Pressure Cooker

“Pressure makes diamonds”  – George S. Patton Jr.

I believe some of the most pressured situations I’ve been in were interviews for jobs where you are given that deadly question, “Tell me about yourself”. I know it’s coming but I never seem to be prepared for it. Now, the first time I got this, I stuttered, blubbered, and scrambled to come up with a decent answer. I usually tell them about graduating from college and what I did, and then go into what qualities I possess that would be good for the job. The most difficult thing about interviews is setting yourself apart from everyone else who gets interviewed so you’ll be remembered later on. Putting yourself ahead of the noise. I usually fail at interviews, even if I’ve gotten better with eye contact and providing quicker answers. The pressure is on when you know within the first couple of minutes if they’ll be interested in hiring you or not, just by looking at their expressions.

Other situations of pressure from high school: Working against the clock to finish a tough test, under pressure to learn how to drive like most people at the age of 16, panicking against the deadline to ask a girl out to the dance before someone else does (or just going it alone like I usually did), the pressure to be the popular kid and do all those popular things (and then fall back down to earth once you graduate). All things that in the end did not matter that much, were trivial. I look back on high school now and think “man, if I only knew what I knew now, I could have aced all of those things, would have ruled the school, could have asked any girl out if I wanted to.”

When I’m under pressure, I tend to want to work harder than ever to get things done. There’s a force that pushes me to complete the goal. My adrenaline gets kicked up a notch, my actions sometimes don’t seem to be my own, I sometimes do things that aren’t exactly like me. I forget about failure and focus on the finish line, doing anything I can to get there.

Without pressure, I’m working at my own pace and many times procrastination creeps up in my work, such as times when I had an important essay to write for college but kept delaying it to watch YouTube videos or play games on the Internet. When I need to get that essay done in as little as two days, then all bets are off for playtime. I even have to resist getting up to eat a snack because I’ll soon lead myself into letting the time pass.

True, not being under pressure is where some of my best work comes about, such as when I’m not working against the clock to finish this blog post before the end of the day. Anything to do with writing and creativity takes time and patience – rushing it only produces half baked results. That hot under the collar feeling I get when time is getting short and I’m stuck on the 50th of 100 questions on the chemistry final (it never was my thing), forces me to dig deep and concentrate on everything I’ve learned about that subject, sometimes even putting down my best educated answer.

But the truth is, I hate pressure. It only serves to make me second guess myself and wonder if I could have done better if I only had more time. Worst of all, it makes me sweat, have severe anxiety, and puts me under stress, sometimes with me pulling at my hair or picking at a scar.

Haste makes waste. I need time for my ideas to form and come together. I feel more satisfaction at a piece of work that I took the time and effort to complete, instead of something that I made in a few minutes and might get not much recognition and respect. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Heat is On.”