In 1999 I stopped wearing a watch.
There was no pomp and circumstance, I just decided, one day, to stop.
Before that, I loved watches. I had a ring watch, and several wristwatches that I wore faithfully. Growing up, it was the one piece of acceptable “jewelry” I could wear to church.
But by 1999 I’d rebelled and was wearing earrings, bracelets, necklaces along with my watch. But in 1999 the watch had to go.
Why? Because one day in 1999 I was leaving my New York apartment to get to the train station to go to work. I left at the same time everyday. There was a window of opportunity that I never missed.
On this particular day, as I left my apartment and started walking to the train station, I noticed something.
I wasn’t late, I was hardly ever late, but in the two minute walk to the train station I’d looked at my watch 5 times!
That’s when I started to take notice of the thing that caused me to get rid of my watch in 1999.
I noticed my anxiety as it related to time.
Growing up I wasn’t late. Id’ grown up knowing that being on time was respectful and when it was my responsibility to be somewhere, I was there early or right on time, hardly ever late.
But every time I looked at my watch (every 30 seconds or so) I was telling myself, I was late. Knowing I wasn’t, but buying into the idea that maybe I was late.
It’s a bit odd when you think about it.
We wear watches for time, for decoration or to stay on task. Yet, for some of us, it’s a point of anxiety.
So, one day, in 1999 I decided to stop wearing watches to see what would happen. Would my day get thrown off? Would I start being late? What if I wasn’t able to look at my watch every 30 seconds, what would happen?
You know what happened? Less stress.
Maybe, that timepiece is causing more stress than necessary because it’s an accessible reminder of our perceived slackness.
The imagined ticking clock we have in our heads when it comes to having babies, professional success, getting married or whatever we feel behind on could be tied to our timepieces.
There’s a time to watch the clock, and there’s a time to forget there’s a clock.
It’s 2019. It’s been 20 years since I’ve owned a watch. In that time I got married (late), I had two babies (late) and my career has changed again (late). But life is grand! And if being late feels right. . . .
Maybe, being late isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe, removing the anxiety of the elusive ticking clock could be good for you too.