Trust30 Day 13 – Surprise yourself

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I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself.  How will you surprise yourself this week?” –Ashley Ambirge

This question brings back a memory of a time during my sophomore year at college when I had gotten a little behind in my classes. I was still passing all of them, but was struggling to keep up with the material and assignments. It seemed like everything I did was at the last minute and all of my assignments were being finished just in time (JIT). JIT is a good system if you are a manufacturer, but not if you are a student.

I specifically remember one Sunday when I  had to write a paper that was due the next day. I hadn’t even started the research, and I remember thinking there was no way I was going to get it done. At that time, I didn’t write as much as I do now, so I was really slow. It took me forever to write anything and because I was slow, I didn’t like writing. Sitting there staring at a page was intimidating and I hated it.

If I could have, I probably would have put off working on the paper for another day, but there was no way out of it. The paper was due the next day and the teacher wasn’t taking late assignments.

Shortly after lunch, I drove my car to the library. I drove slowly, dreading the next several hours and thinking of how I would be imprisoned in the library all afternoon. To make matters worse, it was a beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine. Warm spring days were a rarity in Pullman, so it was doubly depressing to be headed for the library. There was no way around it though, so into the library I went.

The paper came together gradually, but it wasn’t easy. Around midnight, I went to the computer lab to type the paper. I was nearly finished at 1:00am when my computer froze. My heart did too. Oh, no. I didn’t have it backed up on a disk either. I buried my face in my hands. All of that work—down the drain. A tangle of nausea grew inside my stomach. I was already exhausted and ready to go home and get some sleep. The deep sense of dread grew stronger as I hit the reset button on the machine.

Miraculously (and I mean miraculously), when the computer restarted, my paper reappeared too. It was just sitting on the screen as if nothing had happened. If you had been watching me, you probably would have seen a look of complete disbelief pass over my face before tears of joy filled my eyes. Talk about relief!

I quickly backed the file up, not wanting a repeat of the heart-stopping drama. Half an hour later, I finished the last few edits and printed it out. It wasn’t the best paper in the history of my time at Washington State, but in my mind, it was certainly one of the most memorable. Although the incident did not help me break away from my JIT system, I did come away with a new confidence that I could pull together something at the last minute if I had to, which was a pretty good lesson to learn.

[This week, with visitors coming into town for a few days, I’m going to surprise myself if I get three good articles written for the blog in addition to these #Trust30 posts. Check back to see how it goes.]