I have always lived in fear of the graveyard shift.
Until tomorrow, when I start training for my new job, I confess that I have never worked the third shift. I have been on the swing shift/mid-shift in the last 10 years: 4:00 pm to 1:00 am (for 95% of the time), 1:00 to 10:00 pm, then 12:00 to 9:00 pm (only in the last six months). This was mostly due to me working with companies within the European sphere, then later on, in the Middle East.
In those 10 years, I have only tasted the graveyard shift twice (like, I was asked to report to work at midnight, then leave at 4:00 am): over Christmas Eve and New Years’ Eve in 2004. If I took away the festivities at my old workplace, I can say that I did not like it. I did not like having to stay up during a time I was supposed to be asleep, I did not like being away from the security of having my family around at the time of day that is supposed to be the most peaceful.
I have also experienced my younger brothers on the graveyard shift. I did not like having to miss them even when we are in the same house. I did not like worrying when they had to go out late at night. I felt a strain whenever we had to schedule something as a family.
Aside from the relational strains, I was worried over the effect of a long-time graveyard shift commitment. I have read about how it may take a toll on a person’s health (weight gain, stress), well-being (alertness, quality of sleep), and mood (increased irritability). The mid-shift is still manageable — it is still daytime when you start your day, and you still sleep at night — and it feels like living a weekend every day. I might have had my brushes with staying up until 6:00am because of roleplaying, but it is not something I’m willing to do on a daily basis, and under managerial pressure.
And yet here I am: facing a two-week training for my new job that requires me to go on the third shift. Here I am, after taking a two-hour nap, turning off my f.lux, listening to upbeat songs and podcasts, I am looking at rearranging my room until 5:00 am, in an attempt to kickstart my body into third shift mode. I have read about three health articles to mentally prepare me and to get tips about how to manage my eating habits and sleeping schedule.
As an encouragement, I look to my grandmother (a retired nurse who worked several years in the graveyard shift to put my her children through good schools), and my cousin (a graphic artist who does what she loves while enjoying the comforts of home); most of all, I look to God and wonder over His purpose in allowing me to do something well out of my comfort zone. I am also excited to learn more about myself — I am not expecting some kind of world-shattering revelation, but I just want to be able to rise to this personal challenge.
Today, I no longer live in fear of the graveyard shift. I see it as a necessity, a means to an end. I see at as a season of uncovering untapped potentials of my mind and my body, even if it means sitting down to pay attention to someone talk for most of the time.
Two weeks of graveyard shift: let’s do this!
PS. It’s almost 3:00 am as I post this, and I cannot guarantee the quality of my grammar at this point. Hoo boy~