Monday Roundtable: I’m Not Gonna Do It

We all have things we put off sometimes — be honest, there is something you’re supposed to be doing right now as you read this roundtable! (That doesn’t mean you should stop; it can wait.) That’s a whole different beast, though; the thing that we aren’t just procrastinating right now, but that we always do, even though we know it’s a persistent problem and we are maybe slowly ruining our lives as a result. Fun! Anyways, here’s ours.

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Heather Hogan, Senior Editor

Just rinsing out my tea mug and using it again! I don’t know why I can’t do this! It’s not even on my to-do list but it’s the task that plagues me every day! I finish a cup of tea and I put the cup in the sink and then when I want more tea I get a new cup out of the cabinet and on and on and on until I have an entire dishwasher just full of tea cups. It’s ridiculous! Especially because I drink multiple cups of tea throughout the day!

I also strive to keep my inbox clean, but: lol.

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Laneia, Executive Editor

Making any appointment with a medical professional. I don’t know what my major damage is, but I’m capable of adding this to my weekly to-do list for 60+ weeks before actually doing it. I guess I’m terrified of the results?? And I have an aversion to leaving my home and driving somewhere where I’ll be forced to talk about myself, much less talk about myself while I wear a paper gown. I mean.

Last fall, because of Heather’s example, I did finally see a gynecologist for the first time in a LITERAL DECADE, and wow how my anxiety levels spiked all over the damn place! But I went!! And then, after smears and biopsies and other things that were horrible and invasive and painful, my doctor informed me she was moving to NEVADA, leaving me with ONLY MALE DOCTORS at that particular practice and no. That is not going to happen. So now I have to find another place altogether and y’all, the ‘Find a Doctor’ tool on my insurance company’s website IS BROKEN and has been FOR MONTHS so I can’t even look to see who’s in my fucking network!!!!

So maybe this is why I don’t go to the doctor ever!! BECAUSE THEY MAKE IT SO IMPOSSIBLE. Wow I love a good yell first thing on a Monday!

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Carrie Wade, Staff Writer

Ironing, dry cleaning, or anything more complicated than putting my clothes in the wash, moving them to the dryer, then putting them away is not happening. Or at least not with any sort of regularity. It makes no sense because I am a person who likes things neat and clean and also likes feeling fancy. And yet! I think I resent the amount of work ironing takes for someone with questionable fine motor skills, but I resent the idea of paying someone to do it for me even more — hence why dry cleaning likewise never happens. I eventually get it together every time but it takes at least twice as long as it should.

(I did in fact drop off my dry cleaning immediately after writing this answer. Thank you for keeping me honest.)

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Kayla Kumari, Staff Writer

Oh god this is so boring but literally the only thing I drag my feet on doing or just don’t do altogether is anything having to do with going to the post office. I just! Hate going to the post office! But who doesn’t? Most of the time I complete my entire to-do list in a timely-ish manner, because not doing so would just cause me way too much anxiety, but when it comes to mailing anything important, I have been known to drop the ball. For a freelancer, I’m pretty on-fucking-top of my taxes in terms of making sure I’m saving the right amount, but then I’ll miss my quarterly payments and have to pay a small penalty because I didn’t mail the check in on time. It’s real dumb. But I just don’t wanna go to the post office ever.

Ditto the pharmacy though. I also hate going to the pharmacy. Back when I was on birth control, I would put off picking it up all the time. And recently, I was prescribed a new antidepressant and waited, like, three weeks before picking it up! Not good! I have a lot of anxiety about medicine (which medicine can HELP ME WITH, OF COURSE!) and sometimes just getting to the pharmacy to pick it up is such a roadblock for me mentally.

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Erin Sullivan, Staff Writer

I’m never going to make the pasta. I’m just not gonna do it. Just take the stuff outta the bag and put it in the water and go, bitch. One time I tried to make homemade ravioli without a pasta roller and thought I’d made it thin enough – could read through it even – and ended up making what I assume is still a sentient batch of beings out in the world, wreaking havoc with their angry, mealy pod-bodies. May god forgive me.

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Creatrix Tiara, Staff Writer

Shred my old documents with identifying information. After a fruitless search for a friend with a shredder, I just got my own. But I haven’t unboxed it yet. I’ve just been too busy. Gah.

That and consult with a lawyer to figure out my eligibility for Australian citizenship, but given that the rules change every five seconds I don’t know how useful that is.

