In third grade at midnight my Mother and I wrote a book report and assembled a puppet. I sewed the eyes on and pinned on a yellow silk shirt. I got a C for sloppy construction.
For the tenth grade science fair, I built a tower that would withstand a certain amount of weight. It sagged and swayed but held up under pressure, beyond all expectation. I was just relieved that the glue had dried.
At some point, the shoddy construction stopped. But so did the late nights of grinding through.
The expectation was that editors at my college newspaper would stay all night in the office, editing prior to deadline. But in two and a half years, I never once stayed. I was in bed by eleven.
Social anxiety was part of it. To show them all that I struggled might have embarrassed me. I allowed myself to be fallible only at the distance set by a computer monitor.
Now, in law school, I ask myself if I should stay up all night. I realize that somehow I lost the habit of driving work through to completion in one sitting, and I ask where it went. Lost to anxiety, lost to a desire for quality control, it lingers as an option.
I could expend myself. I could challenge the limits of waking hours, push through exhaustion to achieve an empty to-do list. Maybe I will build the stamina to face the danger of shoddy construction.