I'm writing this from the departure lounge of Sheffield's finest Coach interchange, with some time to spare. I arrived here a whole 1 hour 15 minutes before my coach is due. Surprise!
My 'previous' nature is something I inherited from my Grandad and has never changed. As a child I was always up early (so much living to see and do!) and even as a teenager I didn't sleep in, miss trains or do any of the other 'tardy' things associated with adolescence. As a student my essays were always finished a week before the deadline and I didn't know the meaning of fashionably late. As an adult my early-bird persona has become more defined, so that now I'm known in my family for always doing things weeks ahead of time, my friends know not to be late meeting me, I am ridiculously organised (a good thing) and I never stop planning ahead (not a good thing).
What's interesting though, Is I think I am a minority. Most of my friends are much more likely to be half an hour late than half an hour early, I'm always the first one to finish getting ready/get to the bar/arrive at the restaurant, and I seem to be one of a very few who loves mornings and hates night times.
Why am I different?! I don't for one second presume being so previous is always a good thing, so why am I this way?
My extra hour today gave me time to think and I realised just why I'm so early all the time (apart from the genetic reasons) and why I hate hate lateness. Really really hate it.
1. To a avoid panic
I'm not known for never stress-ing and I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist about plans. I want to cram a lot into my life and as a result I have lists and dates flying around my head ALL the time. Like all of it. Busyness can cause anxiety and anxiety can ruin everything, so generally i find by planning ahead and being early I can eliminate the extra stress Of 'Am I going to make it on time' when dashing for a train or even just going to work. Other people usually care a lot less than me when I am late, but I still hate the feeling of disarray and failure that it leaves me with.
On top of that being late can cause things to cost more and just become generally more stressful, in my experience. And it's just not worth it for an extra hour in bed. In a job where I could roll in at 9.15 and no- one would care, I'm rarely at my desk after 8.30. I'm sat here in freezing coach station on my day off. And I will no doubt be the first at my funeral (you'd hope). This will never change, because the stress of being late is unnecessary and I feel that in being chronically early, I get more out of life.
2. Time is so precious
One thing we all have in common is that sense that our time is really really precious. We all want to enjoy our time living and the first thing we learn is it has an expiry date. I want to do everything and more, and I know that I can't. So I plan my time to within an inch of its life, to get the most put of every day. If I get up an hour earlier I can run before starting my weekend of fun, if I get to work early I can leave early and have more fun in the evening, if I get to the party when it starts, I 'll have MORE of the party. It's about chasing the fun and making the most of yourself all at the same time, and for me that means an early start.
3. lateness is mean
More than that, if you're late you are effectively causing a domino effect of lateness that impacts on everybody's time - and that just isn't cool. If I'm meeting you for lunch, I probably got up early to bake you a cake and wash my hair, so if you're late that's 15 minutes, half an hour, an hour more of MY time that I won't get back that I could have spent running, calling my Mum or sleeping. Lateness is selfish, unless it can't be helped or happens rarely. I don't meAn that extra 5 minutes, I mean the time you spend doing what YOU want knowing you're late, but not caring that someone else is wasting their own precious time waiting for you.
On the few occasions I have been late I have always felt guilty and sincerely apologised, because I know how much I hate losing time myself and I know I may really be putting someone out. They could have cancelled an appointment or ignored an important call.
I tolerate lateness differently now I'm older, I know life gets in the way and I don't get angry with the other person like I used to, but I do refuse to put my own life on hold for them. If my mate is late I make the most of the time so that it isn't just spent waiting - I go to the bar without them and meet them there, I go shopping, I make phone calls, I browse, I blog on my phone, I drink tea. Life is too short to stand outside Starbucks for 30 mins in the rain.
The irony is, in being early I end up with an hour to kill at a freezing bus station instead of at home with the kettle and Friends on repeat. Hmmmmm.
Are you an earlybird or a late date?