Living without Uhtceare

You know that moment? The one where you wake up and glance over at your phone bleary-eyed.

5:32am.

Early. And yet, morning. You don’t get up. You’re exhausted. A good night’s sleep hasn’t yet had the chance to rejuvenate your body and refresh your mind. But you don’t fall back asleep either. You’re supposed to be up in an hour. Your to-do list is longer than a Kanye speech. And you’ve most likely underestimated the time devoted to each task. Your yesterday self had been in vehement opposition to the old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day. You glance again at the phone.

5:36am.

This time you notice the 32 new likes on your instagram photo. The part of you that can’t help but embrace cogito ergo sum‘s new translation – I’m liked therefore I am – is satiated. You catch the first few lines of an email you’ll have to deal with after sunrise. It reminds you of tangential tasks. Anxiety builds. The bed is suddenly on fire. You close your eyes.

The sum of everything you haven’t done builds behind your eyelids. They snap open.

5:52am.

A calendar reminder pops up. Meetings. That’s three less hours you have to do everything.

Have you done laundry? Do you have groceries? You missed the gym yesterday. You’ll miss it again today. You’re going to be a lumpy potato. You roll over.

6:14am.

Your colleague hasn’t responded to an email. Was the wording too terse? Too unclear? Should you follow up? Should you make an appointment at the optometrist? Is your sister drinking enough water on the other side of the world? Has your dad gone for a walk? What’s the expiration date on the yogurt in the fridge? Does the new project at work need ethics approval? When’s the deadline?

6:27am.

Sleepiness graces your lids once more. You drift off.

6:30am. Alarm.

You did this to yourself.

But here’s the good news. There’s a word for this whole phenomenon.

Uhtceare
Noun
ūhtcearu f ‎(nominative plural ūhtceare or ūhtceara)

pre-dawn anxiety

They say to know thine enemy right?

Now you do.

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