“We have more ability than will power, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible.”
~François de la Rochefoucauld
I almost didn’t write this week.
And not without good reason, mind you. This week was my final week at home before returning to college on Thursday. Therefore, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent on various errands and with friends whom I am now removed from for the next two months. Thursday flew by the roadside as I drove the 12(ish) hours back to college. Friday and my need for orderliness demanded I organize and move all my belongings into the new room.
With this in mind, I awoke today with a thought: Why don’t I just take a week off from my blog? It’s been a hectic week; I’ve been busy settling into the new routine. It’s a perfectly acceptable excuse. I’ll just resume next week, maybe even write two posts then.
To the vast majority of you, and possibly all of you, this thought process is far from foreign. While each excuse is different in specific content, it typically follows a similar logical pattern. Perhaps the most universal aspect is the final two sentences, in which we attempt to convince ourselves of the legitimacy of the excuse and follow it with a vague promise of overcompensation next time.
I find it amusing and revealing of the nature of excuses that we often spend more time attempting to persuade ourselves than the time required to convince most others. Often coupled with this rationalization is the overcompensation, which aims to reduce guilt. If I accomplish twice as much tomorrow, next week, or next year, that will absolve me of and compensate for this failure. This mentality treats responsibility as a quota to be filled before life expires, rather than a daily struggle.
The ability to make excuses is one of humanity’s greatest talents. Humans are extremely well versed in removing blame and responsibility from their shoulders. Too tired, too stressed, long day/week, too busy, too sick, and so on–the list is seemingly endless. I searched “excuses” on the internet, and many of the top hits were sites that listed excuses for getting out of work and such. We love to make excuses.
“Maybe you don’t like your job, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, well nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but you know, there’s no escape, there’s no excuse, so just suck up and be nice.”
But what are excuses? Excuses are the manifestations of doubt and/or laziness. Rather than simply say you can’t or shouldn’t, these voices try to convince we are not able to achieve the goal, but for supposedly good reasons. Excuses are, fundamentally, lies dressed in the clothes of rational reasoning.
With that said, it is not my place to judge another for the excuses they make. I write this argument not at you, but as a call for self-reflection. Only you can rightly judge the validity of your excuses or reasons preventing you from accomplishing a task. Therefore, it is my hope that each of you will take time to evaluate your habits in order to discover any excuses you have made and continue to make. This will not be easy. It will require a significant amount of self-awareness, and may cause significant pain as old scars are re-opened, but, (as I am slowly realizing) if many of life’s excuses are eliminated, doors will begin to open. Then, that fanciful dream will cease being such a fantasy.
“And I have this little litany of things they can do. And the first one, of course, is to write – every day, no excuses. It’s so easy to make excuses. Even professional writers have days when they’d rather clean the toilet than do the writing.”