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For Want of Gumption

Sometimes I have been described by associates in the past as having a “bias for action” — a tendency to choose action over inaction. I find this description to be true of many parts of my life, at least when I am thinking rationally. My “whats the worst that could happen” sort of mentality combined with a life experience of nothing that bad ever happening may be responsbile. Or maybe I just like to live life to its fullest, and inaction is not well correlated with fullness. At any rate, this so-called bias for action has tended to serve me well over the years — it is largely responsbile for the outrageously successful Road Trip of 2003, for a slew of road-less-traveled honors courses both in high school and in college that have all paid dividends, for a robotics club that went to the national competition its first year, and for a few speeding tickets as well. Certainly, looking back at my life, just as in looking back at that list, the good has far outweighed the bad.

Unfortunately, this action bias often fails me in two areas. The first is associated primarily with schoolwork — I find myself procrastinating its completion far too often. The bigger the assignment, the more I put it off, only making the problem worse, leading to more procrastination. Of course, usually things eventually reach a tipping point where the rapidly increasing completion panic energy overcomes the negative potential well of procrastination, and I get to work. Unfortunately, this usually means late nights, all-nighters, and substandard product. Of course, as we have seen, my substandard is sometimes somewhat better than average. This, of course, only served to reinforce the acceptability of the process, which has repeated itself many times for many papers and assignments throughout the history of Ryan.

But all of this is just a precursor. This post is not about schoolwork procrastination. This is about my other action-bias failue: namely, anything involving women.

As with most of my posts, there is a recent occurence to illustrate the point particularly well. It all began in my Math 324 class (see previous post to see the Chemistry Library building where I go for this class…). The course title is “Advanced Multivariable Calculus.” Only a few majors recognize it, and fewer yet require it. So basically, you’re either a math major/minor or pretty smart if you’re taking the class. To say it like a crass Yoda, dumb people here, there are not. The point here is that any girl in this class that happens to catch my eye is not only good looking, but she is intelligent as well. Hot and smart. Is there anything better than that? I didn’t think so.

Which brings me to Marissa. After I started having attendance issues in my other “early” (11:30 am) class Math class, I stopped sitting in the front, because I was often coming in late. This put me usually on the second-to-last row, right behind her. Always carrying her decorative coffee cup and taking notes in an artist’s sketchpad, we occasionally exchanged niceties, but never really talked. We were both always late, and she must have had a class right afterwards, as she never stuck around. Until today, that is. And today, we actually talked. Briefly, it is true, but it was good. At the time, I should have been considering, more or less, the following facts:

  • She is hot
  • She is smart
  • Today is the last day I will see her before the final
  • I could really use some motivation in studying for the final
  • I could really use a date to the company Christmas party

Unfortunately, I was apparently only considering the following facts:

So, as the class and conversation ended, this is what came out: “Well, good luck on the final. See you on Wednesday.” And then it was over.

I didn’t even recover enough from the blank mind to kick myself for a good ten minutes.

So now, I either rely on some sort of serendipity, find some way to talk to her before/during/after the final, or give up all hope. And considering past experience, I’m leaning towards the latter.

One Response to “For Want of Gumption”

  1. Bernie Zimmermann Says:

    “Regret is an odd emotion because it comes only upon reflection. Regret lacks immediacy, and so its power seldom influences events when it could do some good.”

    William O’Rourke

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