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Alaina Monts, Staff Writer

Oh wow, I’m not sure about this because I actually thrive off of getting a to-do list done. Like, I won’t make a to-do list unless I can be absolutely positive that I’ll finish most of it, because seeing an unfinished to-do list too many days in a row is a recipe for depression.

But I guess that right now, the thing sitting on my to-do list but not getting done is emailing my advisor. I’ve made a few professional fuck ups in the past six months, and I find apologizing in a professional context so much harder than in a friendly context. Like, what reason does my advisor have to accept my apology? She has no real personal relationship, so I feel like it’s harder to prove to her that I do really mean my apology. I’m scared she’ll think I’m not really sorry and won’t want to have a professional relationship with me anymore, and some masochistic part of me would rather sit in this weird liminal space where our relationship just sort of stays in stasis. I just…I hate doing things wrong. And I hate having to fix things I did wrong because then I have to admit that I did something wrong! Everything is very hard, you know? I do not write this task on my to-do list most days.

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Molly Priddy, Staff Writer

It took me two months to check my new mailbox when I moved. I kept putting it off, because it’s at the opposite end of the complex, I don’t have my mailbox keys, nobody is sending me mail anyway, do I even exist, does mail stop arriving for someone who has stopped existing, will the mailman be mad at me for not checking it, anything important I ship to my work anyway.

PS I checked it and people were sending me mail for sure.

Alexis Smith, Staff Writer

I’ve technically been in a coding bootcamp for a year and I’ve just been stuck. I had two daily reminders: write for 15 minutes! and code! and I never got the second part done. My mentor was leaving the bootcamp and I had ghosted for a while because I’d fallen so far behind and even though she’s been nothing but supportive, I was like I’M A FAILURE DON’T LOOK AT ME. They were acquired by another company last year and totally changed the format of the program about halfway through my time there and I was angry and stressed and really have basically cut off my own nose to spite my face, by like avoiding coding and learning about programming because instead of using my words to talk about how the changes weren’t great, that I didn’t want a new mentor because I specifically chose her for a reason (I DON’T WANT MEN TEACHING ME ANYTHING), I just did what I usually do and just like waited for it to be long enough that I could berate myself about not doing something so that I could fulfill the belief that I’m a failure.

Anyways, I started coding/learning again and it’s a lot better when I like… decide to do it for me instead of a pace I can’t keep up with, who knew!

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Archie Bongiovanni, Cartoonist

Call my dad. My dad’s good, we have an okay relationship. He’s supportive, caring, and depressed. He writes me weekly postcards, texts often and in the past two months started to use they/them pronouns for me without me asking him to. He’s the sole care-taker for my mom and could use some support and friendship and he isn’t even demanding about it: he just wants a fucking phone call. The EASY response to why I never call him is because there’s a big time difference between where I live and where he does. I think the actual reason is a bit more complicated. He was great in so many aspects, but was very depressed and so so angry when I was growing up. I think I’ve checked out from a lot of it when I was a kid, so even now it’s hard to fully grasp the full extent because I feel so removed from it all. I’m also so used to extending empathy that I feel like I can excuse and understand any behavior no matter how harmful it was. So now he’s older and experiencing waves of melancholy and loneliness and I’m like “wow that’s sad”, but ultimately feel just as checked out as I was as a kid.

Also though, maybe I’m just a bad kid.

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Carmen Phillips, Staff Writer

MY LAUNDRY!!! Every Monday I open a new spread in my passion planner and I write in my To-Do List, “Try to do your laundry on time this week. Try to fold your clothes before the pile grows larger than your actual couch.” Every week I fail.

Objectively speaking, laundry is such a simple task! I’m even lucky enough to have a machine in my apartment!! At least when I had to drag my clothes to the laundromat, I had a viable excuse. Now? It’s just a mental block. I hate the effort it takes to fold my panties into a pretty square when they’re just going to end up balled together in my drawer after a few days. Also, why do we have sheets for our beds? They are awful. There’s no way to fold them without dragging them on the dirty floor, which defeats the entire purpose of laundry to begin with! That’s right, I said it.

(My second place finisher is probably “returning phone calls or texts from friends and relatives.” I have social anxiety y’all! Even when I know you love me, it takes a helluva lot for me to respond. We are just all imperfect humans out here trying to do our best. Forgive me.)

