There are three words that I absolutely dread having to say: sorry I’m late. Even thinking about being late sends chills up and down my spine.

I do everything in my power to avoid being late, even things that seem a bit unorthodox to those who aren’t concerned with punctuality.

For those of us constantly running early, our days actually begin the night before. The previous night is a great time to get everything laid out so that the morning runs smoothly.

This can include making lunch, laying out clothes and packing a backpack or purse. When I get up in the morning, I like to have a plan from the get-go.

And as someone who loves to be punctual, I couldn’t imagine living without a planner. In my particular case, I couldn’t imagine living without three separate planners.

I keep a day-by-day planner, a desk calendar and, the newest addition to my planning, an application on my phone called Trello, which allows me to plan tasks and keep track of my work life.

My friends know me as the person who arrives at least 20 minutes early everywhere I go. I have spent unspeakable amounts of time just waiting in my car for others to show up.

I’m the person circling the neighborhood so that I don’t show up 15 minutes early to a party. Although I can’t bear to be “fashionably late,” I can compromise with myself to arrive right on time in lieu of my usual early routine.

However, I always come prepared with my phone and a book or homework assignment to keep me occupied. I actually find that this is when I am most productive because I have about 20 minutes of uninterrupted time.

This means I have time to check emails, catch up on assignments or do some reading for pleasure.

Some people have assumed that my love of being early equates to hating people who are always running late. On the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. I almost envy those who can arrive 15 minutes late without so much as a blink of an eye.

First of all, they arrive late without so much as a sign of being stressed out, whereas I would be a bundle of nerves. Second, people expect them to be late, so it’s not a big deal when they are.

When I am late, even by a few minutes, people who know me well automatically begin calling me. They can’t imagine that I would be late unless something catastrophic happened.

I will take all the awkwardness that goes along with being early in stride, though, because I just can’t imagine myself being any other way. I will accept myself, punctuality and all.

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