I feel like people use the word “balance” a lot to talk about living a good life. Being a “well-balanced” person. Having a balanced schedule, eating a balanced diet, balancing academics with extracurriculars and a social life– in short, the kind of balance I would not use to describe my first semester at Oberlin.
I’ve spent most of my life thinking of mornings as the enemy. My mother is a morning person to a fault, but her enthusiasm for rising before the sun never quite got to me. My attendance record was atrocious in high school, but only for my first class of the day; I stuck with the principles of “better late than never” and “there’s always tomorrow” until I graduated, and it still spilled over a little bit into my first semester of college.
First semester, I tried to convince myself that sleeping was just like dieting– you tell yourself that you don’t need something, and it becomes true. Surprisingly enough, that does not apply to the natural human process of sleep as much as it does with added sugars. I justified this by saying that I was busy (27 credits!), and sleep just did not take the cake on my list of priorities when I had to practice and do homework. I would go to bed between the hours of midnight and three in the morning, and wake up just in time to bolt to my first class, which started at 9:30am, 10:00am, or 11:00am, depending on the day.
Flash forward to November and I started considering my course schedule for second semester, as people often do before course registration. I found an English class called The Poet’s Bible, and was completely starstruck after reading the description– I knew I had to take this course. I kept looking through the catalog to find courses that could be alternatives if the single section of The Poet’s Bible filled up before my registration slot opened, but the more I looked at other classes, the stronger I felt about taking The Poet’s Bible. In my head and from the not even 75-word description, the class was perfect. The only problem was, it met at 9:00am.
No, I was not balanced first semester. I did not have a great track record for my 9:30am class that met twice a week, and I often substituted coffee for real meals, but I decided to overlook the semi-unfortunate past to embrace the wonderful opportunity that took the form of this English class.
My mother was concerned that a class this early in the morning was a bad idea, and thought I should figure out an alternative that meets later in the day before going to the class and getting my hopes up about taking it. My own mother didn’t believe in me, but truly, I probably wouldn’t have either. I went into college so excited that I would never have to wake up as early as I did in high school, because I got to pick my own schedule, so by all accounts my taking this class was not a good idea.
However, I am not a fan of quitting any more than I thought I was not a fan of mornings, so I made the resolution that I would become a morning person in order to make my dream schedule happen. I could have very easily said “Yeah, that sounds like a cool class, but I am unwilling to wake up early enough to go,” but I didn’t, and I am still a bit surprised at that decision. I tried to change one of the fundamental bases of how I live my life for this English class I so desperately wanted to take, and I’m really doing it.
I’ve wanted to take this class for months, and now I’m getting a sufficient amount of sleep so I can focus at 9:00am three days a week. Since the semester started, I’ve started waking up around 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning to drink my coffee and catch up on my podcasts before going to my morning classes. There are statistics out there about the correlation between productivity and early rising, and although I am horribly unprepared to cite specific numbers, I feel like I have so much more time to do things. Becoming a morning person has helped me manage my time better, and now it’s easier to focus on whatever work I have to do when it truly feels like there are more hours in the day. That, or perhaps it’s just early in the semester and I’m overly optimistic. Regardless, I’m going to try and keep this feeling going for as long as possible.
I never would have thought that I’d like being a morning person; I was set on living the rest of my life without ever seeing the sun rise, unless it was from pulling an all-nighter. I can probably count the number of sunrises I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying on one hand, because the car rides to high school where the mean Midwest winter sky goes from dark grey to light grey don’t actually count.
I like getting up early– at least this semester I do. This is why I came here: to take classes that fascinate me. Classes where the phrase “creatio ex nihilo” comes up in both my European Music in the 19th Century class and The Poet’s Bible. Everything is a circle, and I’m lucky to be reminded of that every day.
So I guess this is what being balanced feels like– with, of course, the exception of having a well-balanced diet; my grandma still reminds me on a regular basis that coffee does not count as a meal, but I digress.