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Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor

I’m a messy person; I thrive in chaos. I more or less know where my stuff is and like, I’m not gross, but I’m not great about cleaning my room. At any given time, my dresser is covered with clothes I’m eventually getting rid of but haven’t decided what to do with yet, a box of nonsense is sitting in the middle of the floor, my bed is never made ever. I recognize I am an adult and I would be more efficient/feel better about myself if I did these things, but unless someone I care about is coming over, I am probably nottttt in a hurry to deal with it.

I recently dealt with this by going all Bobby from Queer Eye on my room, purchasing a couch, moving furniture, painting, installing shelves. Now I have a cute room that’s still a giant mess. I guess it’s an improvement.

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Riese, Editor-in-Chief

Calling and making appointments. For literally anything. I just… hate calling places to make appointments? Bless us all, it’s now often possible for me to book a haircut online, so at least that’s taken care of. I think I get overwhelmed by figuring out when I have time to go to an appointment, but beyond that I’m not sure what stops me from doing it. A bizarre twist to this is that when I have access to a landline phone — like when I’m at my Mom’s or when I had an office job and had a desk with a landline — I’m slightly better at making appointments. Something about the persistent inadequacy of cell reception just stresses me out. If I’m at the doctor and they’re like, “do you want to book your next appointment right now or do you want to call?” I’m always like NO WE HAVE TO BOOK IT NOW. OTHERWISE WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN!!!!

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Alyssa Andrews, Cartoonist

I am next-level when it comes to finishing 70% of a project and then burning the hell out and procrastinating the last 30% until it’s deadline time and it absolutely has to be done. I have a really deep-seated fear of failing, and I’m always really critical of myself and it often leads to a lot of anxiety in the finish line. The good news is that I do somehow manage to push through and get things done, and make the work I want to make, but the tail-end of my to-do’s are often really hard for me to get through and I’d give A N Y T H I N G to be better at it.

I’m also really bad at remembering your birthday. sorry, pal.

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Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor

Oh god. Anything related to email? Like, my inbox is never going to be at zero. I want it to be – I dream of the day when that may become a reality – but I think it would take weeks at this point to go through all the junk and find the stuff that’s really important, and even then how relevant is it to respond to an email someone sent in 2015 because I’ve “finally found the time to answer this properly!” That’s the problem – when something appears in my inbox and it looks like it might take longer than 4 seconds to answer it, I set it aside so I’ll “answer it properly when I have time” and, well. Here we are. To everyone I owe an email to – freelancers, editors, my mother, my current crush, my crush from 2015, Autostraddle readers, all the people I’m forgetting because my email gives me so much anxiety I kind of black it out of my brain most of the time…I sincerely apologize. I’m probably never going to email you. At this point I may not even respond to a text or a DM because everything’s become a bit too instant and a bit too overwhelming, ya know? You should call me. I miss phone calls. I’m sorry. 


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39 Comments

  1. Alaina I just wanna say that I see you and it’s ok! I also have anxiety about fuck-ups in academia. We’re required to answer to students within three days and a few months ago I “missed” one of the student emails and actually never replied and they complained about it to the undergrad office. I was mortified and thought for sure everyone thought I was shit at my job. I’ve also missed more important things/failed at organising stuff requiring someone else to come in last minute and fix it. But hey, we’re all learning!

    Here’s the trick: find yourself a couple of supportive older mentors (people who’ve been in the industry for at least a few years). They’ll tell you all of this is perfectly normal and no one is perfect and to forgive yourself!

    Academia is hard as it is, remember to be kind to yourself <3

  2. Don’t worry about Academic fuck ups!!!! I just added extra year to my undergrad cause I was too anxious to ask a professor for research I wanted to do, and the class is offered in a way that I had to add a extra semester. shit happens

  3. Buying a new laptop/tablet!! My Dell is literally 10 years old!!! And even though I have saved the money to buy something new, it gives me REAL ANXIETY to even think of buying something. I’ve been to Best Buy no less than 4 times with the intentions to buy and come out empty handed. I find it’s a hopeful subject for me.
    Oh and folding my laundry … yeah…I have to “reward” myself with a beer or Grey Goose martini to get that done.

  4. Email is also my number one problem. I don’t know why but it causes me so much anxiety. I’d really rather just talk to everyone in person. If I ever become in charge of anything than people who have something to say to me are just gonna have to come to my house and say it.

