I didn’t make a blog to passive aggressively complain about people or to promote my holier-than-thou agenda like many personal blogs do, and this post may come off that way, but I’m going to go ahead anyway. These are simply my thoughts behind one of our society’s most highly neglected, common courtesies.
People who know me, even people who barely know me, know that I like to be punctual. I am early for a cappella rehearsals, for meetings, for classes, and yes, even I am even early for those loose meeting times friends set on their group texts: if someone says “meet you at 5pm at the front gates,” I’ll be there no later than 4:57.
You can blame it on my type A personality, you can blame it on some latent obsessive compulsive tendency or tell me I’m too uptight about being on time, but I attribute it to something deeper than just a personality trait.
I am punctual because I have a deep-seated belief that my time is no more valuable than anyone else’s.
When people are late, I don’t take it as a sign of disorganization or forgetfulness, I just find it generally disrespectful. To me, you’re saying that those 10 minutes of your time are more valuable than the 10 minutes I spend standing there waiting for you or even the 20 seconds it would take for you to let me know you will be delayed.
I should add that, while almost all people aren’t actively thinking that their time is more important, I believe that being late has become so acceptable that people no longer even consider it to be an issue. 5-10 minutes late has become the norm and I find it absurd that if someone wants to leave at 5, they have to ask to meet at 4:45.
I think that this is a problem we chronically face, especially in a competitive college environment: many people think that their time is so much more valuable than the time of the person sitting next to them. Just because you have three papers due in the next two days, doesn’t mean that you can shirk the responsibilities you have committed to. Chances are, other people are pitching in their busy time between writing their own three papers.
This is also goes hand in hand with something I call “the race to the bottom” or “one-downing”. It’s a like “one-upping” but … well, the opposite.
Allow me to elaborate: I frequently find that if one friend is complaining to another that they only got three hours of sleep the previous night, the other friend feels the need to retaliate that that only got one hour of sleep the night before and that they have four classes that day.
Why do we do this?
Why do we feel the need to be worse off than the people around us? Everyone’s life is hard, everyone is busy. You’re in college, and everyone is the choir. Don’t preach.
If your friend is upset and needs someone to vent to, don’t pitch in your own hardships, just let them know you’re sorry how hard it’s been. Telling them that your life is harder doesn’t make them feel any better and shouldn’t make you feel any better either (and if it does, you need to re-evaluate some things in your life).
And, let me clarify, I am not above any of this. I can’t claim that I’ve never snapped at a friend for complaining about a paper they have due the next day when my own schedule is jam packed of various things, but I’ve come to reserve that kind of complaining for phone calls with my mom or pounding them out with long runs. While it can be difficult to listen to someone act as though their life is more difficult than yours, there is no justification for stooping to their level and trying to “one-down” them.
So this finals season, wherever you may be, whatever test you may be preparing for, be a friend.