I’ve written a fair amount of posts reminding us all that we experience life differently from one another. I find myself continually coming back to that reality in one way or another. I figure it can’t hurt to give you more examples… so here’s another one.
Everyone loves summer, right? For most people, summer means you can spend more time outside, you might take a vacation, you can go swimming, you can wear sandals and light clothing. The days are also longer, which is a blessed relief for many, especially those who struggle emotionally during winter months when there isn’t as much light in the day.
Well… it’s not like that for everyone. I don’t love summer. It’s not just that it’s hot. Summer has negative effects for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I used to joke that I had reverse-seasonal-affective-disorder (SAD), until I found out that summer depression is a real thing. You can read about it on WebMD or at the Mayo Clinic’s website, but here’s a view into how I personally experience summer:
Heat and humidity.
This is the issue I can trace back further than the others. I am very sensitive to heat and to humidity. I’m fair-skinned, light-haired, and have sensitive eyes, which all contribute. I feel very sluggish in humidity and it’s hard to make myself do anything. This isn’t just a matter of getting used to it or being more self-disciplined. It’s also not just feeling like laying around reading a book instead of getting up and doing something. I have things I want to do and need to do, but it is extremely difficult to do them. There is a significant contrast between my energy in February and my energy in July.
Long days and lack of routine.
Most people have some kind of interruption to their routine in the summer. For teachers, ours is more significant than most. We absolutely need that break from the constant work and stress of the school year, but the break also presents a challenge for me. Routine stabilizes me, and not having it is tricky. Add to that the increased length of time it stays light in the summer, and days can seem like they are never going to end. I am pretty independent and somewhat organized, so this isn’t an issue of needing strategies. I know the strategies. I’m good at the strategies. But even putting strategies into place requires energy and desire, and those are difficult to come by when I am accountable to no one but me.
What summer means.
Summer means change. People tend to move in the summer. Most people choose to have their weddings in the summer. Summer is when activities that line up with the school year end. There are also difficult memories I associate with summer, so it can be a time of painful anniversary.
Talking about summer depression or my own experience isn’t really my point here, though if you learned something helpful from either, that’s great, too. My point is that even things we think are great for everyone are probably difficult for some. So, try not to assume. When someone has to explain why they don’t meet your expectations of enjoying something, it can make them feel even worse. Enjoy whatever you like, just don’t expect everyone else to have the same experience.