A couple of months ago I came across an article in Elite Daily about people who tend to run late and one common feature was that they were optimists. I am one of those people and I tend to run around 5 minutes late for most of my appointments. I can remember being late for school in fifth grade and having to sprint to school most days. A positive byproduct of this was I won a number of awards in track and field. Despite the lack of awards for most of my life this pattern continues and for some reason it is hard to break.
What struck me as odd when I read the article was that it seemed inconsistent/at odds with being Dsythymic. Aren’t depressed people negative about everything or at least most things? From my perspective I am negative about most things however when it comes to multitasking and estimating time I am curiously rather optimistic.
According to the article one common feature of the chronically late is that they tend to be optimistic. Somewhat unexpected. I have usually thought of people who run late as possibly unmotivated/ self absorbed /undisciplined /unorganized /disagreeable but never as optimistic. More specifically, people who are late are apparently bad at estimating how much time it takes to do something and tend to be more big picture types of people.
A second article in the NYT said that the chronically late tend to either be addicted to the adrenaline rush of a deadline or feel good about accomplishing so many tasks in a short period of time. Many late people tend to optimistic and unrealistic, she said, and that affects their perception of time.
They really believe that they can go for a run, pick up the clothes at the dry cleaners, buy groceries and drop off the kids at school in an hour. They remember that single shinning day 10 years ago when they really did all those things in 10 minutes flat, and forget all those other times when everything took much, much longer. (NYT 2007)
In a third article on the topic, by the same researcher as the one in the NYT, mentioned some more characteristics.
DeLonzor identified links between chronic lateness and certain personality characteristics, including anxiety, low self-control and a tendency toward thrill-seeking( Huffington Post 2013)
The researcher mentioned two additional reasons for chronic lateness. A third group consists of absent minded professors who might have ADD. The fourth group consists of the rebel who likes to annoy people with their lateness and this could be due to feelings of inferiority. Making others wait makes them feel more important. The fourth group is the least common.
When thinking about myself the adrenaline rush makes some sense in regard to depression since my depression is the low energy variety where anything that causes an adrenaline rush would conceivably correct for the defect. I remember writing most of my papers for English literature the night before. I simply could not be creative without the threat of a deadline. I can also identify with the type who tries to accomplish many things with in a short period of time. I t makes me feel very efficient and productive. Either explanation could give a depressive a nice dopamine rush. The rebel explanation is also somewhat relatable too however in my case it has more to do with rebelling against societies values. In my opinion being five minutes late isn’t that terrible and there are more important things to focus on in life such as solving problems and being creative. What is also interesting here is the fact that being on time is of more importance with people who have lower rank in society. Medical doctors are notoriously late but are not chastised like others with lower status.
The idea that late people hold onto or focus on a time in their life when they were the most productive is rather interesting and I can definitely relate. Even though I have chronic depression, I still do focus to a great extent on my euthymic periods when I was very productive. I don’t hear this from most Dsythymics who seem to embrace their depression to a greater degree. This makes me wonder in turn if my real personality is quite different than my Dsythymic one.
It also occurred to me also that arriving too early for an appointment causes me anxiety and one article supported the idea of mental illness playing a role. Sitting somewhere and waiting without anything to do tends to heighten my anxiety. If one is running late one is occupied with doing something on the way to an appointment. Additionally, it annoys me to a degree that my life revolves around other people that I often don’t like. I guess the remedy for this would be to take along a book so that I am doing something I enjoy while waiting for an appointment.