August 15th is here, the midpoint of the last month of summer, and yes, I know summer officially ends on September 22nd. But who doesn’t really think of summer as June, July and August? Here in New York we’re in the middle of a heat wave. Between the heat and humidity, our electric company is repeatedly emailing and texting to remind us to keep a lid on our electric use, especially during peak hours. At the same time my email is full of back-to-school promotions. I know schools in other parts of the country have gone back to classes already or are getting ready to do so. In my area, we still have a few weeks, but those days will pass in the blink of an eye.
Summer camps are winding down, summer vacations are becoming memories and once again we’re dreading the thought of fall and the increased obligations that come with it. Of course, when the fall arrives there’s plenty of wonderful things to enjoy about it, but for some people, facing the transition between the seasons can be emotionally tough.
You’d think I’d get better at orchestrating the end of summer requirements, but I never seem to. All my kids have to go for physicals, dental checkups, vision checkups. Invariably the appointments I was so proud to have made ahead of time ended up requiring rescheduling. I feel so badly for the receptionists at medical offices having to deal with crazy people like me desperately trying to get an appointment before school starts. My email boxes get inundated with so much back to school junk mail that I have to be sure to catch the ones from the actual schools my kids attend! Even though the schools also send emails that aren’t always important, some of them are critically important and those are always the ones I’m searching for in the ‘old mail’ folder.
Some people go into denial
Are you one of these people? You know, the ones who just won’t accept the end of summer. You keep wearing shorts and flip flops even when you’re shivering. You convince yourself that you can still keep your summer bed-time hours even though the alarm clock is going to go off before the sun comes up. You simply refuse to accept that summer is over.
If you’re a student, you refuse to believe that all the summer reading and the math packet assignments you were supposed to do can’t be accomplished in one day. If you’re the parent or responsible party for a student, you can’t believe you already have to be nagging about schoolwork. If you work for many types of companies, you can’t accept that more relaxed summer dress codes are over.
Regret and anxiety about what you meant to do, but didn’t
When you move past denial, you may start to think about the great goals you had at the start of the summer. What fun activities did you intend to accomplish but didn’t get to? Were you going to improve your physical fitness but never quite managed to swim those laps or jog those miles? Maybe you had every intention to read a book, learn a new skill, or volunteer somewhere. It could be that you planned to reconnect with some friends or family members now that pandemic restrictions have changed – but for whatever reason you never made it happen. It’s too late to learn a foreign language over the summer break. You’re also not going to learn a new sport at this point. If you really try, maybe you could arrange to go bungee jumping, do a ropes course, or try a new cuisine. But at this point odds are the closest you’ll get to accomplishing any of that this summer will be if you managed to watch any of the Olympic coverage. That’s assuming you even realized the 2020 Olympics was this summer … ? Yes, I know it’s 2021, but they had the 2020 Olympics starting towards the end of July 2021 because of the pandemic.
When it dawns on you that you haven’t fulfilled your goals to take full advantage of your summer break, you may start to panic. Most of us tend to be very critical of ourselves. Realizing that you had so many plans before summer started and yet somehow you managed to do little or none of it – well, it could leave you feeling stressed. That anxiety could even become full panic.
Acceptance and moving on
Even if it takes a little time, you finally have to accept that summer and summer break is over. You can’t argue with the calendar. I guess you can actually argue with the calendar, but you’re going to look ridiculous and nothing is going to change.
Instead of being recharged and ready to face the new season, many people now find themselves feeling they are in need of a vacation more than they were at the beginning of the summer. If that’s your situation, try to allocate a few days to get a little rest. Try making a few lists to help you get a handle on things and establish a better sense of control. Think about the wonderful things that await on the other side of summer.
Take a few minutes to share with me something you’re looking forward to when summer ends. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and then check out next week’s newsletter and social media to find out if you’re a winner in that contest.