My kind of time

How has living in Spain changed me? I often get that question after explaining I spent there four and a half years. Well, the most noticeable change is how I deal with time. This phrase probably sounds familiar ‘Mañana, mañana’, which literally means ‘tomorrow tomorrow’. And what does that actually mean?

Well in other words ‘mañana mañana’ means ‘I’ll see whenever I feel like doing that’. Another typical ‘rule’  in Spain is also that it’s ok to arrive late. Of course this is stereotyping, but I must say I live up to the stereotype.

I used to be great at planning my free time. Better said, I loved planning my free time. There was always something to do and I was always on time. Very Dutch of me.. That all changed when I arrived in Spain. You might wonder why? Well, because one needs to adapt itself to a new situation. And no, not everyone in Spain arrives late, but my friends definitely did.

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So what happened in the beginning? I arrived on time and at the agreed location. Twenty minutes later I was still standing there, waiting. And how much I liked planning my free time, I hated waiting. Five minutes was acceptable, but ten minutes got annoying, imagine twenty. I had one simple solution, arrive late myself. I must tell you, that was the perfect solution. From then on I arrived between ten and fifteen minutes late and sometimes I still had to wait for my friends.

After being ‘fully’ adapted to the Spanish lifestyle I decided to go back to the Netherlands. This caused a new problem. I arrived late, for everything, well except for work of course. And trust me, Dutch people don’t like waiting and they’re always on time. Hmm.. that sounds familiar. Wasn’t I like that before?

I realized I had to think of a new solution for the new me. I just got so used to saying ‘Yeah, sure I’m on my way’ which actually meant ‘I’m almost done and I’ll leave in about ten minutes’. I knew that I wasn’t going to make my Dutch friends and family happy arriving late all the time. Even though I think they secretly count on it.. But since I don’t want to be mean I have to fool myself. I’ll tell myself I’m meeting whoever about fifteen minutes earlier than I actually will. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work, because I’ll suddenly need ten minutes more to get ready. No clue what for actually.

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But what do I prefer? Being on time and possibly waiting or arriving late? For sure, the last one and why? Because being in a hurry to arrive on time stresses me out. It always has and I’m pretty sure it always will. It is a hard nut to crack actually, because if I’m running really late, I’ll still stress out. I don’t want other people to be waiting for me either, that would be selfish. I guess that as long as I stay within my acceptable fifteen minutes late, it’s ok. It’s my own buffer zone. And that little trick I learned from my friends in Spain.

Of course for the really important appointments I’ll be on time. I’m even wearing a watch again and I try to follow my agenda. But just in case, count on me arriving a bit late. I, on the other hand will do my best to be punctual. Perhaps after spending four and half years in the Netherlands again, I’ll be like the old me.. I wouldn’t hold my breath though, what if I need more time?

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