  5. Taking my vitamin D! I used to be sooo good at doing it every single day, but after like 2yrs I think I realized oh every single day is a lot of remembering to do a thing and just stopped. I have to take it to prevent incredibly painful muscles cramps and some other fun muscle related stuff. So I do take it but not every day and not without a lot of hassle and tricks to get me to remember and actually DO it. I haven’t taken it today and I could use this as a reminder to get up and do it…but I know myself :/

    • I’m the same way about my thyroid pills. I forget I should take them first thing in the morning every day and when I realize I might have skipped 5 days in a row. And then I get it in my head that I should wait until Monday so I start the week fresh. Or I remember I should take them but I have just finished eating so I should wait at least half an hour and then it just slips my mind.

  6. Oh god Laneia I just did a full-body shiver at the words “find a doctor tool.” Those fucking things!!! It is truly nearly impossible to find someone who is in-network and taking new patients and is a woman/actually listens to you. I see you and your thing is valid!!

  7. Been putting off my feeling, which she may or may not know? Like there is a whole album I can’t listen to because it gives me the feels(re bawling my eyes out driving on an empty freeway at 1:30am) about her. That maybe I need clarity on what boundaries are there in this relationship. You know what I mean?

  8. I once didn’t check my snail mailbox for over a year. They started returning all of my mail to sender. I had to get my amazon.com deliveries sent to parcel lockers. Friends got birthday cards returned to them. It was RIDICULOUS. But I just couldn’t do it. In the end, when I made my mom go to the post office with me, it took literally three seconds to get it sorted out.

  9. Ironing is bullshit! (I don’t even own an iron. If it can’t be sufficiently de-wrinkled with a spray bottle half an hour before I have to leave, then I don’t want it in my life.)

    I didn’t go to the dentist for FIFTEEN YEARS (luckily I have good teeth)!

    And oh, the unfinished to-do list being an anxiety/depression trigger is such a thing. I need them because I’m forgetful, but ughhhh. Anyway gonna go call the vet now, thank you for the motivational talk <3

  10. Mine is driving, I’ve been putting it off for a really long time. Let me rephrase that, getting back into driving, I know how to drive and I have my driver’s license but everytime I get behind the wheel I start panicking and have anxiety. I’m really not comfortable in the drivers seat. Unfortunately I don’t live in a city where I can easily access Ubers, taxis, a bus or even walk to where I need to get to. So until I’m able to move to a better city I need to get over my stupid fear and start practicing again.

    • Oh I feel this. I let my learner’s permit expire twice, and only finally got my license at age 39 because I lived in a smaller town.

      Also though I don’t think this is a stupid or unreasonable fear! What does everyone tell people who have a phobia about flying? “Don’t worry, it’s statistically much safer than driving!” Great, thanks ?

    • Me tooooooo! I literally hate driving because it gives me so much anxiety. So I don’t. I’m so comfortable taking Lyfts or trains everywhere And it’s cheaper than a monthly car payment and maintenance. I’m lucky to live in a big city where it’s possible. It doesn’t help that owning a car is a measure of how “grown up” you are either. Like me not wanting to get t-boned by an idiot going 95 in a 40 because he’s too impatient to drive slow, automatically takes away from my “grown” points. F that.

  11. The trick to sheet folding is just to bundle them into something vaguely resembling a neat pile because screw that. Or folding them on the bed.

    Also you can totally pay people to iron for you! Lots of stay at home types advertise ironing services in my local paper (i just don’t bother bc see above).

    Right now I cannot get myself to leave the dang house. It’s just so much nicer to stay in pjs all day

  12. I procrastinate on fucking EATING. It’s so weird. I don’t have an eating disorder, and I don’t even think it’s an ADHD executive function problem like most of my other issues. I have a bowl of pistachios next to me and I’m starving, haven’t eaten all day, and yet….. there they sit. Probably until it’s 4:30pm and it’s too late to eat lunch but too early for dinner and I have to meet someone at 6pm so I don’t really have time to get takeout, so oops, another inadvertent fast day

    I guess this probably is executive function now that I think about it. But it’s still weird. Gonna eat some of these pistachios and then go out for indian food I think.

    • I have done this. I think I tend to do it more when I am depressed.

