How weird habits keep you grounded

 

In today’s “Thursday Thoughts,” let’s discuss habits.

Do we all have weird habits? …..Just me?

Let me give you a bit of background:

Back when I was in college, I shared a 2-bedroom apartment with a few friends. We all attended the same university (Messiah College), and the apartment building was located on campus. There were 5 of us in the apartment. It was such a tiny apartment and we crammed 5 women into it. I don’t know how we all shared one bathroom and a teeny kitchen. :)

My roommates and I were all from different backgrounds and majors. One girl was an elementary education major, another girl was super outdoorsey, another was on the hockey team, while another one on the volleyball team.

And then there was me.

As a biology major, I was into the sciences. I took a lot of Bio and Chem courses, which meant that I had labs almost every day for hours on end. I had big goals to attend medical school and become a surgeon (spoiler: neither ended up happening lol I became a psychologist), so I was constantly studying. I’ve never been a night owl, not even during my college years. Most days, I had all my homework done before dinnertime, which gave me time in the evenings to hang out with my boyfriend Joel (who is now husband). My bedtime was normally around 10pm…which is super early for college! Most of my friends were staying up until at least 2am, or even not sleeping at all! I’ve always been an early bird, and I liked running first thing in the morning before class.

One of my roommates, Emilia (not her real name :) ) was an English major who did 99% of her homework and socializing AFTER 1am. She was a night-owl through and through! She works a full time day-job now so she’s probably not pulling those hours anymore, but back then she regularly did the all-nighter thing. It was no big deal for her to go 24-36 hours without sleeping. Emilia would sometimes catch up on sleep by taking an hour nap here and there at random times of the day. I don’t know how she did it — I feel foggy if I get less than 7 hrs of sleep <– probably one of the reasons why the surgeon thing didn’t materialize for me! :)

Even though Emilia and I had very different sleeping patterns and routines, we got along really well! We could talk for hours! She is absolutely hilarious and can make me cry-laugh like no other.

So this is how my weird habit started:

Often, I would be winding down for the day, and getting into bed juuust as Emilia was cracking those knuckles in preparation to write a big paper or chat on AOL messenger (…anyone remember that? lol!). Like many college students Emilia was famous for her professional-level procrastinating. It was not unusual for her to crank out an A-grade 3000 word paper in one night because it was due the next day. Talk about performing on a deadline!

Since she was usually madly typing when I was going to sleep, we often joked about how the sound typing was my bedtime lullaby. It was funny…but also not…because she was the proud owner of the clickiest, clunkiest keyboard (think jackhammer).

As a light sleeper, I was often kept awake by the hammering of Emilia’s keyboard. It was months before one of our other roommates suggested that I try earplugs. I had some unopened earplugs from an airline lying around, and when I stuck them in my ears that night… holy moly.

It made the HUGEST difference!

While the earplugs didn’t completely eliminate the noise, they dampened it down enough that I could drift off to sleep. And importantly, i was able to stay asleep all night. Let me tell you, I did not go another night without earplugs! I bought a new pack the very next day.

Fast forward to when my roommates and I graduated from college. We each went our separate ways to start sparkly new jobs and post-college lives.

I moved to New York City to start a Health PR job in Times Square. I went from a tiny town that only had one traffic light to one of the busiest cities on the globe. To say it took some getting used to is an understatement!

In hindsight, I’d say that it was probably during this time that my earplug habit really solidified.

You see, the earplugs were so much more than tools to drown out sounds of the city every night. Yes, they helped this light-sleeper to get some rest, but it was more than that.

This was a habit that “came with me” from my quiet college life to the hustle of the city. The earplugs represented a comforting vestige from those simpler college days.

If you’ve read my post on relocating, you’ll know that moving (at least for me) can be super stressful. Something I’ve realized is that it helps to have some “constants” during those times of change. Things that keep you grounded amidst a shifting landscape. Things that help to reduce the discomfort of upheaval. Things that stay “true” even as the world around you is changing.

So in a strange way, the earplugs became a “constant” in my move to New York. My new life was such a major change — for the first time ever, I was living alone and fending for myself. Nothing about my world was familiar. That is, except for those little earplugs.

In the years since, I have managed to curate a broader collection of habits and constants. In addition to earplugs (which I still wear!), running has become a firm constant in my life. No matter what changes occur, I will still be a runner. And people are my constants too, like my husband and my lifelong friends.

