Being Tired Is Never an Excuse

It’s 2am Eastern Standard Time and I’m awake working.

I’m not working on anything pertaining to my actual 9 to 5 job that I get paid for, but instead I’m working on a video project which I hope to use in a presentation at an equity forum where I’ve been invited to present on April 21, 2015 (for those of you who aren’t astute in math, that’s happening in about 30 hours). It should be noted that I formally received this invitation to present at this equity forum at the very end of March.  Basically, that left me with about three weeks to put together a presentation, which is a reasonable amount of time, even for someone like me who has a full-time job. Not to mention, if there’s one thing I learned at the University of Toronto, it was how to put together a good and succinct and engaging powerpoint presentation in a day or two–so, given that I had three weeks to put this presentation together, I could have put together a powerpoint presentation and I could have done it easily.

But I don’t like easy. Never have. Never will.

So, instead of taking the easy (and boring) way out, I decided to do something different. I decided to put together a video telling the stories of a few young people (whom I may or may not know) and their experiences with inequity. The premise was to capture the voices of people who have actually experienced inequitable circumstances in their lives, to display the difficulties these circumstances have created, so as to motivate viewers to become more invested towards promoting equity in their own lives and communities. “Genius!” I thought. Except there was one problem–well, a few problems actually–but the biggest problem was…I only had three weeks to put this video together. Other compounding issues: I’d never made a video before, I didn’t own any audio/video recording equipment, I didn’t know how to use video editing software, I was not going to be funded by anybody, and oh yeah, I only had THREE WEEKS to figure this all out. At the very least this was ambitious. At most, completing this video was not at all realistic.

But, I’ve never been tethered to realism, so I decided to try anyway.

It’s now April 19th (well, technically April 20th at the time of writing), and the video is nearly complete. In three weeks I’ve been able to: organize and arrange interviews with three people in three different cities; create questions for interview; enlist one of my creative artsy friends as a videographer; interview the first person for the project; arrange for an interview with a second person–in Ottawa; drive four hours to Ottawa with my videographer to conduct the interview with the second person; return home to Toronto and go to my actual job; ask a mentor/supervisor/PhD for an interview with the premise of providing an expert voice to add credibility to the stories of the young people; have the aforementioned supervisor email several of her contacts to help me get an interview with an expert professional with less than 24 hours notice; write close to 20 emails in the span of five hours to several different people to try to arrange this expert interview on very short notice; get rejected by most of the experts; find one expert who agreed to be interviewed, but needed approval from his bosses; write up blurb for expert’s bosses to get approval; get approval; arrange and conduct interview with expert, acquiring a full audio/video and editing team serendipitously courtesy of my videographer; drive to Waterloo with serendipitously acquired film crew this past Thursday evening to conduct the interview of the third young person; drive home from Waterloo that same evening; spend Friday evening/night storyboarding the video; email storyboard to serendipitously acquired film crew; bring film crew to my house Saturday night to begin editing; continue editing tonight; and hopefully complete editing tomorrow to present in roughly 30 hours. Holy sh*t that’s a long list of things I was able to do in three weeks (two weeks really, if you’re following the timeline). And I did all that while maintaining my 9 to 5 job, and doing five public speaking events. So, the question is, how was I able to do all of this?

I don’t sleep.

Well, I obviously do sleep, but only as much as I humanly need to. Which is not much. Which is to say that I’m tired. All the time. And I’ve been very tired for most of the past three weeks. And I’ve had to drink coffee (which I never do) quite a few times. And on a couple occasions I’ve had to stimulate my wakefulness with my energy boosting formula of Twix and a Monster energy drink.

And I’ve still been tired.

But that’s okay. I don’t complain. Because I’ve been tired for the large majority of the past 10 years of my life. It’s how I’ve been able to go from stealing food between classes to graduating from university, from welfare to a car and a three bedroom house in the suburbs–in five years.  I’ve worked very VERY hard for most of the past 10 years. I’ve worked on my social skills. I’ve networked. I’ve self-developed. I’ve read books and articles and watched TED talks on being an efficient, happy person with the habits required for success. And I’ve lost a lot of damn sleep. And that’s okay. Because sometimes that’s just what is required. Passion, drive, ambition, and chasing your dreams often means lost sleep. And that’s okay. Because when it comes to chasing your dreams, one thing I can say confidently is that if you are going to achieve your dreams then you’re going to lose sleep. And that’s why…

Being tired is never an excuse.

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