      Probably not related to your situation, but when I got pregnant – like the first few days after, before I knew at all – for two or three days in a row I got out of bed late, made it as far as a chair, and then…sat there. For like, kid you not, six or eight hours. Despite desperately needing to pee and being so hungry I could’ve gnawed my own arm off if I had actually raised it up to my teeth. Would finally get up to use the bathroom when I heard my husband get home from work, and then be like FEED ME WHAT IS FOR DINNER I WILL EAT IT ALL NOW NOW NOW. Once we knew what was up I was like ahh…yeah…guess that was kinda obviously not just “I’m tired from the travel back home.” I did not get a lot done academically that summer…

      Also Indian food nom nom. Good call.

  13. Oh man y’all I feel so seen.

    I didn’t check my school email for over a year because the thought that I might have a message from my adviser at the time was so stressful I’d feel my heart rate and respiration start speeding up just at the thought of opening the program. Couldn’t afford the energy it would take to shield myself from or recover from the anxiety/depression spiral that dude could put me into with a few dismissive words…so instead I had constant but lower-level anxiety about the fact that I was ignoring my email and, if he had in fact sent me anything, pissing him off and proving my incompetence to him by not responding.

    The thing I am procrastinating now, and have been for months, despite the consequences I fear, is job hunting. It’s that time of the academic hiring cycle when I need to be busting my butt…but I’m not even sure that’s what I want, and I dread putting myself in another high-stress, long-workday, constant-exhaustion, constant-self-doubt cycle. Been there, done that, got the PhD, did not at all like what it did to my mental health. Ugh. Need to talk about it, especially to my hubby, but I have nothing new to say and rehashing it just feels miserable. Bleh ok gonna go read something more fun now. Understanding and hugs to all of us who are like “omfg why can’t I just -” (I keep thinking I _should_ go for it because the good parts – ya know, the actual sciencey parts? and some teaching? – sound awesome and I would be a fucking great adviser. OK gonna leave on that note before I spiral back to the ugh part!)

  14. Add me to the email train – something about it just spikes my anxiety through the roof and makes me go all NOPE on doing it. Last week when I was sick I made the mistake of turning off the email notifications on my phone app (the only thing that was keeping me at least aware of them) and I haven’t turned them back on. All I wanted was to be sick in peace and now I’m healthy and anxious. Pretty sure this has resulted in at least one ignored email from my diss chair.

    I feel like we need a queer ‘check your email’ support group so we can all be terrified and do it anyways together.

  15. Oh my god Carmen, why are you folding your underwear if you hate folding laundry? Folding underwear is the most infuriating waste of time ever. Unless you often want a specific pair of underwear, just neatly stack it and put it in a drawer like that. It looks nice and takes basically no time.

    • If you must do something, boxers in one stack, ones that won’t show under yoga pants in another, and everything else in a third. Or whatever. Minimal sorting so you can tell your conscience or your mother that of COURSE you don’t just shove all your undies in a drawer.

      Ooo oo! Shove them all in the drawer and then tell your conscience or your mother that you got so inspired by folding your undies that you decided to take up underwear origami and these complex shapes are a marker of elite skill. They only look shoved-in to the uninitiated. “Mom/Conscience, did you know that automotive engineers consulted origami experts to develop airbags that could pack down compactly and yet deploy smoothly in tiny fractions of a second? That, but with my undies.” Bonus points if you keep a straight face and calm, matter-of-fact voice.

  16. I have so many grad school fuck ups. Like, I’m trying to finish the 2 year program in 4.5 years. TRYING… I mean it could easily go to 5. The thing is, no one is at their mental best when they’re lacking confidence. But also executive functioning issue, maybe. Also, I can’t remember anything anymore. Like the last 5 years of my life seem like a haze. I feel like I can’t make connections and really LEARN but I have to pretend this isn’t so. Ugh.

  17. oh wow this was posted at exactly the right time! i am currently on hold (12 mins in) phoning the post office people, which I’ve been putting off for the past month…….because they lost a parcel containing a library book, which I avoided posting for 2 weeks because I also hate going to the post office, and then suddenly it was the day the book was due back, at my uni library across the country, and also that day I was hungover and had a train to catch, and a friend I was with offered to post the book for me, and I was like yes plssss but didn’t ask her to do it recorded delivery bc i didn’t want her to have to spend much money, and now HERE I AM with a £103 library fine which is TOTALLY my fault…..and now I’m 16 minutes on hold on the phone and the hold music is making me quite anxious but I guess at least I am trying to contact the postal service before I give in and pay a ridiculous fine………Learn from my mistakes kids! That job you don’t wanna do? Do it TODAY (i’m okay)

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