For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a night owl. Maybe it started as a baby or maybe it stems from my dad waking me up so we could watch football (or wrestling or hockey) after my mother was fast asleep. No matter it’s origination, my staying up late has been a source of relaxation. And what others deemed as “irresponsible.”
Sleeping in wasn’t a regular thing in my household. If you made it to 9:00 A.M. you were way out of line. It didn’t matter what time you went to sleep. The thing is staying up after the world went to sleep was such an awesome thing. The creative juices would flow and I was free to explore painting, writing, reading, thinking… or whatever! Since the other hours of my was heavily controlled and monitored – the nighttime provided freedom.
Once upon a time, I use to be funny. Like really funny. Goofy even. I could careless who was watching or judging. My friends and I were having fun, if they didn’t want to join in – that was on them. Occasionally, I had a friend that would put me down in front of strangers to make herself seem cooler and more mature. Our funny business made her feel vulnerable when others would look our way…. putting me down publicly made her feel better.
Normally sleepovers have the added benefits of smearing toothpaste on our sleeping friends faces or putting their hands in warm water as a prank. Even in my joking days, I didn’t participate in that. I wasn’t into humiliating people – especially my friends. I was more into humiliating myself by acting weird and doing random things that caused people to look twice. Even if it meant wearing enormous glasses and walking through a store straight-faced.
Even in my teen years, I never really got into serious trouble but my high energy, free-spirited self earned me the label “bad influence” among a few parents. Sure I’ll claim responsibility for breaking a couch leg because my friend and I were horse-playing but I was never there when my “friend” fessed up to what happened… so who knows how that story was translated. (What’s really interesting is the kind of trouble these friends had gotten into long after we were friends. And I’m the bad influence.)
Every once in a great while, I’ll run into one of these parents and when they first greet me there’s a look in their eye and a tone in their voice… like they don’t approve of me. They remember me and what an awful kid I was… but they always ask, what have you been up to? Like they expect me to say drugs or something. When I give them a brief summary (married. together 14 years. 2 young kids. 2 dogs. my own business. blah. blah.), there is a surprise that comes over their face – as if the “drugs” answer would’ve been preferred.
Anyway, so what’s the point?
I’m still a night owl but I don’t enjoy it like I use to. I get things done. I scold myself for staying awake. I scold myself for not getting more done. I leave my creativity for last and by then I’m so exhausted I just go to bed to dream about it.
I’m still funny but it’s more sarcastic humor. Which turns out is hilarious at family cookouts or parties where alcohol is involved. My quick comebacks are surprising and the verbal play is provoked and sought after. It’s fun.
I’m still energetic but I’m not as free-spirited as I use to be. I play soccer and run through the winter until pneumonia takes over. I like to engage my body whenever possible – especially if it’s sports related – but other adults just aren’t into it like that.
I’ve realized that I’ve developed an attention to detail and organization that most likely has grown from untrustworthy (see: lying) adults – usually the ones who had an opinion about me: that I was irresponsible. To some people, I don’t mention my night owl tendencies. I act serious and straight to the point. I expect people to treat me seriously. I don’t see humor in some of their jokes. No, making fun of me for sleeping until 9:00A.M. (because my kids allowed that to happen) doesn’t make me laugh. Calling me a scatterbrain because I have a lot of irons in the fire isn’t humorous either. This is serious business.
I’m aware that who I have become is my fault. It’s origination or the sideways humor so helpfully provided by unhelpful people should not play a factor. I let it get to this point. My determination to be taken seriously has made me forfeit my free-spirit. Being detailed and straightforward doesn’t mean everything is all business. Just like being funny and happy doesn’t make you suddenly unreliable.
In part of my effort to embrace and accept myself – these are things I need to take back. I thrive at being a creative night owl. It makes up who I am and I’m realizing it doesn’t make me irresponsible. Or careless.
I can be funny and put myself out there in a quasi-embarrassing way. In fact, I think my kids would think it’s hilarious. Until they’re, you know, teenagers. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
The soccer season starts in a week or so and I’m going to play my heart out. Because my body needs it and because I love the sport. I will only choose leagues that share that love – and refrain from playing with crybabies because a girl beat them to the post. Deal with it buddy.
I’m learning: Self acceptance is serious business. But it doesn’t have to be so serious all the time.
What are some ways you’ve changed and loved your true self?