Lessons from a Graveyard Shift

About two months ago I started working the graveyard shift at my job. I never thought I’d actually consider working a graveyard shift. My original plan was to return to school and start working toward my graduate degree. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Plus, my work environment was becoming too stressful. I love my job and I love the kids I work with, but sometimes the environment isn’t right so… here we are.

Anyway, I had all signed up for classes and was set to start at the University of Alaska Anchorage in mid-January. But then I realized, I was just using school to ignore the real issues going on in my life. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. I realized that I was attempting to distract myself with classes and busywork, and not actually work on growing as a person. I’ve found that the illusion of growth is often more pleasant than actually growing.

So I un-enrolled from my classes, but stayed on the graveyard shift. People ask me all the time, “WHY? That sounds awful.” And in some ways, it’s a pretty rough adjustment. I work from 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., so I’m awake when everyone else is asleep. It means a lot of alone time and room for deep thought. And as someone who has spent a lot of her life actively avoiding alone time and deep thinking, this has been quite the journey. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from my graveyard shift:

  • Going from a weekend of normal sleep schedule to a week of backwards sleep schedule is a frustrating and exciting endeavor. I go from WAY TOO MUCH sleep, to almost none. It’s been a fun little adventure, figuring out how to sleep during the day.
  • If I weren’t a natural night owl, this job would be impossible. I enjoy late nights and feel like I get a lot done in the evenings, so it kinda works out.
  • My days are actually really flexible. Not working from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. means that there’s lots of time for activities. It also means I end of sleeping at the oddest hours during the day.
  • There’s nothing quite as stressful as having 6 or 7 hours to let your anxiety-raddled mind marinate on a tense or awkward situation that happened the previous day. Or several years ago. But it’s cool, because I’m actually learning to work through my emotions and use self-talk instead of just distracting myself with shiny things or having people to tell me what I want to hear. They can’t while I’m on grave shift, they’re all asleep!
  • I thought I’d blog a lot more during my downtime, but that hasn’t happened much yet for some reason. This blog was originally going to be titled “An Awkward Question I Have for Parents: Why Did You Choose to Ruin Your Life?” but thought better of it.

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