The stand up comic from 1950s, Lenny Bruce, wrote in his excellent autobiography titled “How to talk dirty and influence people”, that he finds medical students to have a an “attitude of stick-to-it-iveness” that is missing from his daily life. Lenny Bruce is impertinent to the rest of this piece but the stick-to-it-iveness is important.
It is another one of those phrases that I came across randomly and has now become an essential part of my “self-talk” because it aptly describes a trait that we all could use in the year 2020.
We all get up each day with a plan to achieve this, that, and a whole lot of other stuff. But by the end we have moved the flowerpot back from its location on Tuesday to the location on Monday, done one squat and declared ourself super fit, taken one deep breath and called ourself yoga guru or cooked one meal and called ourself <insert name of your famous celebrity chef>. If you’re a doctoral student, these activities also include all or some of these: experiments, coding, data analysis or academic writing. While time is not the problem these days, time management certainly has been. I can’t comment on people with kids or spouses in the house or any sort of financial crisis…but if your Venn diagram of life experiences includes living alone with a low motivation to work/ eat/ keep healthy, and frequent anxiety issues then we have some overlap, and maybe we can figure out how to exist better.
Historically my brain and I don’t communicate very well. We dislike each other and say mean things about each other constantly. The one that I control is the conscious and the one that is mean is the subconscious. It is like a black box recording every conversation ever had by my conscious brain and unlike a black box also keep a visual record of every activity. This way, when the conscious brain is just about to drift off, the subconscious revs up its Harley and drives right into the empty roads of my thoughts with a giant microphone screaming…Can you sleep after what you’ve done?
This is where I need an attitude of stick-to-it-iveness. I need to shout out loud (sometimes literally scream into the pillow) to myself that yes I deserve a good sleep. At times I deserve that sleep precisely because of the faux pas accomplished in the day. It’s tiring to be confident after making a fool of myself. It’s irrational and unbelievably taxing. The energy could be going into making corrections to my paper, instead I’m sitting here thinking what’s the best route to take so as to avoid the last person I think I did something embarrassing in front of. I’m no medical student but I could use some solid sticking to it. The “it” is always a list of tasks I put in my journal/ calendar/ desktop post-it, and it more often than only half to three quarters gets completed.