I hate being late — to anything, really, but for now, I’m talking about class in particular. I hate seeing heads turn towards me as I sheepishly tip-toe into the room, as if my steps would even be heard on the carpeted floors of Stanford’s classrooms anyways. Yes, I know that not all of the heads turn. And I know that the heads that do turn aren’t really seeing me, they’re just seeing who’s there, or casually glancing out of the reflex that accompanies hearing a door open and close. Still, the heads definitely turn to look at me when I have to awkwardly step over legs, backpacks and pull-out desks in an attempt to get to an empty seat when all of the aisle seats have been taken. The thought of it makes my skin crawl like nails on a chalkboard. My fingers are tensing up even as I type this out.
You would think that all of this means that I take special care to make sure that I’m never late to class. You’d be wrong. While the number of minutes by which I’m running late varies, I constantly find myself cringing internally as I take the walk of shame into different classrooms every morning.
Let me emphasize the word “morning” here because, to be clear, this is exclusively a morning problem. I tend to arrive at my afternoon classes perfectly on time, which naturally means that the root of my problem lies in waking up.
Back in high school, I used to blame my excessive tardiness on the horrible Atlanta morning traffic. I convinced myself that I wasn’t the problem, but rather the hundreds of other people who just happened to be on the same route as me. Those darn strangers. But now, aside from the occasional slow-walking pedestrian or biker who can’t bike, there’s little else to be found on my way to class to take the brunt of the blame. Even going up against a dangerously crowded Circle of Death shouldn’t add more than a few seconds to my commute. So, from this, it would stand to reason that I’m my own worst enemy.
My alarm goes off in five-minute intervals 20 minutes before I actually need to get up, but, routinely, after jolting myself awake, I slip calmly back into a power-nap until the next dream-shattering blare. I’ve tried setting an earlier alarm, but it does nothing but leave me with even less uninterrupted sleep. I’ve tried showering at night instead of in the morning, but that just gives me more incentive to push the boundaries of how long I can stay in bed. Sometimes, I’ll even wake up at a reasonable time with a very comfortable buffer before I have to leave for class. However, it seems that comfort makes me a little too comfortable, because I’ll still find myself frantically fumbling to put on my shoes and grab my keys when the time on my microwave reads three minutes before class.
So what’s the solution? I guess the only option left is to go to bed earlier. It’s the only thing that I can’t renege when morning comes. I won’t negotiate with myself to get extra sleep if I don’t need the extra sleep. And if I can get into a routine of not needing extra sleep, those mornings in which I find myself with extra time won’t be such a rarity, and maybe I’ll make better use of them. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just have to learn to accept my head-turning entrances. At the end of the day, or perhaps the end of the night, when I’m choosing to watch Netflix instead of going to bed, I have no one to blame but myself.
Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.