Running late

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.

  • Lindsay

    Emily, I felt like this, too, and always measured my life by my mom's timeline. Because she got married at 20 and had me at age 23, I always assumed that I would be the same. Obviously, I wasn't. It's hard to watch the time pass by when you assumed you'd hit different life points by then, but I think it does help to think about things one day at a time. I know I'm happier when I focus on what I accomplished that day instead of thinking about what I want in the future. I have too much of a tendency to compare myself to others when I should be comparing myself to how I was a year or even 10 days ago. Well-written post. I think everyone struggles with the Lord's timing at times, especially me.

  • Emily

    This is excellent advice, Lindsay. Thank you. You're a great example to me!

  • Breanna

    I love reading your blog, Emily. I was thinking about time today too — how fast it goes, whether I'm spending it well, whether I'm keeping pace with where I want or need to be. I agree with Lindsay — I like looking back at where I've been spiritually or emotionally in the past and I realize I wouldn't want to go back, that I really am progressing. It's hard to do sometimes, though. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Emily

      Thanks, Bre! You're so sweet.

  • Izzy

    People wondered why we weren't having children, so I have felt this, too. The upshot is that I seem really young with such young kids. You are right Emily, His plan is the perfect one for you. Way to embrace it. I Love You!

    • Emily

      Thanks, Liz! I love you, too!

  • Heather

    Just came over here after reading your comment on 71 toes. Love your writing, it feels very honest and likable. That timetable of God's is a tricky one, to be sure.

    • Emily

      Thanks, Heather! That's so sweet of you. I clicked over to your blog, “It's So Tasty Too!” What a clever name; I absolutely adore that “I Love Lucy” episode. (I assume that's where the title comes from.) Are there other places I can follow you, too?