“This is really why our day goes so fast – even time on is double quick speed”
What you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting for? Gwen Stefani challenged herself and the world with those words in her magnificent and very successful song to self-believe and motivation.
It has become a bit of a personal anthem for me, especially the line “take a chance ‘cos you might grow” (not sadly the bit “you’re still a super hot female” or even more sadly “you’ve got your million dollar contract and they’ll all waiting for you hot shot”). It would pop into my mind on repeat, a most enabling mantra, spurring me ever on, particularly when I severely doubted I had any abilities. It has been extremely effective as a “stop faffing and bloody get on with it slogan” during times of paralysing procrastination. Usually I was actionless because I was too scared. This is because I am so risk averse I would make a Health & Safety officer working in a firework factory staffed by chain smokers look devil-may-care in comparison.
But recently I have discovered, and not to my delight or satisfaction that the tick tock part of the song is the real message for me. I am terrified, to a pathological level of being late or veering off schedule and yet I don’t seem to have the tools or abilities in my behaviour to stay on track. The deafening tick tock of an impending deadline makes me lose all ability to function like a normal human being.
To give you a recent example, the pressure of delivering four boys to lessons on time in their first week of High School was too much for me when I felt the minutes disappear quicker than the sight of Usain Bolt’s back if you were foolish enough to challenge him to the 100 metres dash and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to keep to the timetable in my head. I became a completely different person, quoting bits of “helpful” time management suggestions I had read in the school’s transition booklet. It was like the past 40 plus years of social engagement and civilised interaction had never happened. I had become Dr Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, spurting out ridiculous and unnecessary rules and regulations to try to cover up my anxiety. My friend was left wondering where the real Natalie had gone. I had to wonder too.
But it did bring this lateness thing to a head. It pushed it out in the undeniable open. I could then see that despite often being late myself. I hate hate hate being late. I get such tension in my stomach, I feel such anxiety. My internal monologue becomes a countdown of such annihilating doom it would make nuclear 4 minute warning sound cozy and inviting. Every second over the deadline, my brain screams at me, will result in total armageddon. This is not a pleasant way to conduct my life, and I really detest how I feel at time like that, so why can’t I just get myself going five minutes earlier?
What does all this prove? That I am still fundamentally a teenager? Still sticking two fingers up at the system? Essentially anarchistic and unable to comply? Or that like every other mother in the world, working or stay at home, there is just too much to be done on a daily basis, and we are squeezing every last minute, no every last second, out of every day? In an episode of The Simpsons the family have to evacuate 742 Evergreen Terrace toute de suite, but Marge can’t leave that last dish on the draining board and risks death to return to the kitchen to dry the plate and put it away. There is always something else to tidy up, clear away, sort out, and all to be done before there is any hope of doing something you might actually enjoy!
At one workplace they identified I had time management problems and said they were going to me some help. I really wanted someone one to come in and sort out my filing. They gave me a book to read. Yes you can imagine just how effective that was. Chocolate Fire-guard anyone?
Over the years I have got slightly better, but I resent feeling a slave to my routine, that time is my master and that if I am to get everything done I need to be conscious of every second of the day. Woebetide me or anyone that gets in the way of the SCHEDULE.
So here I am, admitting that I don’t like this behaviour, being aware of it and trying to make amends before I give myself an ulcer. I think I might still be a work in progress though, writing this blog today meant I was two minutes late leaving the house than my schedule allows. Normally I would still be able to get to work on time, but not today, oh no, road works on the ring road, cue grinding of teeth, and may I just say that anyone doing 28 in a 60 zone needs to be taken off the road IMMEDIATELY AND PERMANENTLY. I got into work 3 minutes late, a colleague looked up at that betraying clock on the wall, not a word needed to be spoken, my insides churned and my mind cringed. Still I haven’t left on time either for the past two weeks, or had a full lunch break this term, so I am more than fufilling my work commitment. But I live in hope that tomorrow I will be on time, calm and serene and in the meantime I will have another quick play of Gwen to fortify my resolve.