Embracing the Night Owl

Goddammit.

I look at my watch and realize I’ve done it again. It’s already 6:30am, not 5am, like I had hoped.  I didn’t get up early enough.  Again.  Now all of my plans are down the tubes, and I know that I’m going to have to rush to make it out the door on time. Ugh. I feel instantly defeated. I’m starting the day behind.

The defeated feeling makes it easier to stay in bed for another couple of minutes. After all, I already know that I don’t have time to write, or to sneak in a workout. I have once again failed at being a zen ninja who gets up at 5 and does ALL THE THINGS.  I’ve failed at being someone who doesn’t have to rush, and who actually looks good by the time they get to work.  Dammit.  Dammit.  Dammit.

I know that disappointed feeling so well.  It got there after years of swallowing so many self-help books, blog posts and podcasts from productivity gurus. It’s there from all of those moments when I heard and believed the messaging we get about early risers. They are the accomplished people among us. They are the ones out there getting the proverbial worms. I don’t know about you, but it’s a message I’ve gotten from childhood; like brushing your teeth and getting regular exercise, getting up early is wholesome. Beneficial. Good.

Let’s just face it; it’s how society is geared. I know that I was taught that “sleeping in” meant laziness. “Sleeping in” meant you weren’t out there seizing the day. No one looks down on an early riser.  The 9-5 work day has long been the standard. School starts before 9AM. Plus, you early birds have the comfort of knowing that you are following in the footsteps of some truly great people. Ben Franklin? Early riser. Oprah? Crack of dawn. Michelle Obama? On the treadmill by 4:30AM.

I bought into those productivity goals hardcore. I set them for myself. And I tried. I mean, I really tried to make it work. 

Until one day, after another frustrating morning, when I was sick of beating myself up as soon as I was awake enough to do so, I realized that I was constantly fighting my natural tendency, and maybe it was wiser to not battle against myself.   Like, maybe mornings really aren’t for me.  Maybe that’s ok.  Maybe there’s another way.

The thought alone was freeing.  I’m a night owl.  I don’t relish early mornings.  Never really have.  That’s alright. I’m great at staying up late.

It was one of those unique moments in life when the puzzle piece just fits.  It feels like something just goes “click” in your brain, and you’re able to look back on your life with new perspective.  (In my case, I realized that the price I’ve been paying for being a night owl is a lot of grumpy, rushed mornings and self-blame.) It helped me realize that I wasn’t just continuously “failing.”  It may be that I simply am not designed to perform at my best early in the day.  Which explains why I never managed to adjust to early mornings, even after years of trying.  Every morning I felt like I was struggling to get things done, and still barely making it out the door.

Realizing that I’ve just swallowed a lot of pro-morning propaganda has brought about a feeling of liberation almost akin to a religious epiphany; it’s given me so much more joy in my dark little heart. I’ve always had more fun at night and been a night person. Squishing myself into that perceived more “wholesome”day-friendly schedule has been nothing short of painful.

Such an obvious thing to overlook in myself and to never have respected properly. Well, I get it now, and I won’t continue to punish myself for my own nature. It might not be what so many gurus recommend, but I have to do what works for me.  I already know that letting go of this expectation and changing my schedule a bit is making me happier.

 

 

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