In any case, I know the earplug thing is a really random habit. I’ve been told by many a mom, that when kids come along earplugs will be a thing of the past. After all, I’d want to hear the baby monitor at night. But until then, I’m happily continuing on with this weird habit! :)

Got any weird habits of your own? What are your “constants” in life? 

44 thoughts on “How weird habits keep you grounded

  1. I’m right there with you, I loved having all of my homework done before dinner and would rarely be doing work after 6 pm (unless I had a night class in which case I would be forced to be doing work by taking notes). I think that habit came with my from high school since I would go from school to practice to home and have a 3.5 hour window to do all of my work before it was time to shower and go to bed. That would be easy but I was always in honors and AP courses so I constantly had things to work on or study for. To this day, I’m not someone who does a ton of work after 6, I like getting it done and be able to relax at night.

  2. I’m also a biology major, and I too like to get my homework done early! I have my share of weird habits, but the strangest is probably talking to myself as I work. If I’m writing a lab report and something looks off, I’ll catch myself saying “no, that can’t be right” out loud, even though I’m by myself.

    1. Good job getting your homework done early! Keep it up! One of my roommates did the same thing as you, she would talk to herself all the time ☺

    1. The increments of 5 thing is interesting! :) I do something similar too… when my alarm goes off, I always give myself until the next quarter hour to get out of bed haha :)

  3. I can definitely understand how earplugs became a habit! I can’t think of any right now. I should probably ask my husband if I have weird habits. Fun post!

  4. Hi Marten! It was a career that I thought I wanted, but then ended up falling in love with psychology instead! :)

  5. I tried earplugs, but it had the adverse effect- I tried to figure out what those muffled sounds were, since I was in grad. school with 3 lively kids around:)
    Hey, don’t put yourself down because you’re a psychologist. I’m one and I can stand up to any medical doctor (proof: my brother is an MD and when I was living close, he used to ask me for advise regularly!). Are you practicing now?

    1. Lol I guess earplugs might work in the opposite way :) Nice to connect with a fellow psychologist here! You and your brother sound like very accomplished siblings! :)

      1. There’s four years difference, me being his older sis. But we are so much alike that in our younger years, over the phone people couldn’t distinguish between his and my voice.

  6. I never thought eat plugs could be so interesting haha! I pick a scab on my head for stress and when I’m tired I think we all have weird habits some people are just to shy to admit them haha Morgan

      1. but things I do are very very stupid :)
        Like bringing a group to the national park and pretend we got lost.. than what they do

  7. My husband has gotten me in the habit of sleeping with a fan on for white noise. Prior to marriage, I could fall asleep in a silent room. Now, silence is so “loud” and I much prefer the whir of fan. Another constant is a hot espresso drink in the morning. I switched to decaf months ago so it’s not even like I need the caffeine. I just love the taste of coffee and it helps me ease into my day.

    1. I totally love having a fan on when I sleep too! Not during the winter…brr.. but in any other season, our fan is on! I hear you on the decaf too. I don’t drink coffee every day but if I want something hot in the evening, I opt for decaf :)

  8. I have relocated a few times and I have relied on my family as my constant. My siblings have now scattered across the country (Canada), but I still talk to them all regularly. My husband and kids make wherever we are feel like home.

  9. Your description of Emilia might as well have been a description of me lol. I was known as the one who could stay up for 24-48 hours with only a couple of naps in between because I had long essays to write the night before the were. I got good marks on them and liked the pressure of it all so I never changed my method, even though I envied the people who could get their work done in advance and sleep long hours.

    1. That sounds similar what Emilia said too — since she always got good grades on papers she hammered out the night prior, her “night-owl” and procrastination habits only got more reinforced lol

  10. Waittttt how do I know if it’s weird as I think my habits are all cool?!! Hehehe ;) I think we all have one or two strange things we do.. it’s what makes us unique. Have a great weekend ahead, Dawn!

  11. Great Post! My number 1 constant: COFFEE! SO super important in my life. Not only for my sanity but for my families safety (totally joking!) Also, when I was in college, my life depended on using a planner. I still use one to this day for keeping track of bills and any appointments for my son.

    1. I like your constants! My husband drinks coffee every morning, and I used a planner from junior high through grad school! it helped to keep me organized! 😀

  12. I can’t think of any crazy weird habits. I definitely need a fan to sleep and was always all about getting my homework and projects done early. I too was a biology/chem major so maybe we’re just strange students! LOL.

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