The general malaise of summer.
There is a cloud hanging over the golden light of summer, a cloud heavy with expectation and inadequacy.
How is it possible, one might say, to experience malaise in the summer?
The expectation of having an action-packed, bbq-filled, skirt-flouncing summer, where everything is easy and full of joy, where we can picnic with friends and go to the beach, and swim in crystal waters, and sing the summer’s praises.
Financial lack, however, doesn’t disappear with the change in seasons.
This is a reality for many artists, including myself.
How do we sit in the sunshine and not feel the heaviness of debt or doubt clouding our hearts and minds?
How do we sit with the present when the present is sometimes painful?
When everyone *except* us is enjoying themselves?
Or at least that’s what we’re lead to believe when we check our instagram feed.
And when we do go out for summer adventures, we’re so busy attempting to document perfection that we can’t enjoy what we’re experiencing. Like the sticky sweat dripping down our the backs of our shirts, the real experience is not good enough to be seen.
After sitting with my own feelings and chatting with a few brilliant writerly women, we’ve realised that this feeling is not ours alone.
We share it.
There is a real lack, a deeper lack, of what the summer is supposed to feel like, of what it felt like when we were kids. No school, no responsibilities, no worries. Just the warm breeze, a pitcher full of lemonade, a handful of frozen grapes and the sun gleaming on the handlebars of our bicycles.
As much as we’d like to believe we can recapture that childhood summer, it’s beyond us. It’s the one we feel that we always have to catch up to, and never seem to experience. Maybe we have a day of childhood joy, or even an hour. A sloshy popsicle, a windswept country drive, a few hours to sit in the sun. But for some of us, there is still that cloud, that cloud of lack, pooling itself over our heads, ready to rain down on our summer-nostaglia-mini-parade.
I don’t have the answers.
All I know is that this FOMO we’re experiencing is dangerous. Dangerous in its expectations of us, dangerous in its utter ungroundedness in reality, dangerous in its picture perfect filters of hipsterized ice cream. Dangerous in its ability to stop us in our tracks and make us feel that we can’t go on. That we’re not enough. That we don’t have enough.
For the last month of summer, I’m turning my FOMO meter off.
I’m sitting with the discomfort of financial lack, of knowing it’s still there and no amount of vegan ice cream or iced frappuccinos will take it away. It’s just something to live with, and hopefully with a bit of grace.
I’m not starving. I’m not shelter-less.
I have sunshine.
And that’s enough.
Some suggestions from friends (and me) to counteract the FOMO:
- Go for early morning walks
- Be gentle and cautious of the expectations you put on yourself
- Check-in with fellow friends/accountability partners
- Turn off your cell phone for a block of time each day- disconnect
- Read more
- Pay attention to how your body feels, check in with your senses
- Return to a daily or weekly meditation practice (visit Toronto Mindfulness Community on great resources and guidance on how to do this)
- Disconnect from social media if you need to
Let me know how your last month of summer is going,