It’s uncomfortable to discover something about yourself that you hate, that you’d rather nobody see.
This is what I’ve learned: I fall apart in the summer. I depend so greatly on external structure that the three months of school-lessness sends me into something of an annual tizzy.
Something about the open hours, the lack of work (I’m on an academic schedule), and the half-bored whining of my son all contributes to the miasma of summer. And I hate it.
I’m not talking about the vacation days, the hours on a beach, or the time exploring new cities. Those are the highlights of my summer and I truly do love them.
But something about the in between days makes me slightly crazy. I feel both undefined and trapped. One can crochet, nap, and watch NCIS so many hours before something snaps.
It sounds like a mental illness, but I swear, I feel better as soon as school starts, as soon as I’m surrounded by a schedule and people again.
It’s a fact about myself that I keep running into over and over again: I need external pressure to do pretty much anything.
I won’t work out unless I’ve paid money and have a teacher expecting me. I won’t do extra math with Nate unless his grades start to suffer. I don’t to really clean my house until my mother-in-law is coming.
I don’t know if that’s honesty or the worst evidence of laziness.
A to-do list helps sometimes. “Whitney, you really need to check the mail and paint the bathroom!” I’ll command. Occasionally, there will be a crises of identity. What kind of life do I have when there’s nothing meaningful to do? How can my life be nothing but minor household tasks?
Daniel teases me about my daily introspection hour. I half-laugh, half-resent his confidence.
In the meantime, I try to hang on, do the next thing. “What will I be glad I did when school starts?” helps. And also: just because my brain tells me I’m unproductive and drifting doesn’t mean that I am. If I take several slow breaths and actually look around myself, I can see evidence of weeks of work: a new house, unpacked boxes, evidences of newly settled home.
In three weeks, the calendar whirlwind will pick up again and I’ll be both grateful for the speed and longing for the still. It’s human to always want something and nothing at the same time.
I may not like what I’ve learned about myself, but it helps to discover, to confirm for the ten thousandth time, that yes, indeed, I’m human.