Being the Early Bird

Alia McMurray

I have always been a morning person.  To be honest, I’m not quite sure why or how I turned out that way.  As a child, my parents used to have to set an alarm for me, not to wake me up, but to let me know that I couldn’t wake them up until after it went off.  I was always the first one to wake up at a sleepover, waiting silently in my sleeping bag for everyone else to slowly get themselves up (extremely loud snorer who denies everything, I know who you are).  
Everyone assumed that I would just grow out of it and assured me that as teenager I would surely need the extra sleep.  My sister and my friends were able to sleep until the late afternoon if nobody roused them. As it turned out, I was physically incapable of such a feat of hibernation.  What, I asked myself, was wrong with me?
Now here we are, almost 10 years later, and I still get up every morning at 6 a.m.  Except now, I have grown to love the part of myself that insists on rising with the sun.  I feel the most productive in the mornings and have carved them out as a sacred space to relax and feel present.  For me, the benefits of waking up early are invaluable. It helps me discipline my schedule and organize my thoughts before the day begins.  I can avoid that rushed “it’s crunchtime” feeling that college students know all too well, which in turn allows me to experience more gratitude and appreciation for the little moments of joy throughout my day.
Most mornings I roll right out of bed go to the gym, and enjoy the fact that it’s almost empty, with nobody in there grunting loudly or hogging equipment.  On my way back, I stand outside on our porch and I watch the sun rise. It’s one of those spectacles that will never get old for me. I feel my breath catch in my chest every time.  Each morning it looks brand new, with different colors and cloud formations and diffusions of light. Sometimes it’s pink and blue like those cotton candy popsicles, other times its a deep velvety purple and the moon hangs on until the very last second to wink out of sight.  It feels like a secret, to be awake when almost everyone else on campus is sound asleep, like I found a pocket of time that belongs exclusively to me and the earth.
Eventually I go inside, and pad to the kitchen in my fuzzy socks to make a hot cup of coffee or tea that I can sip on while making a warm comforting breakfast. Usually I’ll listen to a good podcast or read while I eat.  Then I shower, stretch, get dressed, and pack my backpack to leave for class. It’s 8:15 a.m. I am ready for the day.