By Dana Mietus
Every summer, a familiar pattern emerges. The weather warms up after months of being indoors, and I find myself anticipating exciting summer events and vowing to make the most of each one. Particularly in the month of June, when Pride celebrations are in full swing weekend after weekend.
Yet, every summer, I find myself overwhelmed by these events that I think should excite me. The adrenaline crash from giving up on plans leaves me feeling tired, guilty… and oddly relieved?
Let’s be candid. Summer can be hot, humid, demanding, busy, and downright exhausting. So why do I look forward to it every year? The truth is that some of my favorite memories took place in the summertime. How is this possible when it now fills me with dread?
The answer lies in managing my own expectations.
I tend to view every summer plan and event as mandatory, believing my presence is necessary for the summer to be a “success.” But when did summer become a graded experience? My fondest summer memories come from organic moments spent outdoors with loved ones—no special events, no strict schedules, and no expectations.
Ironically, my attempts to recreate those moments by overloading my schedule with events have led to my inevitable overwhelm and disappointment.
Take Pride, for instance. I’ve yet to attend my local pride parade, which would lead me to fear that I was missing out on a crucial yearly event and that I was guilty of not showing up for my own community.
But let’s consider a few things:
I’m susceptible to heat and easily overwhelmed by crowds…so of course it may not be the best idea for me to attend a parade in the summer heat. No wonder just the thought of attending makes me fatigued.
Why didn’t I connect these dots sooner? And what’s the solution?
Here’s an idea I’m going to try and implement:
First, reflect on what genuinely brings you joy and why. This could be as general as spending time with friends or being outdoors. Or you can apply it specifically to an upcoming event. For instance, I might have an easier time in crowds if it is in a different setting I enjoy, such as concerts or sports events.
Next, objectively list some factors that hinder your enjoyment of these events. In my case, it’s the heat, crowds, and difficulties accessing restrooms or parking. These are all things that might make me apprehensive about attending an event.
Plan accordingly or consider trying something new. How can I lessen my apprehension? Would taking an Uber help to alleviate the stress of finding parking or getting into a scorching hot car after an outdoor event? Maybe I can locate a nearby restaurant or café to cool down and have access to a restroom afterward. Instead of attending a pride parade, I could explore a pride-themed event at my local bookstore or library.
Lastly, take a moment to rest, recuperate, and most importantly, be proud of yourself for prioritizing and caring for your needs. If you’re anything like me, this may be easier said than done. So let me say it to both of us this time:
I’m proud of you.