I'm a morning person through and through. When I was training for the New York City marathon, I could wake up at 6:11 AM on a Sunday to get my 16, 17, 18-miler in before 11 o’clock church. Before I started working from home, I made a game out of how much I could get done from the time my alarm went off until the time I swiped my Metrocard through the subway turnstile for my morning commute. I’m a single alarm, anti-snooze button, "who needs caffeine?" morning person.
Of course, all of this comes with an asterisk. My brain shuts off in the evening at 9 - 9:30 latest. The most I’m good for at that point is relaxing with a good book or movie, or talking to a friend. I like going to bed early and I like waking up early and I function very poorly on any other schedule.
For a few weeks, though, I’ve been a little (okay, a lot) off schedule. I keep my alarm clock across the bedroom (so yes, I have to physically get up in the morning). It’s only ever backfired once. See, my lampshade is filled with pins from places I’ve traveled to or organizations I’ve worked for. As I went to flip the switch on a particularly groggy morning, I ended up somehow throwing the lamp to the floor. Which meant at 6 in the morning with no lights, the only way to stop the blaring alarm was to tiptoe barefoot through a landmine of sharp pins.
I’ve had finer moments.
Regardless, recently, I’ve found myself sleeping poorly and staying up too late and in general feeling very “off.” This, of course, was bringing me to an anxious and angry place, starting my mornings frustrated that this time I hold sacred was being clouded by a poor schedule.
Then, the other night, before I went to bed, I texted my friend and requested, “Can you send me a message in like an hour or so that just says something like ‘do not sleep in!!! You have a world to go change or something I don’t know!!’ So that I see that when I wake up?” They didn’t respond.
And yet there I was, a few hours later, carefully turning on my pin lamp to shuffle across the room and silence the alarm. I checked my phone to see a message from this friend: “Gotta own this day!! Change the world for the better today! Put things in motion. Be the awesome woman you’re capable of being!”
At 6:31 AM, I typed my response: “No.”
I included the period because every millennial woman knows that means you’re extra over it. I retreated under the covers for about 30 minutes, thinking about how when I’d asked for that pep talk I thought I’d have gotten a better night’s sleep and that really it’s the weekend, anyway, so I should lean into this and that it just isn’t fair and that…
I grabbed my phone and typed a second message: “Fine.”
And the day began.
I was thinking about this, as I happily whisked together pancake batter a few hours later, having had what my heart would call “a peaceful and productive morning.” And I thought back to my text message pep talk.
For weeks, I was stuck in the "it's so unfair" world, as if complaining about the insomnia would cure it. I also knew that sleeping in was only going to further throw me into this weird day/night sleep situation I was fighting. And it was far easier to go back to bed than to think about all of this and that's when I realized: I just needed to be seen. I wanted the recognition and maybe in some ways, a "misery loves company" situation. I wanted to know I wasn't the only one who sometimes had a really bad night or morning or day or whatever.
I wanted to be able to roll my eyes and say “no” (with the period) and I wanted to fully acknowledge for myself the frustration that comes from staying up all night. At the same time, though, I was worried about my sleepless night throwing off my morning vibe.
Morning is holy silence. Morning is yoga and Spanish lessons and all the cups of water. Morning is acoustic music and no technology and journaling. Morning is reading and scheming and dreaming. Morning is not grumbles and frustration and disappointment. And if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I thought I might as well try to sleep it off… which, as we've covered, doesn't help.
So the morning I got the pep talk from my friend - the morning I felt seen and let myself fully feel that "grumble" - was the morning I was most equipped to forgive myself, move on, take a deep breath and "change the world."
And so I got up, I made pancakes, and it was a pretty remarkable day.