Perpetually Prioritizing Other People

Shani Silver
7 min readNov 15, 2022

And why I stopped.

Photo by the author.

I’m an early riser. This is not a casual statement like one you might exchange with a new friend while re-applying gloss in a restaurant bathroom. My eyes open at 5am without an alarm, that my friend is rising early. The only way I can sleep in is if I fly to a time zone in the future.

My natural proclivity for waking before the sun itself used to carry quite a bit of shame for me. Imagine perpetually being the child at sleepovers who woke up two full hours before the rest of the squad, thus relegated to lying still in a sleeping bag bored to weeps. There was always the option to join the parents of the house for their morning coffee, but that always felt a bit awkward.

The most frustrating part of naturally waking up early wasn’t actually the practical aspects of it, because my god the sunrises I’ve been lucky enough to see, but rather the popular opinion of it. I’ve always been, how do you say it…lame as fuck? Common sentiment is that sleeping in until half the day is wasted is “cool,” while popping out of bed before 7am to greet the day and…you know, accomplish things, is the very height of nerdery.

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but this shit stays with you. It becomes part of the fabric of your self-knowledge, and certainly your self-worth. If someone tells you that something natural about you is uncool, weird, or bad, you’re likely to believe it’s true especially if it’s been happening since you were a kid. Further, you’re likely to move through life with an understanding that there’s something about you that you need to apologize for.

As long as it involved ordering pizza with girlfriends falling asleep before Empire Records was over (oh, did I not mention my body knocks itself unconscious pretty goddamned early, too?) this was all very charming and relatively painless — if you don’t count childhood bullying and we can count that another time. Where being an early riser really started to become a (perceived) problem was when the sleepovers were more of the adult variety.

Scenario: There’s a dude, in my house, that not eight hours ago I had some sort of unmemorable sex with, and the self beliefs inside of my brain that I’d learned so long ago are screaming at me (silently in my head, of course) to not make…

Shani Silver

Author, podcaster. shanisilver@gmail