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Confession: I Actually Prefer to Be Late

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Can I make a confession? 

I prefer to be late. There, I said it. I hope this is a safe enough place for such an egregious point of view. 

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The reason I prefer to be late is because I get severe anxiety when I’m too early due to my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I know the ideal is to be early, and I do still try to be, but being ahead of time stresses me out more due to the impending event or appointment leads to a lack of stimulation.

I’ve always struggled with being on time. I used to think I was irresponsible or “lazy,” until I realized at a late age I had ADHD. Then, so much made sense. 

When I’m running late or I’m just on time, it’s a rush. I’m so hyper-focused and zoned in on what I have to do. I don’t intentionally wait until the last minute, but time blindness, a known trait of ADHD, tends to work against me most days. This causes me to mistake how much time I actually have to do a task which dominos into me never having enough time to do what I have to do. Then next thing you know I’m racing the clock but this causes me to be perfectly stimulated. When I get there (and all is good) the dopamine drop that I get is otherworldly. 

My ADHD loves it when I’m late, and the dopamine thrill I get from it sometimes even feels addicting.

Meanwhile if I were to show up on time, I have less to focus on and do. My mind wanders and I’m under-stimulated. Worst case scenario? I don’t bring a book or my sketch pad to keep me busy once I’m there and then I’m just sitting by myself twiddling my thumbs. I start wondering if I wore the right thing or if I’m actually prepared. Sometimes I actually grow tired. It’s the energy equivalent of not knowing what to do with your hands in photos, so they just sit at your side awkwardly. When I’m late, I can just keep going and running which keeps the hyperactive part of my ADHD happy, whereas when I’m early I’m at rest in a way that makes me uncomfortable.

Sadly the world isn’t set up for people like me who can’t be on time even if you paid them (because yes, somehow I manage to still arrive late to meetings even though I work from home). I understand that it’s best to be early out of respect for other people, and that’s why I try to be, but if I were to be brutally honest then I’d have to admit that being exactly on time or 10 minutes late is so much more mentally comfortable for me comparative to being even 10 minutes early. 

I’m never intentionally late, and I still feel bad when I am, but if I had to choose between the two? 

Ten minutes late is my five early. 

Getty image by LightFieldStudios

Originally published: August 12, 2022
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