On Being Chronically Late

I am feeling distracted today, but I’m also feeling destroyed.

I’ve been unable to get out of bed. The one thing that does tend to get me out of bed is to go to work, even though I do sometimes show up late, even though it’s not every day, I get up and go to work, and I put everything into it, even if it’s some shitty task, I take it with sincerity. I’ve made many friends, and well, I like my job. I really do. It has helped a lot to remind me that I am capable but also reminded me not to overestimate my own competency. I’ve met so many people that have been extremely kind to me, and I feel many of them genuinely care about me and I genuinely care about them. I have learned new skills and been open to hearing new stories and solving problems and trying new things and making friends with everyone I can.

Really, what does one do when they’re stuck staring at the ceiling all night and then told to get up in the morning and operate? I know other people do it. I know it’s the “way” of college students. So why can’t I? Why can I only operate at such a minimal level? I can never get to class after nights like that, but sometimes I do get to work. Sometimes, when it’s really bad, I don’t get to work either.

I started writing a percentage, but no matter how you quantify it, almost all of life is simply showing up. I truly believe that and I don’t practice it in the way that I do show up, but I have learned the hard way how important it is. I have learned how useless hard work and talent is if you are never there. Enthusiasm means nothing if you are not present to spread it. It is frankly quite rude to come in and speak, even if you have something worthwhile to say, when you’ve never been there before.

I have lost total faith in my ability to be punctual. Ever since I was in high school I have been told I am late. I am a late person. I am lectured by my dad all the time. It is my fault. Time seems to slow down at certain moments  but then I come out of the bubble only to find that time has been running normally, and it’s only I that slowed down. How can I so easily loose perception of the earth’s rotation around the sun? I don’t have an answer. How can I just stare at the clock sometimes and watch the digits change like they are meaningless numbers and not a measurement of something much more important? I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I am a tardy person, and I hold immense guilt for it. I carry it around with me everywhere.

So, why not just be on time then, writer? I don’t know! God, I wish I had a good answer, but I don’t. Maybe I’ll start getting ready and I get into this mindset of “fuck it, I’m a late person, this is who I am, I will never get better, just fuck it, let me be late.” I regret it the moment in walk into the classroom and have to stand by the door awkwardly for a moment just to find a seat, and then make a bunch of noise taking my coat on and off. I’m tired of making excuses, so I will tell people that I don’t have one. I don’t. I truly don’t. I am just late, habitually late. I have the power to control it but at the same time haven’t been able to. That doesn’t make any sense. People will ask for an excuse, why are you late? I honestly can’t always just say I don’t have an excuse. You would think I should be applauded for just being blunt and honest about it and not searching for some obvious lie, but they need one.


You know what being late says? Being late says “I don’t value your time. I don’t think this is important. You are not important to me, consciously or subconsciously.” People say this because they believe there is a threshold in which someone can’t be late, for example, an important job interview or your wedding. Those things are important and everything else isn’t to you. I want to fight it and say it’s not true. I do value you. I didn’t mean this. I regret this, please forgive me, I will beg for your forgiveness (actually, I won’t—I’ve learned I can’t spend any more time than is needed letting us dwell on the fact that I am late). But it must be true to some extent. Maybe nothing is important to me. Nothing is important to me at all. Everything is worthless and a waste of time that could have been spent sleeping. So, I am late.

I am going to re-direct this post into this link from a blog called “wait but why.” In this post, Tim Urban talks about a post his friend sent him about how optimistic people have one thing in common—they’re all late!, which is a load of bullshit.


He then goes on to say that he’s perpetually late because he’s insane. I can relate a lot to this short post. I feel that I am a Chronically Late Insane Person (CLIP), which he describes. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 7.17.41 PM
Wait But Why,” “The Instant Gratification Monkey,” and “The Panic Monster” are marks used by us, Wait But Why Inc, to uniquely identify them and I don’t own any of it and all credits go to them and hope this isn’t illegal!

However, there are a couple things I want to point out that Tim didn’t. I am a CLIP, but that is still not a great excuse. I am a CLIP, and that makes me rude and inconsiderate and disrespectful. I am CLIP, and I still get mad sometimes when I’M on time but others are late. I am late and it is a result of being egotistical and not giving a fuck sometimes, or reaching the point of not giving a fuck.

I used to feel terrible about myself when I was late and the impact I am having on other people, but lately the terror stems more toward what I have done to the other party. Even if it’s walking into class late I think about the times I’ve played the position of teacher, and that no matter how many years they may have over me, there is no way it can’t bring anxiety or distraction. I think about how it must affect my coworkers and the extra work they have no real responsibility to do that they are forced to. There are many times where people say “it’s okay” and I know they mean it, and I know they truly don’t mind, but I mind that they don’t mind too! Maybe I am waiting for someone to yell at me.**

In the meantime, the self loathing continues. I walk to class or work or out the door calculating seconds and at the same time just feeling like I not care, but the minute I arrive a pit drops to the bottom of my stomach. I feel afraid and wish for the attention to go away, go away, please please please.

