I was in highschool when I really perfected the art of staying up until 2am. I spent my evenings rearranging my room and listening to music that I’d downloaded from Limewire on my computer. On those nights, when I knew my parents were already in bed and they wouldn’t come knocking on my door, that’s when I truly felt free, in my own oasis under the moon.
In college, I spent my weeknights writing school papers long into the early-morning hours, and my weekend nights drinking with my friends until the sun rose. Those were the days when my waitressing shift started at 4pm, so waking up at 1pm was totally reasonable.
I had a distinct pride in being a night owl. It just felt cooler.
During my first week of work in Washington, DC, I set my alarm for 7:20am. It was painful. Each morning I felt as if I was fighting with myself just to start the day. My bed was a magnet that would not let me go. My eyelids had an equal attraction to each other. I wish I could tell you it got easier, but it didn’t, really. For two years, I dreaded the morning.
He changed that for me.
When we first started dating, he told me that he woke up at 6:15am every morning. This, to me, seemed a little ridiculous. Though I was only waking up an hour later the shift seemed like a big one.
In truth, it was a small area of concern for me.
My god, I found myself thinking. I really like this guy, but damn, I hate getting up early.
He told me that he had once been a person who also considered himself a night owl, but the combination of his growing set of passions and hobbies, things he couldn’t always find the time for in a day, and two-years spent in Senegal, had changed that.
“I went to bed when the sun went down, and I got up when the sun went up.” He shrugged. “There was really nothing else to do.”
The mornings for him are a sacred space. A time when he can focus on the work he wants to get done, aside from the work at his day-job. His morning routine is something of a ritual.
Here’s what it looks like: The alarm goes off. He snoozes it once. At the second alarm he bounces out of bed and makes coffee. With coffee in hand, he then opens his computer. Sometimes he scrolls through the news or his phone for a bit, then he begins to write, study or draw. He does this for about an hour and a half. Then, he gets up, gets ready for work, and proceeds with his day.
During a yoga class we went to one evening they asked the group a question: What keeps you grounded?
“Waking up early in the morning.” He responded.
Knowing how important the mornings had become to him, I came prepared the first morning we spent together at his place. I brought a book to read.
When the alarm went off, I found I didn’t even need to fight to wake up. Just the pure excitement of waking up close to someone again brought my body into full-alert. His arms snaked around me, and we smiled soft, sleepy smiles at each other. After a few moments, he got out of bed to make some coffee. When he returned he carried two steaming mugs in his hand – the only two mugs in his apartment – one for him and one for me.
Especially in the early days, we spent some of our time working and much of our time laughing and sipping coffee. Sometimes I worried that I was distracting him. But each moment we spent together in the mornings didn’t feel like wasted time, it felt like precious time. Time to enjoy the easy comfort of each other’s presence. It was during those mornings that we began to know each other for who we really were; without the stresses of the day already upon us, we were our unguarded, stripped-down selves.
Eventually, we slipped into our own pleasant routine. For me, the early morning wake-up became easier. I found that I was actually using the time to work on projects long forgotten. For the first time in years, I began to write consistently again. I even started waking up early on the mornings I spent alone. Granted, it is still a bit harder when I’m alone, and there are mornings when I slip off to sleep again, but most mornings the promise of coffee sitting downstairs makes me pull the covers off and enter the cool morning air.
Slowly, just as he did, I began to fall in love with the mornings.
Now, instead of seeing my alarm as a dreaded inevitability, I see it as an opportunity. With more time in the mornings, I’m no longer rushed as I start my day. I don’t pop out of bed and go right to the sink to wash my face, put on my work clothes and makeup. I’ve found the space to ease into the daylight, enjoy my coffee, and write down my most recent thoughts or inspirations. Plus, in the mornings, I have an extra few hours in the day with him.
I think we love each other the most in the mornings. When eyes stay half-closed and he’s as silly as he ever is. When all that matters is finding warmth next to each other's bodies and greeting the day slowly. The sun streams in the big bedroom window and we take turns getting out of bed to brew our coffee (though, I think he does it 65% of the time). We sit, and we work on what we’re passionate about. We get each other’s advice. We curl up in each other’s arms. With messy hair, and loose clothes, and no other input, yet, from the outside world - the mornings are for us.
We, the morning people.
Tips for Becoming a Morning Person:
My god, you aren’t a super-human. If you can you should try to get 8-hours of sleep. Meaning, if you go to bed at midnight you wake up at 8am – reasonable, right? If you wake up at 6:00am, you go to bed at 10:00pm. Still reasonable? Right.
Bring a partner on your journey. Maybe you don’t have a romantic partner that you sleep next to. That’s fine. Find someone who wants to join you on your early-morning quest. Perhaps you make it a daily ritual to text each other at a certain time each morning. If you aren’t getting a text back, they snoozing.
Drink coffee! Oh my god, what a terrible piece of advice. Don’t get hooked if you aren’t already. But, in all actuality, if you already drink coffee, maybe you get into the habit of making it right after you wake up. It becomes your reward for getting out of bed! Truly, it’s what motivates me most mornings. Plus, then you drink your coffee first and brush your teeth right after. That, my friends, is how you prevent coffee stains on your teeth. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, fine, I respect you. Maybe you have a hot cup of tea instead.
Once you have your hot beverage, sit and enjoy it! The great part of giving yourself time in the morning is just that – having time. Don’t rush right after you greet the day. Take it slow. Sip your coffee. Text a silly GIF to your morning-buddy. Hug your loved one close. These are your hours of bliss. Enjoy them.
Use your mornings intentionally. If you are getting up earlier than normal, then do it for a reason. Use your mornings as an opportunity to get some extra work done on your hobbies, or perhaps you use it as an opportunity to tidy your house. Maybe you use the time to sit and meditate, or exercise, or indulge in an other act of self-care. If you have something scheduled for your morning that you don’t want to skip in your day, then sleeping through it will become harder.
Set an intention for your day. Yes, this is the yoga teacher in me, but it actually makes a difference in how you show up each day. Don’t just let the world take the reigns. Take a moment to think through who you want to show up as that day. Just imagine it. Then, just live.