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Tim Urban on the time you have left with your loved ones

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time.

Shamay Agaron
Shamay Agaron
. 3 min read

Having graduated college semi-recently and moved into my own place right after, I haven’t been living with my family for almost 5 years now. This isn’t that long a time for most, but bear with me.

The pandemic and ensuing lockdown has caused many people I know to move back home with their families to quarantine. This obviously causes a bit of tension because we aren’t used to living with them anymore.

Personally, I feel like I revert back to childish habits when I come home - remnants of my high-school self that I haven’t seen in a while. I also associate my family’s home with relaxation since the only times I came back were for holidays, breaks, and so on. This makes it incredibly difficult to get anything done there, so I just stopped trying altogether in the past.

That being said, I was really nervous about quarantining with my family. It was hard to imagine not going insane working from home alongside my parents and two younger siblings. But I’m here now, and it’s… surprisingly fine.

I’m thankful that this pandemic has forced me to learn to live with my family in a healthier way. It’s helped me feel more like myself by overcoming the mental blocks I had with being home. It’s also given me a chance to spend more time with my family, which I’ve been thinking about a lot.

Around Christmas time in 2015, Tim Urban put out a short article that helps visualize the time you have left with the important people in your life:

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time.

And for those who have a strained relationship with their parents, think about friends:

The same often goes for old friends. In high school, I sat around playing hearts with the same four guys about five days a week. In four years, we probably racked up 700 group hangouts. Now, scattered around the country with totally different lives and schedules, the five of us are in the same room at the same time probably 10 days each decade. The group is in its final 7%.

It’s weird thinking about these things as percentages, but it also puts things into perspective. It’s sad to think about, but you’ve probably lived through 90% of your time with these people.

Luckily, this isn’t set into stone. You could extend the time you have with someone. In that sense, I see the lockdown as a blessing in disguise because it’s added a few months of precious time with my parents that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

This framing has helped me a lot with thinking about my relationships. Here are a few takeaways:

1) Living in the same place as the people you love matters. I probably have 10X the time left with the people who live in my city as I do with the people who live somewhere else.
2) Priorities matter. Your remaining face time with any person depends largely on where that person falls on your list of life priorities. Make sure this list is set by you—not by unconscious inertia.
3) Quality time matters. If you’re in your last 10% of time with someone you love, keep that fact in the front of your mind when you’re with them and treat that time as what it actually is: precious.
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