew tired of me fumbling over the same song week after week which is the only possible explanation for her making me run through that song one final time even though her next students (two 8-year-olds) sat behind me and listened as I sweated and stumbled through yet another ragged version of “Gathering Shamrocks.”

After that humiliating debacle, I gathered what was left of my pride and left her house without making eye contact. Embarrassed beyond belief? Yep. But I made a practicing schedule and stuck to it.

Now I won’t pretend that the procrastination struggle isn’t an ongoing factor in my day-to-day life. Full disclosure: I should’ve posted this an hour ago…Despite that pitiful admission, I actually have a list of things I do to combat this harrowing habit that I will share in part two of this post. Stay tuned!



photo credit: Fettlaus via photopin cc

2 thoughts on “Motivated by Shame pt. 1”

  1. As much as I procrastinate, I don’t think any of my personal stories of embarrassment from procrastination can compete with yours, Kenya — especially not the piano story. Ha! Both your teachers were TOUGH!

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