It’s been many years since I’ve truly embraced my night owl. I know I’m more creative, more accepting in the evening and it’s where my light shines brightest. But, it’s been really hard to re-embrace this side of myself because I’ve honed the entirely opposite habit of early rising for a long time.
I fell into the habit of early mornings once I started a production job as a graphic specialist. I was asked to be at work by 7 since most people in the department were in by then, at the latest. It kinda snuck up on me, the fact that I didn’t necessarily mind being up by 6, then 5, and then 4 in the morning.
When I no longer needed to do those early mornings I found myself stuck, up at 4 or 5 am, could not sleep in. Even if I stayed up later, I still woke up early... If I made it to 6 that was a miracle. I also tend to stick to habits like they are life lines and panic if I consider changing them. Change doesn’t come easy for me. I hate even the small change of ordering more of the same skincare product or whatever it is.
Here I am, trying to rekindle my night owl. And with it, continuing to reignite my creativity. I have suspicions that when I didn’t honor my night owl (and my introvert) that I inadvertently started stifling and then killing my creativity. Sure, I love the occasional early morning but I’m not ready to do much with them for at least 2 plus hours after waking. Forcing myself so completely into mornings went counter to my needs.
Nights are where I accept myself, encourage myself to create while forgetting, at least for a little while, the little critic that sits in my head. It’s the only time that I’ve been really, actually writing. And it’s been great...and not so great. I’ve been so stuck in routine and habit that going to bed by or before 9 is 'normal'. I love crawling in bed alongside my husband, though, embracing my night owl has made that impossible to do on any night I wish to stay up to write, or whatever my heart desires. Change is hard, and, if you are someone like me, it’s really hard to take it all happily in stride. Even when you are the one who wants that change.
I feel like a contradiction when this happens. I know I want the change, I know I need the change, but it’s still a change and that terrifies me. I rage against the change I actually want. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so worried about change. I’m sure there are a million reasons, a lot of which probably relates to childhood or formative years somehow, but at the end of the day what matters more is moving forward and giving yourself a whole lot of grace.
We all have our idiosyncrasies. We all have something that will try to knock us off our game. The best thing I’ve found is to accept that it’s there and plan for it. Ignoring something only makes it stronger because it can do anything and you’ll always feel surprised. At least, if you plan for it, you won’t get ambushed.
So it may be only 9:30 (later now) as I am writing and revising this post...but I’m still up and writing and that’s what matters. There is something so magical about staying up late, maybe it’s carry over from being a kid when staying up late was not often encouraged. The times you got to stay up, like actually stay up...man those were special nights! At least they were for me. I also had a mom whose eventual rule was that I must stay in my room after bedtime, what I did or did not do in my room after that was mine to decide. She must have understood that there was no making me sleep if I didn’t want to.
Here’s to embracing all sides of ourselves and the change(s) that may entail. Here’s to all the night owls out there, trying to make things work in a world that tends to encourage early rising. Not everyone can do mornings and that’s OK. And some of us (me!) need to recover/detox from our circumstance/self imposed early mornings.
—A Recovering Design Imposter