Tying up loose ends

Learning the importance of finishing what I start


Kripa Mayureshwar

An illustration of a string being tied into a knot

Kripa Mayureshwar

A huge 24 inch by 18 inch canvas leans against the wall in front of my bed. 

While watching “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” more than a year and a half ago over summer break, I saw a beautiful landscape appear on the screen for a split second — a city made almost entirely of ice, filled with vibrant blues and an incredible amount of detail. I was entranced by the picture, and as always when I see pretty things, I knew I had to paint it.

So I rounded up all the necessary supplies for the painting that I could find in the house — as a frequent painter, I had no trouble finding paint or brushes. But as I stared at the pile of 8 inch by 10 inch canvases stacked on my desk, I knew that I was missing something. Something big. Literally.

I made my mom drive me to Michaels’ that same day to buy the biggest canvas I could find. It was a rather impulsive (and somewhat expensive) decision, but I was confident that I’d be able to finish this painting and it’d be beautiful

That evening, I got ready to start painting. The canvas was too big for my desk, so I used the dining table. I set up my workspace meticulously, covering the table in a tarp so paint wouldn’t get on it. I lit two floral scented candles to set the mood. I set up my computer to play the third season of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and made sure that autoplay was on so I wouldn’t have to move to play the next episode. Once I finally started painting, I didn’t stop for several hours, only taking a break around 2 a.m. because my hands had started to cramp. 

I did the exact same thing the following day, not sleeping until 5 a.m.

The day after that, my parents had guests over for dinner and I moved my painting off the dining table and stood it up against the wall in front of my bed. 

That was more than a year and a half ago. It has remained in the same place since, unfinished and untouched.

Including that one, I have eight unfinished paintings strewn across my room, multiple half-embroidered cloths that I haven’t touched in two years, unfinished crocheted scarves and an insurmountable amount of writing pieces that haven’t even made it past the drawing board.

I have a list on my Notes app with all the projects that I want to finish. Out of the 60 ideas on that list, I’ve started more than half of them and I’ve only finished three.

I’ve even been writing this story for months — I thought of the idea last summer and was hit with a sudden burst of motivation which led to me writing a full-fledged outline for it in less than 10 minutes. But admittedly, when writing a story about struggling to finish what I start, maybe I should’ve expected for it to remain unfinished for a while.

I have a lot of interests and a small attention span — the perfect combination to foster a cycle of getting hooked on things and losing interest in them just as quickly. I know that I don’t have the time or drive to finish the majority of the things I take on, but that has never stopped me from starting something new.

But that also results in me almost never finishing anything. Over winter break, every morning I told myself I would use the extra time I had to finish all the projects I had abandoned. And I did sporadically paint and write, but I don’t have anything to show for it because I didn’t finish anything. All I did was start new things. 

I have a lot of hobbies, and there are too many ways I want to spend my time. But this constant habit of not finishing anything that I take on has left me so unmotivated — it’s difficult to actually want to do anything. It’s not hard to deduce that this pattern of feverishly working on something for a short period of time before burning out and moving on is the culprit behind my lack of motivation, but it’s so much easier said than done to stop.

New Year’s resolutions have admittedly never yielded much success for me, but instead of listing a bunch of new things that I want to finish this year, I’ve decided that my only resolution is to finish everything that I’ve already started. Each week, I’m going to finish some project that I’ve abandoned for some reason or another.

And OK, it has been more than a week, but at least I’m making progress — after all, I’ve finally finished writing this. And I have to say, it feels good. Good enough that I finally feel like I can look at that giant painting in my room and want to work on it instead of just feeling guilty about not finishing it. And hey — what better time to start than the present?