The Five Stages of Grieving the Summer
Back to school season is officially upon us, marking the loss of yet another summer. This sudden change can be overwhelming and lead to a number of responses from your body and mind, often coming in multiple waves. Whether you are feeling sad, confused, or angry about the transition, remember that all emotions are valid. The Campus community is here for you, so let this article serve as a guide to coping with your grief.
Denial is a defense mechanism that your mind uses to help you through an initial shock. After all, losing the summer is a drastic change that always seems to come too soon, no matter how much you convinced yourself you would actually be ready for it this year (almost as if your June self is a completely different person than your current self). You’ll do everything in your power to pretend that the calendars are just wrong and that it’s actually still July because it is a known fact that months are not supposed to move that fast.
Drowning out the oddly chipper back to school commercials and refusing to talk about the school-that-must-not-be-named, you decide that your summer reading can wait since it’s not due for another two months — right? However, denial cannot last forever and is broken by the urge to check your schedule the second it is released and send screenshots of it to your group chats, praying that you won’t have to be the only person in your group of friends with early lunch.
Following the period of denial may come anger. After numbing your emotions for so long, they need some form of outlet, possibly coming in the form of panic as you frantically try to read three novels in one week. As it turns out, school was not two months away. Anger could also manifest as you ask yourself why school even exists, leading yourself to spiral into a mini existential crisis.
As the first day of school draws nearer, you might find yourself in the bargaining stage of grief. Bargaining is a way for you to feel some control over a situation that is out of your hands. It is not uncommon to feel a desperation for hope that there might be some summer left to spare. You might also have regrets that will come flooding back to you, leaving you wishing that you had made good on your vow to study over the break so school work could be somewhat more manageable.
By this time, your feelings will have had some time to settle in, leading to a stage of intense melancholy that for many is assuaged by plenty of Netflix binges. You’ll start to think about all the things the new school year brings with it, such as waking up before 8:00, stressful homework, hoping one hour is enough time to beat the morning traffic, and the risk of being run over by a rolly backpack in the breezeways. When the first day of school rolls around, your depression can make getting out of bed more difficult, and you’ll find solace in the snooze button.
Though it was a long road getting here, everyone reaches acceptance at some point, even if it occurs after the first day of school. You’ll know you’ve reached it when you give into the desire to make an end of summer Instagram post and start to acknowledge that you’ll just have to survive off the weekends now. But who knows? You may manage to find some optimism hidden amongst your grief. After all, a new school year means a new year to start fresh, so maybe school is not such a terrible thing after all. If you don’t feel this way, don’t worry about it too much — you still have winter break.