Why ADHDers are late, pt. 4: Fear of being early

Most people with ADHD have a borderline pathological fear of being early. If you are always trying to walk in exactly on time, erring on the side of not being early… you’re going to be late a lot! So, why are we so afraid of being early? Easy. We are afraid of being bored and of “wasting time.”

To truly understand this, you need to understand how we as ADHDers experience boredom. Granted there is always an exception. Some ADHDers are so involved in their own rich inner life that they can get lost in their own heads anytime, any place. (From this point on, assume that I’m speaking for the majority, but not all ADHDers.) And for most of us, boredom is our Kryptonite. We experience boredom as almost physically painful. We need stimulation in a way that neurotypical people don’t. When we don’t have that stimulation, it’s super uncomfortable.

Being early requires us to wait in one place, observe generally accepted societal norms of behavior like leaving our shoes on, not be optimally stimulated, and not get anything productive done… or at least that’s how it feels. And that was more likely the case in the past. But, these days, we can play on our phone, get work done on wifi, step out of the waiting room and take a call, read on or phone or kindle, or any number of things that I’m not even thinking about right now. Yes, there is still an element of forced structure. And, we probably still can’t take our shoes off. But, being 10 minutes early is hardly the cruel and unusual punishment it was before.

But sometimes the reality takes a while to catch up with us. We often have such a strong aversion to being early, and it’s been so long since we were early, that we don’t notice that it’s not so bad. In my opinion, it is certainly better than that horrible feeling of always being late, rushing, and feeling incompetent. Over time I’ve learned to enjoy being a bit early. All I can do is read, which gives me an excuse to do so and not worry about what I’m not getting done.

Just try being on early once in a while. You might actually like it.

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

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