A Response to the Absurd Notion that Being Late Represents Admirable Optimism

Some time ago, I chanced upon an article published on online news platform Elite Daily. The article, titled “Optimistic People All Have One Thing In Common: They’re Always Late“, made me think. A lot.

The article is, in my opinion, very millennial-ly.  It defends the chronically late on the basis that they are not inconsiderate, but just “fundamentally hopeful”. The argument is that looking on the bright side of life, they believe that they can fit more tasks into a limited amount of time than others and therefore end up late when they realize they can’t.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely cannot see my mother thinking this way. This argument, in my opinion, pretty much summarizes why Generation Y, for all the self-centered behavior they both exhibit and condone, is nicknamed ‘Generation Me‘.

The article goes on to emphasize that their hopefulness reflects an innate optimism, which means they are happier, less stressed and more easygoing than their on-time friends. It even goes as far as claiming that they “don’t sweat over the small stuff”, but rather “concentrate on the big picture and see the future as full of infinite possibilities”.

(Warning – this post is a little bit of a rant.)

Excuse me? How did we get from “chronically late” to “seeing the future as full of infinite possibilities”?

The idea that those who are often late simply are this way because they think they can fit in more in the little time that they have before running out the door is absurd. Think about it. How often are you late because you were actually doing constructive?

“Sorry I’m late, I was doing the dishes, studying for my exam and tutoring a friend.” Yes, because that’s a perfectly normal sentence that we say all the time.

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GIF from giphy.com

I think I can speak for most of us that when we’re late, it’s because we snoozed our alarm and slept in an extra 10 minutes, was sidetracked by a funny article shared by a Facebook friend or spent longer in the shower than we needed to. These are hardly productive activities, and are in no way an excuse for being late.

According to the article, when those with a tendency for tardiness aren’t squeezing in as much productivity as possible before inevitably turning up late, they’re living in the present, unbothered by the past and unfazed by whatever awaits in the future.

Seriously? Yes, we should stop and smell the roses. It allows us to reflect, to see things in perspective, to appreciate the little things that we take for granted. But there is a time and place for everything, and that time is not 8:55 a.m. and that place is not tucked comfortably under the covers of your warm bed.

If you’re always late, you have a poor sense of time management. You have lived long enough to know approximately how long it takes for you to climb out of bed, get dressed and leave the house. If you stop thinking that your time is worth more than others’, it’s not as hard as you think.

Of course, the importance of punctuality varies. Arriving 30 minutes late to a big birthday celebration poses no significant consequence compared to being 15 minutes late to a dinner date. But chances are, if you’ve allowed yourself to get comfortable with turning up late when you think your punctuality doesn’t matter, you won’t be on time when it actually does.

I am in no way perfect when it comes to punctuality. 9 a.m. classes are a struggle, especially when I’ve been up late finishing an assignment – an assignment I should have started earlier, but didn’t, because I’ll admit that I don’t always manage my time well. I’m working on it, and so should those who are often late, instead of embracing this habit as something positive.

On the occasions that I am five, 10 or – God forbid – 15 minutes late, I would never attribute my lateness to being “fundamentally hopeful”, and therefore more optimistic, stop-and-smell-the-roses, happy-go-lucky than my punctual friends. I misjudged my time, and I’ll be honest about it.

There is a fine line between living in the moment and being an inconsiderate jerk.

Don’t walk that line.

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