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Mental Confines

As the sun was setting and the night was coming to an end, I sat down on my swivel chair, deep in thought. I stared blankly into my white board as I scratched my arm forcefully, frustrated by the fact I hadn’t yet started my school’s chemistry project that was due that night. I buried my head in my hands. All I needed to do was create a slideshow of information, but all I could think of was all the time I had wasted in class watching meaningless videos. I was stuck in the vicious cycle of doing my work and looking at my phone, thinking I could finish it in a few hours. Unknowingly, I thought in the back of my head that I would start soon, even as I swiped up looking at the next Instagram post.

After a while, I realized that I had spent enough time on my phone and tossed it onto my bed. I pulled out my computer from my bag, took the case off of it and rapidly hit the spacebar waiting for it to turn on. It was then that I saw the time. 11:04pm.

As I went into a state of frenzy trying to figure out what exactly needed to be done, my heart raced, threatening to burst from my ribcage. I could feel my palms sweating against my computer as I entered my passcode. My breathing was quick and shallow. My eyes were scrunched in concentration. I hadn’t even looked at my project rubric yet. I hadn’t done very well in chemistry so far, so a late submission would mean that I would be in trouble. Out of habit, I pulled my fingers into my chest, bending them until I heard the familiar crackle that normally helped calm me in times of fear and pandemonium.

“Oh my god. Oh my god,.” I mumbled in a quick succession.

I had spent the past week either on my phone or watching YouTube videos. Back then, knowing the deadline was still a while away, my brain had been on autopilot. I couldn’t couldn’t click away, and each time I attempted to focus I fell into a rabbithole, watching video after video after video.

“Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god,” I mumbled again, this time checking my phone for the time. 12 minutes had already passed.

I started bringing up the sources that Mr. Cullen had given us and began reading. My eyes darted back and forth, reading as fast as I could. As I read, I hoped I could absorb as much information as possible as this would probably be the only time I would be researching for this project. I then opened up my slideshow template as I scratched my arm in frustration again. I could hear my own heartbeat; I could even hear my hands shaking against the keyboard. I stood up, thinking it would help clear my mind, but again, all I could think of was the time I had wasted. I began to pace back and forth, stomping my feet as a way to vent my frustration. The very act of thinking was hurting my brain, and the very act of looking at my computer screen was hurting my eyes.

As I opened the assignment to look once more at the rubric I glanced at the due date.

“What?” I uttered to myself in pure confusion.

Due tomorrow - 11:59pm. I brought my hands into my face as I felt a sudden flare of joy and relief. After taking a second to process what had happened, I pressed control-T, typed “YouTube,” and pressed enter again.


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