Let me be clear here: I am not a morning person and wasn’t ever in the past, even as a kid. I’ve tried everything to capture the zeal of my early-bird husband. He bustles about, chirping merrily like some very low-pitched bird while he makes me coffee. I, on the other hand, basically look like murder if anyone rouses me before 8 in the morning.
What have I tried, you may ask? Morning coffee, and no caffeine after 12 p.m. Special alarms. Forgoing technology at night. Light-blocking filters on my phone. Refusing to nap. Exercising in the morning. Opening the blinds to let light in. In each case my body not only resisted me but actually became more of a late sleeper, just for spite.
But here’s the thing (I imagine all the sleep-inners readying their spears). Most of the time you need to be a morning person. Hilariously, one of the reasons I decided to freelance full-time was the perk of leisurely mornings in athleisure (pjs). But then I got a writing and editing gig that was the opportunity I’d always wanted. The price of that gig? A 4:30 wakeup, and not the p.m. one.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Everyone else in my life (save my mother-in-law, bless) gets up earlier than I do. By the time I arise, the day’s half over. I don’t believe that “the universe” is telling me anything—see also the relevant Amy Schumer/Bill Nye sketch—but I do believe that sometimes there are things that you’re “meant” to do. Even if it just means that a life change simplifies, fits better, and feels like the missing piece.
I was quite hopeful early on. Issa Rae, one of my heroes, said on Twitter,“I didn’t become a morning person until I started doing what I loved.” I’m doing what I love! I thought. In my mind, I’d wake up refreshed every morning and prance to my laptop like Snow White in a pink bathrobe.
I am here to tell you that this was misguided. After a brief optimistic period during which I flew out of bed like I was late for a morning flight, I descended into the depths of grogginess. My husband would come down, observe me in bed on my phone, and ask me if I was ever getting up. “I’m technically conscious!” I would shout from under the covers.
Then, in my paranoia over potentially missing deadlines, I started waking up before my alarm. Sometimes hours before. It was not refreshing, and I need my mental cognition to write. After I lived out my worst fear (accidentally writing “they’re” instead of “there”), I realized I needed to redouble my efforts at this whole up-early thing.
Now, I’ve cracked it. Here is my secret to becoming a morning person: recognizing I’m not a morning person.
I have simply accepted with as much grace as possible that my crabby ass will always be crabby. Instead, I create workarounds: annoying joyful Christmas music on my alarms (yes, alarms, more than one, even though I try to get up right away), an entirely shifted sleep schedule so that I’m getting up at 7 a.m. at the very latest, and forced ritual. I eat at the same time, brush my teeth at the same time, and get into bed around 9 p.m. after punching my timecard as an official old person.
It’s easy — you can do it too! I am now running solely on the power of my dreams and my hatred of getting up before the sun. It’s going better than it has been. Real talk: I’ll never enjoy it. But I love what I do, so it’s worth it (chugs fourth cup of coffee).