Character – by Justyna

1 Apr

Self-discipline was never really part of my character make-up when I was growing up. I think my father was responsible for inventing the term “in a minute” every time he was asked to do something, pick something up, fix something, get something, take something down from a high shelf. I was never discouraged for opening a packet of lollies or chips whilst still standing in the check-out queue of the supermarket. When we would come home after a holiday of camping, the unpacking process often took many days. When leaving for a camping trip we would say that we would get up at 6 am to be on the road by eight, but in reality we would just be finishing our breakfast at ten. My dad was perpetually late for everything, it seems, in his life (and still is). From birthday parties, to picking me up at school, to client meetings to pretty much everything that involved someone on the other side waiting, including weddings. As a result, punctuality (a branch of self-discipline in my book), was a flexible concept in my mind. The only thing I was yelled at for being too laxed about, was my studying habits and the cleanliness of my room. My mum, who and is the most organised out of us three, lived in perpetual hell, having to nag my father and I to do stuff that should have been done automatically. As a smoker and an incessant deli-cheese nibbler, she still lacked in the ultimate self-discipline department.

But over time I have broken away from my family’s lack of willpower. When I was in third year uni, for example, I joined the university rowing club. It involved me getting up at 3am to catch the 3:45am Druitt train that got be to Auburn by around 4:20am where I would meet my friend in the pub that her parents owned (which incidentally opened at 5am!) and we would then drive together to be at the rowing shed and on Lane Cove river by 5am. I was insane, I was young, the sun over the harbour amazing, the rowing shithouse, and the rest of the day spent sleeping on the grassy knoll at uni and missing all my lectures and tutes. I did this twice a week for about half a year.

I have also learned to unpack from wherever we come from, thanks to Michal, upon arrival. I am now an artist at packing and unpacking in about three nano-seconds. Today this involves two additional humans and I still do not falter. Also I have taken on the role of Domestic Dictator favouring discipline when it comes to certain aspects of raising our kids, whilst Michal tells me to take a chill-pill. Maybe I have a subconscious fear that they’ll turn out to be slack-arses like their mother.

But some things you just cannot erase from your genetic make-up. I still hand stuff in at the last possible second (either at work or uni related), I still put up late blog posts because I cannot discipline myself to be more organised, never send birthday persents on time and I still open chips maybe not at the check-out, but definitely on the footpath just outside the shop even if it involves rummaging around the other grocery products in my bag to fish them out.

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4 Responses to “Character – by Justyna”

  1. Tabitha April 3, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    Beth and I were just chatting about self-discipline the other day, and the lack of it being the source of much self-flagellation. Sigh.

    Did you finish your essay, then?

  2. Karen April 4, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    How did you get through a law degree with that attendance style? You must be miraculously clever.

  3. Beth April 4, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    Loved this Justyna. It is funny and so, so true.

    The fear of turning into your parents often ends up in you turning into them anyway. For years I resisted having any sight of boxes in my home, having been brought up in a house where many items of furniture were made of boxes with what my mother called a “tasteful cloth” thrown a-top. SHUDDER! Then I had a kid and some genetic time-bomb went off inside me – before I knew it Leo’s bookshelves were fashioned out of cardboard boxes! (Rectified recently with a trip to Ikea, but irrefutable proof that it happens to us all).

    Love your work. Whether it’s tardy or not.

    • Karen April 4, 2012 at 4:31 am #

      Tasteful cloth – gold!

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