Judging Dread

Turns out that, as with dancing, sports are a thing that I greatly enjoy to watch, even though I don’t have any particular talent — or any talent at all, really — for doing those things with my own body. Now, it’s not like I’m a rabid sports fan that must find something live and sportsy to watch whenever I have a free minute:

But I do follow a few of the “big” sports casually — baseball, football, a little hockey (a more recent addition from when my nephew started playing it). And I’ve always been a huge fan of the Olympics and Grand Slam tennis.

So, tonight, once Serena Williams had made a new piece of history by winning the U.S. Open Championship and joining Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the “18 Grand Slams” club, Mr. Mezzo asked me if I had enjoyed the match and its result.

“I guess so. I’m not sure. I can’t even tell through all the guilt.”

Sunday_Night_Blues_by_OniYonYes, dear reader, the Sunday Night Dreads have set in.

It’s a common phenomenon. The quickest of visits to professor Google uncovered a raft of sources about this pattern — usually called “the Sunday Night Blues,” but for some reason, “the Dreads” has always been the name in my own head about this all. I think the most apt summary, for me, is from Psychology Today:

Sunday nights are hard for lots of us. For one thing, they stir up old feelings from schooldays – long after we leave the education system, our bodies and psyches bring up childhood fears about unfinished homework and tests we’re not prepared for. For another, like Jackie, we can’t figure out where the time went and what happened to all our good intentions – the paperwork we were going to catch up on, the errands we were going to run, the book we were going to read, the friends we were going to see? Oh yes, and what about all of the fun and relaxing we were going to do?

One interesting reminder in that article (and also in HuffPo, Cosmo, and Business Insider) is that this Sunday night pattern of inadequacy and anxiety is one that can occur even when you like your job. This tracks with my experience, because in all honesty, the largest portion of my Sunday-night dread is not explicitly about the upcoming work week. Yes, there will be stress and much busy-ness, and there will always be part of me that wonders if I could maybe “get ahead” of the maelstrom by doing some weekend work. But I’ve been in the non-profit biz long enough to know that the office to-do’s could quite legitimately expand into every waking second of my life, so I’ve made a certain peace with the always-feeling-behind nature of my career, and I’ve also built a pretty good habit of doing weekend work only when when I’ve determined it to be truly important and urgent.

As such, the Sunday Night Dreads for me isn’t as much about looking ahead into the coming week as it is about looking back with a sense of failure over the two days sliding to their end-point. Because, when compared to my aspirations — reading, writing, ed-study, laundry, checkbook-balancing, house cleaning, finally getting back to unpacking, pulling cards on about ninety-eleven open life questions I’m trying to sort through, and yes, even a little bit of office-work I’ve deemed to be weekend-necessary — well, compared to all of that, I have made a piss-poor showing, indeed.

Now, the immensitude* of that to-do list reveals how very unrealistic and aspirational my weekend “plans” were — which is pretty much a textbook example of how to set oneself up for feeling like a failure. So the suggestions F. Diane Barth offers in that Psychology Today article about how to “daydream differently” when creating your weekend plans are things I’m going to try and adopt in weeks and weekends to come.

Here’s hoping it does something to reduce the Sunday Night Dread.

For now, I’m off to do a little ed-reading before bedtime. Even if my to-do list was way out-of-proportion, it’ll still feel good to check one more thing off. Besides, this is even on the Business Insider list of things successful people do on Sundays!

They catch up on reading that has been neglected. Most successful people read every night before bed, so Sunday-night reading is part of their routines.

I want to be successful people, right?

* No, not a real word. But I want it to be.


Image credit: “Sunday Night Blues” by HanieMohd. Unaltered. Used under a Creative Commons license. (Retrieved from: http://haniemohd.deviantart.com/art/Sunday-Night-Blues-104470789 )

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