So, how can I recognize all these things and still not feel better? I am a CLIP. CLIP, in Tim’s article, stands for Chronically Late Insane Person. I think I would rename it Chronically Late Insane Problem. I have a CLIP, in this case. I recognize all the difficultly it is causing me in my life. I see myself as a late person and can’t get over this perception of myself and believe I can change. The things about a CLIP is, it needs help to be solved. Yes, at the end of the day it is my own behavior that needs to change. But I need help. I need immense help. Thinking about this and thinking about my lateness—my ultimate achilles heel—is actually make me tear up as I write. I want so badly to conquer this but I’m afraid. I don’t know who to go to for help. I don’t know who to blame for this, because if I understand everything and am still unable to change, then could it be my depression? Is it my dad who instilled such deep seated guilt and shame in who I am as a tardy person rather than encouraging me and helping me?  Or is it just me? I believe the latter the most, and I know I can’t solve it on my own.

I have been at this point before. These aren’t new thoughts. This feeling that I need help isn’t with my insane problem is a new idea. I let this realization come to forefront back when I first read that WaitButWhy article, and for whatever reason, let it be filed away, but here I am writing about it again.

**Back to the part of waiting for someone to yell at me, and to my point about work. I am living in constant fear of losing my job because I am unable to get out of bed in the morning and so I come late and then I get ‘points’ for it. The policy is that 6 points will get you terminated, but at our location  not only does every manager not record points all the time depending on if they like the employee, we are severely understaffed and they overlook it where they need more people or when they have a good worker. It’s not fair. I have had one points meeting before, with one manager who knows I have a “clinical illness” (he’s not stupid and I could make an inference that he too has in the past struggled with similar health issues), and the conversation went about like this: give me a doctor’s note for when you had to go home after your seizure. I am trusting you. I am no longer working in close proximity with that manager. The station in my workplace I spend most of my time at has been passed on to another manager. He is a good guy but I am not willing to be open about shit that is going on with me. Nor do I think it should be used as an excuse, nor do I believe most people would take it as a reasonable one—I know I got lucky last time.

Anyway, I have 14 recorded points, so I had to have a meeting, with another manager, and to be quite honest, it scared me. He says after one more attendance point I will be moved out of this station, but they may give me another chance to work in the other spots. I don’t mind working in the other place. At the same time I would feel so ashamed to be kicked out. And if I am kicked out of there, isn’t it only a matter of time until I’m terminated for good? He’s so careful not to use the “f” word and I guess I appreciated it but at the same time wish he would have been more blunt.

I feel that I’m incapable of staying clean attendance wise. I think there is no way. I have no confidence in my own capability. I need help, but who to reach out to? Isn’t it too late? This leaves me with a question—quit or not? Of course I would rather quit than be fired, that is out of the question. But should I quit before something goes wrong or wait it out or just stay and be optimistic about myself getting better? I’m not optimistic, I’m really not. . I love my job. I said I liked it earlier, but no, I love it. It has been a very positive thing for me. I have gained a lot of friends and experiences and I do not want to give it up. I don’t want to quit. But I’d rather quit than be fired. Of course, the best option is to simply start being on time, right? I feel like that’s so hopeless. I’m terrified, and I know I will go to work constantly afraid now that I am going to be fired. Yes, I would get another chance at the other place, but I can’t imagine the guilt I would feel. I know that what I am doing is not fair. There is a line up of people that want to work in that station. I’m sure there are people that could do my job both better and with good attendance.

I am disposable, after all, and this is somewhat comforting. To believe that I am in a job where I am not disposable, to think that I’m somehow really good and important and needed, and then loose my job…that would be worse. I accepted recently the reality that in the American labor market, we are all easily disposable. It was scary at first but I’ve met people since who I know can be replaced in a minute that think they are important, and I can’t help but shake my head and feel relieved that I’ve already learned my lesson on that part. 

I didn’t tell any of my coworkers what I was thinking or that my manager had that meeting. They would tell me it was bluff, and that I wouldn’t be fired—the people higher up than me would even probably say that. But no matter how much confidence they have, I don’t know if they’ve been in this position and the anxiety that is coming with it all. They don’t know my private life and all my problems. I shouldn’t risk this kind of bluff. And I have that deep seated need to come out on top, as the stronger one who was the bigger person and let it go. 

I should add a few things to this post before I end it, in case I look back at it one day, and also to address all those people who say you should rather get fired than quit. I don’t need unemployment benefits, and if I get fired I am not going to look for a new job, besides an internship which will probably be some unpaid volunteer labor that they somehow classify as a job. If I quit I want to keep the connections of some of the managers—even if any of them mention I am late I have the upper hand in saying that I resigned to work on myself (maybe?!?!). I know I will probably have some job in my life where I’m fired, but I’m not ready for it yet. I have low self esteem. I have saved the money and I am supported by my parents. I should just concentrate on myself. Right? Right?! I’m not out of college yet. It’s a bloody part time job. I thought about that for a moment and did think, why am I putting so much of a deal of it then, but then I did realize that it’s important to me in this time and moment, so I shouldn’t withdraw any status of it’s importance. I get paid so shittily. I can get another job, and I have personal reasons to explain why I quit, and I can get a way better job—something a friend made me realize sometime last semester. I will be 21 soon and this will increase my chances if I really do wha to look around, and if I decide to, I will hold on to my current job until I get interviews. Thus ends the list of more justifications of why I should just leave then for why I should stay.

I think I’m going to order pizza and watch do homework and watch TV and read my book and it will be a night. But first, call mom and cry!


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