One is the loneliest number…

… and you’re always alone when you’re early.

Annoyingly early. That’s me. I have to force myself to be late or even on time. Consistently, I arrive at my intended location 20-30 minutes early. Fashionably late? Never. You’ll find me sitting in my car forcing myself to wait until my clock says ten minutes until the event time, which I view as an appropriate early arrival.

Consistent timeliness has proven  itself both a blessing and a curse. I take pride in the fact that I can manage my time in such a way that it does not communicate disrespect or create additional stress for those I am meeting with due to a late arrival. However, in turn, it can turn very awkward, very fast, when it is just me and the host awaiting the “late” arrivals.

The tension of staying true to who I am (someone who believes that timeliness and promptness communicate respect) and not wanting to be a loner is something I deal with daily. When meeting someone or attending and event (or working), I view showing up when requested as a way of validating the individual/organization that invited me. In essence, I am saying through my timely arrival, that they matter, are valuable, and I respect them.

While studying abroad in Ireland in 2004 (how old am I?!), my view of timeliness = respect was disrupted. It was common to be invited to a family’s home after church for tea, and I initially jumped at the chance to experience Irish homes/families. In my mind, I would leave within ten minutes after the service ended, have tea for about an hour, and then be on my way to finish homework, etc. Well intentioned plans were smashed as I waited for almost an hour to even go to their homes, didn’t have tea for another hour, and ended up staying for FOUR hours. Forgetting that I had been invited into THEIR homes, I was upset that they weren’t respecting me by observing the time more closely. Throughout my four months abroad, I grew to appreciate slowing down and being accommodating in the reverse of what I was accustomed.

Although I can see value in assimilating into a culture, I see value in setting oneself a part as well. I’m an early bird. Always have been. Always will be. I have chosen to make modifications so that I do not arrive crazy early so as not to make anyone else uncomfortable, but me…sitting in the parking lot, waiting to go inside 🙂

Conclusion: No matter if you are consistently early or tardy, it is helpful to make a conscious effort to respect those around you and understand who you are dealing with – and to adjust accordingly. Just because you are always early or always late, doesn’t mean that everyone will accept that excuse. What are some things you can do to curb your earliness/tardiness? How obtainable is that goal in the next week?

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