There’s something in the air this summer. And I’m not just talking about the #pollenbomb. It seems like a lot of people in my circle are having a hard time. Much like the humidity, the world just seems to be a bit heavier this month. We’re just barely wading through it. And that sucks. But it’s also okay.
“But it’s July! How can you possibly be so down when the weather is so beautiful?” Well, because you’re human. And humans go through emotions in waves and cycles. There’s nothing odd about that whatsoever. What I do think may be at play is the high pressure we put on ourselves, and in turn our summers, to be everything that we want them to be: joyful, social and happy. Sun-soaked patios with sweating glasses of craft beer, surrounded by friends.
We residents of colder climates (hi, Canada!), spend so much of the year looking toward summer as our seasonal salvation. I’m guilty of all of the flawed thinking to follow: Oh, I’m just so much more myself when the sun is out. I can’t wait until I can be outside more! It’s nearly patio season! Summer clothes are so much more fun. I like to spend all winter hibernating, I’ll see my friends when it’s summer. That’s asking a season to do a lot of emotional heavy lifting! Poor summer. How can it ever live up to our expectations of what it’s going to do for us?
Here’s the other thing: all the other seasons have an out. Spring, autumn, and winter all have well-crafted narratives about why it’s okay to be depressed during their reign. Spring is rainy, dark, brooding. Winter gives the world permission to sleep, rest, and wallow in darkness. And autumn. Well, autumn is literally the withering of vibrance to ready you for cold. Yes, the other seasons all have positives (I personally consider September to be my true New Year celebration), but they can also easily be used as scapegoats for sadness, burn out, and general malaise.
Again, poor summer. It’s our golden child, and we’ve raised the bar for its success to an unachievable standard.
So, why not have a shitty summer? Let summer be your season of struggle if it needs to be. Say no to plans. Stay inside. Throw out your aspirational reading list. Cancel the ice cream crawl you had planned with those periphery friends you find exhausting. Just throw the whole season in the bin. Maybe without those expectations, we can start to be a bit more gentle with both ourselves and our beloved summer.
Want to sink into total summer melancholy? I’ve rounded up some shitty summer quotes to end with so you’re in good company. Unless you’d rather be alone. That’s cool too.
“I don’t know how long I kept at it…I felt reasonably safe, stretched out on the floor, and lay quite still. It didn’t seem to be summer any more” — Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
“We can’t possibly have a summer love. So many people have tried that the name’s become proverbial. summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It’s a sad season of life without growth…It has no day.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
“The summer stretched out the daylight as if on a rack. Each moment was drawn out until its anatomy collapsed. Time broke down. The day progressed in an endless sequence of dead moments.” — China Miéville, Perdido Street Station
“Hot weather opens the skull of a city, exposing its white brain, and its heart of nerves, which sizzle like the wires inside a lightbulb. And there exudes a sour extra-human smell that makes the very stone seem flesh-alive, webbed and pulsing.” — Truman Capote, summer Crossing
“The summer demands and takes away too much. But night, the reserved, the reticent, gives more than it takes” — John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror