The other night, I found myself involved in a conversation debating the merits of showing up early or late to any given event. I happened to mention that I have this tendency to arrive perpetually early to just about everything. A friend of mine said that she would like to have that problem. I’m here to tell you, being early to everything is as much a curse as it is a blessing.
It may not be so bad for the half of the population that considers themselves extroverts. For an introvert, such as me, arriving early can provide a plethora of awkward situations. This is particularly true if I don’t know a single person that’s already there.
Another problem comes when one’s patience is tested. If you’re impatient, boredom can quickly overtake you as you wait for other people to arrive. For the impatient, boredom can lead to irritation and frustration which, if you’re not careful, can be misdirected at those you perceived to have kept you waiting. Not the best way to make friends.
Don’t get me wrong, being early has its up sides. After all, you’re sure not to miss anything important. If food’s involved, you’ll have the chance to get the good stuff while it’s still warm. And you can avoid the embarrassment of making a scene and calling attention to yourself when you make a late entrance. Unless that’s something you’re going for. Like I said, I’m the introvert of the group, so I usually try to avoid that kind of spotlight. Usually.
Some of you may be asking, “Aaron, how can I be perpetually early?” Well, I’m not sure that it’s something I can teach. For me, I think it’s an innate trait. I really don’t like being late. In fact, in college, if I knew I’d be even five minutes late to class, I’d have rather not gone. But let’s give this a shot.
- Set your alarm for an hour before you actually think you need it. This is particularly helpful at the start of the day after waking from a decent night’s sleep. It also helps to be a morning person. This, I’ve discovered, is a very hard thing to become. Most of the time, you either are or are not comfortable with the early morning. I believe anyone can train themselves to become morning people, but it’s very difficult and requires a great deal of discipline. And possibly caffeine.
- Figure out, on average, how long it takes you to get ready. Don’t worry, I won’t make a broad generalization and claim that men always get ready faster than women. I’ve known a number of women who can be ready to go in 15 minutes or less. I’ve also known men who take an hour and a half trying to make their hair look like they just rolled out of bed. However long it takes, learn your get ready schedule and stick to it. Then you’ll know the absolute latest you can begin getting ready to leave. To be safe, add an extra 15 minutes.
- Determine if you have incentive to arrive early. As I mentioned earlier, food can be an incentive to get to your destination early. Maybe seeing a particular person is enough to make you get to where you’re going. Maybe you want to get to a party early because you want to talk to a girl you like. Or, for the introvert, you want to give her a chance to come talk to you as you stand awkwardly in the corner praying that either no one notices you or at least she does.
There you have it. Not an elaborate list. But I said it’s likely it can’t be taught. You either tend to arrive early or late. People will come to know this (whatever the case) about you and love you for it, ridicule you for it, or both.