Why is it so much harder to wake up when you’re waking up alone? Why do I feel more awake having slept 3 hours at a sleep over as compared to sleeping 8 hours in my own bed waking up to a quiet house? Without concrete scientific evidence to back up the following post, I’m going to go ahead and say it’s because we’re meant to be Social Creatures.
This is a thought I have on a pretty regular basis, especially when I compare my lifestyle in Hong Kong to that of Pomona. I don’t get much sleep in Hong Kong, in between waking up to the juicer in my house, to the whispers and conversations between my parents, and the sunlight beaming through the windows- but yet, I find myself- most of the time, wide awake ready for breakfast and the day.
When I lived in Phnom Penh close to 7 years ago (I can’t believe it’s been so long!), I lived in a home with 4 other colleagues. The weather was hot, and some days we rarely got any rest, but as soon as 7am hit every day, we were up and about- making breakfast, and making jokes to one another.
College life, dorm life, is the most extreme. Some days we pulled all nighters to do homework or stay for an exam. Till this day, I wonder how I pulled off an all nighter of studying- it simply doesn’t seem like something I’d be willing to stay awake for- and yet, knowing that 5 other people in the dorm room were just as delirious as I was, jamming to music and going through the experience together- made it an extremely memorable moment that I’d never take back.
Now in Pomona, or in the Southern California life, I have a beautiful room, surrounded by gorgeous mountains and sunshine most days of the year- and yet, I wake up struggling to pull myself out of bed. I sometimes struggle to walk down the stairs to make a cup of coffee for myself. The thought of making breakfast, preparing lunch, and getting in my car to drive to work- is less exciting and motivating than the thought of being cramped on a train with grumpy strangers (Hong Kong).
A combination of car culture, the individualistic culture, and the need for “personal space” has created so much space in between us here in the US, creating more feelings of loneliness than many collectivist cultures. Yes, some can argue that we create our own social circles. We can drive to meet friends, and we can plan get togethers with friends and that’s true- but I would argue that that’s an underlying difference between planning a get together, and simply being together.
With that said, I can begin to understand why my parents moved back to Hong Kong from Toronto, aside from the dislike of the extreme cold, they must’ve felt lonely, they craved for those unplanned social interactions that make us all a little more kind, a little more understanding, a little more empathetic, and a little more human.
In pondering how these thoughts translate over to my life and my values, I can say that it’s part of why I am so keen on hostels (as compared to hotels), on travelers living together in close proximity and creating that sense of community. So the next time someone asks me why Im so interested in hostels- it is because hostels are a space for all of us to bring out the social creatures in us.