I am a chronically late person.
Out of all of my many attributes and flaws, the one that stands out to everyone that has ever known me, is that I am always running late. For everything. I’m fairly certain that I will be late to my funeral. Being late for things is so synonymous with who I am, friends have taken to unanimously telling me events start a half hour earlier than they do.
Reading this article on Wait But Why (read it – it has the most amazing stick figure sketches) it beautifully summed up what it’s like being me, in all my lateness glory.
In the article Tim Urban, groups late people into two categories:
Group 1) Those who don’t feel bad or wrong about it. These people are assholes.
Group 2) Those who feel terrible and self-loathing about it. These people have problems.
I am not only in group 2 but my self-loathing stems to full blown anxiety.
I’ve always been late. I lived a 15 minute (fast paced) walk from my high school and Every. Single. Morning. I was late. Every lunchtime I would be on some kind of detention. Babysitting jobs I would have to make up excuses about my mum being too busy to drop me off on time because I was late. Everything anyone had to say about me was glowing – except for the fact that I was late to everything.
I’ve had boyfriends threaten to dump me, my mother cry from frustration, friends get fed up with me, lost jobs, SEEN THERAPISTS -and yet still, I’m always late. Admittedly it’s gotten better as I’ve become an adult – as a teenager me being late could sometimes end up being a couple of hours. Now, I’m only ever 20 minutes at the most.
But still. Why?!
20 minutes can be an eternity to some people. And they are rightly so annoyed I have eaten up their time.
So what’s a girl to do?
Self analyse, of course!
These are the reasons I think I’m late:
– I’m a creative. I know I know, I see you rolling your eyes. But seriously, I don’t thrive in ridged structure. Whenever I do a standard 9-5 with everything structured, even break times, I go a bit insane. I get depressed. I get lethargic. I stop producing quality work. If I’m not given freedom and a bit of space to manage myself – I just sort of implode. It’s ok for me that you need the project done by Tuesday, but please let me do it at my own pace – that might be coming in at noon and working till ten. Some people work better at night, so please let us do our damn thing.
– I have some kind of weird anxiety about being somewhere too early (Ironic?!).
Boredom. Having nothing to do. These are the things I have nightmares about. (like I literally had one last night). The idea of having too much free time kills me because it makes me feel unproductive. It makes me feel like I’m being worthless to myself. As much as I despise running around like my hair is on fire in a swirling mass of self- loathing while I shakily race across the city to keep my appointment – having too much times creates an inner despair that feeds an inner dialogue telling me I have 5 more minutes.
– Sleep issues. Partners and friends have joked that I’m not a morning person and that is an understatement. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed before 2 am. As I write this it’s 3:32am on a casual Thursday. If I’m left to my own devices, I get completely turned around and I start staying up all night like some kind of vampiric, night creature that hisses at the sun. True story: my mother’s gynecologist thought there was a problem when she was pregnant with me because I only came awake at night. Getting up to be at 7am meetings like the rest of the working class is –set-my-face-on-fire-hell.
– Not a lot of people know or would guess that I have social anxiety and find it draining being around lots of people for long periods of time. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you and I don’t mean it when I’m upbeat, but it takes effort for me. No matter how awesome the social interaction is going to be, there is always a slight part of me that would rather just stay in my track pants, working on my own stuff and just not having to conform to any social norms (like not wearing said track pants in public).
I want to please people I like – I like to say yes to things. Yes I’ll come and meet you even though it will be a half hour drive for me and yes I’m happy to take on extra work, even though I’m technically at capacity.
The more anxious/stressed I get, the worse I am at managing time. As soon as I’m upset/stressed out or generally anxious, being able to stick to a rigid timetable goes right out the window. I barely know what day it is, I just know I have to get this thing I’m working on done.
Things you, an on-time person needs to remember when dealing with us, laties:
– We understand that your time is important, and are not late because we don’t care. It’s the opposite. Late people like me, care a whole lot. I start hating myself the minute I realise I’m running late, and can even be surprised I’ve managed to do it yet again. But it’s a personal issue. We’re not doing it to ruin your day, or show you that we have no regard for you – as much as it’s hair-pulling-out annoying – It’s a personality fault.
-This might be a personal one, but please, PLEASE don’t treat us like a pet and clap or worse – give a treat or something as a reward for being on time. That shit is embarrassing. It doesn’t make me on time more often, has the opposite effect. Having a big deal made about you for something that normal, functioning adults manage everyday is humiliating. If I manage to get there in a timely manner feel free to comment, sure, but dear God, just leave it at that.
-It doesn’t mean the work we produce for you is any less quality. This is a big one for me. I pride myself at always going above and beyond with clients. I not only produce everything they ask but I make sure everything surrounding the project they have called me in on is going smoothly for them too. These are things that make me great to work with. Because I’m 10, 20, (Oh God, I hope not but sometimes maybe) 30 minutes late to meeting you at your office; has nothing to do with the quality of work I produce for you. It’s unfair that I’ll get penalized for being late but people who produce poor quality work or don’t reply to email correctly are not. These things are waaaaay worse because it has a lasting effect on whatever quality of work you’re trying to produce.
In conclusion, we get it, being late all the time sucks major balls, but it doesn’t make us incompetent or bad people. So please cut us some slack- we’re trying!