Real confessions of a chronically late girl living in an on time world

Today I want to say "I'm sorry".

You see, there's this thing that I think needs to be talked about. My brain lives in a bit of an alternate reality time zone. It always has and no matter how much I've tried, I just can't help it. I can't seem to change it. 

Maybe I was raised to be this way. Maybe I was born like this. Maybe it's the way my brain is literally wired. I don't know... but one thing I know for sure is that I'm late ALL the time. 

 always being late

And despite my best efforts, it's only gotten worse with kids. 

I'm sure that all of you punctual people out there may be chuckling or rolling your eyes. Maybe you think this is a joke. Or you're thinking "sheesh, just be on time already." You may have all the best suggestions and tips about how to be on time. You may be wondering how it's even hard. Maybe it's a brush it off and shrug your shoulders kind of thing. 

I envy that about you. Man, oh man... if I could just snap my fingers, learn a simple routine, or add a new time management trick into my day (I've tried them ALL) that would fix this problem, I'd be so happy. In all seriousness, it really would feel like the equivalent of a lifetime chronic illness being lifted off my shoulders. 

It sounds extreme, I know. 
But it's not extreme to me. 

You may not get it because this isn't your battle... but I realized recently that most of you out there probably just don't understand. Your brain functions totally differently and that's good. That's what makes the world go round. Different. 

Yes, I give myself plenty of extra time. Lots of it. I look at the clock and will talk myself through what needs to be done. And then I'll get to work doing those things. But something strange happens. It's like time goes into warp speed in real life while the time in my head stands still. I don't know how else to explain it. 

 what it feels like to always be late

It's like my brain is in a constant state of 'idea flow' with big thoughts, dreams, and ideas. You see, I'm a visionary. I see the big picture and 500 ways to make things happen. That's easy. So don't get me wrong... my brain is special. I appreciate that about myself... but with that also comes challenges. 

Getting ready to leave for daycare. 
Going to work. 
Or church. 
Or just to meet someone. 

Maybe you think I just intentionally wasted too much time. Nope. For some of us, we legitimately are trying our best to get there on time but that darn warp speed happens. Maybe it's an unintentional day dream. Maybe it's the thoughts in my head taking over. But the whole world enters a different space time continuum and I'm left there standing, wondering what in the world just happened to 30 whole minutes. True story.

I know it's easy to get mad at us for this. I know your time is really valuable and I do SO MUCH respect that. I try so hard to respect that. I REALLY appreciate your friendship.

I want to say I'm sorry. 

But the truth is that we live in two different worlds. 

I'm not asking that you excuse this behavior. I'm not looking for a 'get out of jail free' card. I'm not saying I won't work on it. But I am asking that you open your mind to what our world is like before deciding that we're being disrespectful. Before pushing us from your life. Before forever labeling us as “the disrespectful late person”. Because as silly as it sounds... this stuff can make or break relationships. Because for some of you, almost nothing else could be worse than constantly being late. I know, I've heard it before. 

I've had people tell me that being late is a sin. Crazy, I know… but I know that may be how important punctuality is to some of you.

But I would ask you to stop for a second to think about what we're go through on a DAILY - even hourly - basis before rolling your eyes or giving us the 'just be on time' speech. Because for some of us with serious time warp problems, those words hurt us more than you know.

 how it feels to be chronically late

Can I say some things that are really hard to share? 

Sometimes I don't go places because I have so much overwhelming anxiety about being late. Im so worried of what people think or feel (and giving me a speech about it will make it WAY harder for me when meeting with you in the future, fyi.)

Sometimes I wish I could move to Mexico or some other culture that puts less emphasis on punctuality like Americans do. Seriously, I've considered it. 

Sometimes I cry on my way when I'm running late.

Sometimes I feel so helpless over this 'problem'. 

I've gone to counseling and seen a therapist for this.

I've had friends leave me over this.

You want to know what a day in the life of a struggling perpetually late person looks like? 

Alarm clocks going off every 5 minutes while getting ready to help me stay in current time. Google calendar events with notification reminders every 30 minutes for 3 hours leading up to when I have to leave. Clocks in every single room all set to different times (always fast). Packing the night before. Walking out the door half ready even though half of the things on my list aren't done yet. 

Living life like this is HARD. But I do it because I definitely want to respect you. I want to be different. It may be one of most mentally taxing things I do all day long. When I am on time, it's like I've just run a marathon. Except without the praise. 

I've heard it said that asking someone with this problem to 'just be on time' is a lot like asking a depressed person to 'just stop being depressed'. You can't just flip a switch like that. We hear that about depression, but do we ever hear anyone talk about this??

 how it feels to be chronically late

But I am working on it. I'm getting better. 

This post isn't meant to make anyone mad or to excuse a problem that our society makes so important. (And in all honesty, as much as it annoys me, we do live in America and keeping a tight schedule is important to so many here. So I'll continue working to conform.)

But instead, I hope that this can help open your eyes a bit. 

Maybe you can start praising people for being on time (I mean, only if you REALLY know the person and know they struggle with this… after all, how annoyed would you be if you just ran a marathon and your best friend just shrugged as you crossed the finish line?).

Maybe you can ask how someone is doing instead of picking them apart for being late. Maybe you can remember that some late people have already beaten themselves up one side and down the other and you can try to help them through this, not pound them down further. Not by throwing more tips or time management strategies at them... but by giving them grace. By seeing their hurt and embarrassment. And by being their friend anyways. By loving EVERY part of them well anyways - even the free and wild part of them that makes them perpetually late. And by telling them you're glad they are there (even though they were late)... because for some of them, it was a serious battle to not just stay home. 

So, today I say 'I'm sorry'. I do value and respect your time. And I'm working on it. 

And if you’re a struggling late girl like me, check out this article by TIME.

It’s not another post of time management tips or ‘how to’s’… but it’s a little more insight into the REAL issues going on in the brain of a chronically late person, and how you can begin beating it. And if this is you, leave a comment below! I know I’m not the only one.

 sandra houseman squarespace web designer
 
 

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