I hate being late.
I’d rather twiddle my thumbs for 30 minutes before a meeting than walk in after everyone is seated.
I don’t mind if other people are late. Feel free to mosey in whenever you please. But if I’m five minutes behind schedule, I’d rather sit in the hall, thank you.
There are a few semi-sane reasons I dislike being tardy: My family is generally on time — but never early. I remember running through the airport as child, trying to keep my carry-on from toppling and attempting to catch up with my dad, who was determined to make the flight but equally determined not to waste even a second sitting at the gate.
Our family of five could often be seen scurrying past the Cinnabon in the Salt Lake International Airport during the summer.
I now recall those jogs fondly, but the anxiety they induced at the time (Are we going to make it?!) is perhaps part of the reason I dislike being late. I’m also not keen on drawing unwanted attention. I blush easily.
All of that being said, I realize that my extreme fear of clocks is kind of crazy. Yes, it’s important to be respectful and to demonstrate that by being timely, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t have a few minutes to twiddle my thumbs.
Reflecting on the value I place on minutes and seconds from this more sensible standpoint got me thinking about my fear of being late for other events.
At the mature age of 8, I decided I needed to get married when I was 19. When 19 came and went in a flurry of essays and frozen dinners, I became progressively worried with each passing year about being late for that event. (I now recognize that a marriage requires the collision of two individuals’ schedules. It was a lightbulb moment.)
I mapped out timetables for other significant life events, too. Having my first child by 23 was somewhere on there. Buying a starter home wasn’t far behind.
But here I stand (or sit, rather) husbandless, childless and houseless.
Somehow my fear of being late to everyday events translated into a fear of being late to earth-shattering events. The anxiety I’ve felt about not being married or having children is, I believe, caused by my belief that I’m running late for life.
But, really, I need to let that mindset go. My fear reminds me of the rabbit from “Alice in Wonderland.”(What is it with me and that movie lately?) The rabbit spends most of the movie frantically declaring, “I’m late. I’m late for a very important date.” At some point, the March Hare takes a mallet to the rabbit’s watch — likely hoping he’ll chilax. (Is that term still cool? Let’s pretend it is, ok.)
I need someone to take a mallet to my pocket watch. There’s no need for me to be embarrassed, and I don’t need to be anxious. My life may not be going according to my childhood plan, but I’m not late.
I’m not walking into the meeting after it’s started; I’m simply going to a different meeting. My life is running on a carefully crafted timetable — and yours is, too.