Happily Not a Morning Person

When I come home from college, these days my parents stay up later than I do. They’re in bed and they’re reading quietly, but they could easily be awake past midnight on a weekend. These are 60-year-olds with full-time jobs and three adult children. I am a 20-year-old college student, and I could be asleep at nine. That is the rhythm I grew up with: late to bed and late to rise. My whole family was night owls by both nature and nurture. When we went on vacation as a family, we never went for sunrise hikes or woke up to Dad making pancakes. Instead, we all stumbled out of our rooms when the smell of coffee wafted under the door; easy mornings with several mugfuls per person.


My mom always felt bad about instilling these preferences in us, that her children refused outright to ever take an 8:10 class. She bought into this idea that being an early riser meant you were a go-getter and that she had led us to a life of missed opportunities. This, obviously, is absurd. Some people don’t want to live in a city and some people will not tolerate the climate of Toronto. Everyone has preferences, so why can’t mine be that I prefer to not have a life outside of my bed until 10 am?

The psychic toll waking up a seven in the morning has on me is so extreme that I would do most things to avoid it. This would not include choosing to be unemployed because I do try to operate within the realm of reason, but it does mean universally missing breakfast. Like those country loving people who live in the city because that’s the only place they can work, my preferences operate on a sliding scale. What frustrates me about this particular issue is that my preference apparently dooms to me a lesser life. It’s the judgement on my person that I resent.


I think the quiet at midnight has just as much appeal as early morning fog and I think as long as you’re getting eight hours of sleep during a time of darkness, you’re being healthy. Lingering in the softness of sleep and only raising your head from the pillow when you smell the bitter and sweet smell of the coffee pot is a pleasant way to live your life. Just as much happens from six to nine in the morning as it does at night. Maybe it is some strange residual aspect of the Puritan work ethic, but I find that being an early bird is met with admiring and envious glances while being a night owl is cause for disapproval.

The larger point is clearly to just let people live their own lives and try not to perpetuate systems of power and judgment. It is easy to dismiss smaller issues, like whether you like waking up early or not, as inconsequential. What people tend to forget is that small judgments can accumulate into big ones, and anytime we find a reason to view someone as lesser we need to think very carefully about why we are doing that.


In the simplest terms, I like the way I live my life. I like waking up slowly and I like staying in pajamas until lunchtime. I like having three meals a day: lunch, dinner, and second dinner at midnight. I like a slow pace and I like waking up at seven in the morning knowing I don’t have to be conscious for another couple of hours. Granted, I am a college student who is fortunate in the way I am able to construct my schedule to suit my preferences and a night owl who is very cranky and unreasonable in the morning.


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