The Dread of Sunday Nights
Staring down the barrel of a full week ahead.
Angst. Uncertainty. Dread.
With a full workweek ahead, these are just a few of the emotions I feel as my head hits the pillow each Sunday night.
How can I break free of this Sisyphean cycle?
Welcome to the latest edition of “On the Clock,” my video series in which I explore what it’s like living with a countdown clock — a clock that’s counting down to the (theoretical) end of my life.
If you’re unable to watch the video, its transcript is below…
The Sunday Scaries.
The Sunday Night Blues.
Whatever you want to call them, I’ve got them.
Just saying the words, Sunday night, sends a shiver of dread through me.
I think about all the workouts I have to get through. And the articles I have to write. And the slow-moving cars that will make every commute feel like an extended school zone.
And I fill up with fear.
Unfortunately, this negative outlook is nothing new for me.
As a kid, every Sunday night, my mom’s side of the family would get together for dinner.
I loved it. I loved playing with my cousins. I loved seeing my grandparents, and my aunt and uncle. And I loved my grandfather’s pot roast, which he’d seasoned with, among other things, Miller Lite.
But once dessert was finished and the plates were cleared, I could feel my mood shift.
The fun was over.
Now it was time to go home, put on my Underoos and get ready for the week ahead.
And as we said our goodbyes, I remember looking at my great-grandmother, standing there in her high heels and pearl earrings. She was in her late eighties at the time, she couldn’t drive and she was battling dementia.
But I was jealous of her, because she didn’t have to get up and go to school the next day.
It’s been probably 25 years since those family dinners, and I still haven’t shaken that negative mindset.
What’s funny is that, whereas I hated school, I like my job now.
The people couldn’t be nicer. I write about interesting topics for three different magazines. And I’m getting great experience in a field I enjoy.
Yet, I’m still locked in this Sisyphean struggle.
My week feels like a mountain I have to climb, day by day. And after a brief reprieve at the summit, I’m returned right back to the bottom.
When I go to sleep on Sunday night, there’s nothing out of the ordinary traumatizing my thoughts.
Just the week’s standard tasks — because I haven’t completed any of them.
My to-do list is at full capacity, and that’s intimidating.
When I wake up the next morning, Monday feels like, well, Monday.
While Tuesday doesn’t have a feeling at all. It’s just this block of 24 hours that sits between me and progress, which comes on Wednesday, the halfway mark.
For four years of college, Thursday was the start of the weekend, and that mentality has stuck, even though I’m unconscious now at the time we were going out back then.
Friday is arguably my pinnacle, because while I do have to get up early, the unscheduled bliss of the weekend is all out in front of me. When I walk out at closing time, I’m the furthest I’ll be from starting over again.
Naturally, I love Saturdays. I don’t have kids, and it’s the only day of the week I get to wake up and go to sleep without any looming responsibility.
But come Sunday afternoon, when the late NFL games start their 2nd half, the dread ramps up.
And as I get in bed that night, with a pit in my stomach, I realize I’m right back where I started seven days before.
Now would be the time to make clear that, despite these ramblings, I’m not a miserable person.
Regardless of what day it is, I laugh with my wife. I have fun with my friends. I enjoy spiritual conversations with my mom. And I play golf with my dad.
But for some reason, I’ve sentenced myself to this tug-of-war with time.
It’s either moving too slowly or too quickly, and rarely just right.
The voice in my head is constantly reminding me of how many ticks are left on the clock, and not in a good way.
It’s a horrible habit that’s taken on a life of its own.
I can’t stand living like this, because a) It’s pointless; Monday will always come after Sunday.
And b) It’s not an external issue. It’s all in my head. I’m doing this to myself.
But that also means I can change it myself.
And what gives me hope is that there was a time when I did.
In 2013, I quit my job, moved to Oregon and worked as a caddie at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. In upcoming videos, I’m sure I’ll reference this experience a bunch, because it was so pivotal for me.
But for now, I just want to focus on one aspect of it.
As a caddie, there was no standard workweek. Guests were coming and going from the resort all the time, so you could get assigned a job that ran Monday to Thursday, or Saturday to Tuesday, whenever.
And when that job was done, you’d move onto the next one.
As long as you wanted to keep showing up, you could go weeks without a day off.
At first, I was worried about this.
For as much as I complain about the typical workweek, I also find safety in its structure, in its predictability.
Every step of the way, I know what’s expected of me, and I know how much longer I have until I get a break.
That wasn’t the case at Bandon. But once I started working there, I realized how liberating it was.
I was no longer stuck in this negative cycle, focused on making it across those Monday-to-Friday monkey bars.
None of the days had a specific feel. They all felt the same, because they all were the same, each with the same intrinsic value.
When my alarm would go off, I never cared where we stood on the calendar.
It was today, and that was the only thing that mattered.
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