The Mistakes We Knew We Were Making


If there is one person who will actually be late to their own funeral, it’s me. My entire life I have been consistently tardy to every endeavor that I’ve undertaken: elementary school, high school, college classes, jobs, volunteering, practices, movies, parties. All late, late, late. This record of late spans almost every type of activity and start time – I’m worse when it’s in the morning, but no matter when the event is I’ll probably be late to it.

I once heard a theory about the consistently late – they are so insecure about their competence that they must get one more thing done before they leave as a way of feeling more legitimate. When I first heard this I thought “no way, that’s not me,”. Then I realized that this was very applicable to my life. It makes me feel much more important to delay getting ready for things. And so I continue what I’m doing until the last minute. Normally the problem is that I underestimate how long it takes to get everything I need for the activity and this causes me to end up leaving super late.

I should add that I am not the type of person who accepts they will always be late and isn’t mad when they arrive with emphasis on the ‘ish’. When I am late, the entire ride there consists of being mad at myself – the entire ride is dwelling on what those waiting for me must be thinking. I hate that feeling, I really do. And yet, I am consistently late with few signs that it’s going to get any better.

Last week I worked at a local children’s day camp. It was an awesome experience – the kids were full of energy but cooperative, the activities were fun for everybody, I got to do the work with a friend of mine, and, on top of it all, I got paid to be there. It was fantastic: I literally got paid to have fun.

You would think, then, that I would show up on time because it was so enjoyable? Nope. Not a chance. The first day I was a full two hours late. Everyday after that I was at least ten minutes late. And so the cycle continues.

Prioritizing is probably the simple solution I would get from an elder or other person with wisdom. I think, however, it goes a lot deeper than that. Specifically I believe it comes from a deep-seated love of feeling impossibly busy. I love being so busy that I almost go insane. It makes me feel oh so important. I love running the mindsprint. It’s a strange feeling to enjoy, but that’s how I am.

So, if my theory is correct, to become more punctual I must realize that the only feeling I love more than being impossibly busy is the feeling that I really accomplished a goal. Therefore, I must ‘slow my roll’ a bit and try to be more focused on the present. As they always say: “Life is a marathon, not a sprint,”. I think I have to ditch some of the idealism and be more realistic; I have to try jogging not sprinting through life.

One of the mornings at the day camp they took a group picture. It’s a nice picture, everyone looks happy in their matching Tye-die t-shirts. Only I’m not in it, because I was late that day. I think that I am going to keep that picture for a while, because I feel like it represents everything I miss when I’m late. I’m going to make that picture a symbol of my past, and hopefully, an impetus to get out of bed in the morning. I want to hold that photo in a year and wonder why I’m not in it. Maybe then I’ll remember why and say “wow, remember when I was late to everything? I’m sure glad I’m not like that anymore.”

Or maybe I’m just being idealistic.

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