My Pre-Trip Insomnia

“The night is the hardest time to be alive and 4am knows all my secrets.” - Poppy Z. Brite

2 min. read

I’m flying to Seattle in a couple hours to speak at a conference for teen citizen lobbyists. Social justice advocate teen citizen lobbyists… pretty amazing, right?

As usual, I’m wide awake with no real hope of that changing. It’s been a few years now, and I haven’t outgrown this pre-trip insomnia. I really thought I would.

I’ve written before about how un-natural of a public speaker I am. When I started doing stand-up comedy, I would blackout from nervousness. While it sounds extreme, I’m not sure I would have ever kept going if I was cognizant of how terrible I was. Throughout the years, I’ve developed different pre-show practices that helped me cope with the anxiety. Until recently, I had to spend 5 – 10 minutes using the Kuji-In, or Kanji Mudra, hand meditation before hopping on stage, or there were no guarantees my head wouldn’t pop. Now I’m able to forego any pre-show rituals (though it’s not ideal) and I can actually pretend to not be super nervous and have a conversation with a human up until I take the stage. Unfortunately, I’ve developed this not so shiny pre-trip insomnia ritual.

The bigger the event, or the more meaningful it is to me, the more intense the insomnia. Before I keynoted the National Sex Ed Conference last month, I didn’t sleep for 3 nights in a row. I was up for 79 hours straight, spoke for one hour, socialized for four after, then slept hard enough that a gunshot wouldn’t’ve woken me up. And I don’t mean a gun randomly going off near me, I mean someone shooting me in the thigh.

Maybe in a year or two, or a few hundred more trips, I’ll shake this thing and be able to sleep the night before I hit the road. It’d be nice, but then when would I find time to rewatch seasons of Futurama?