I walked out of Angell Hall at 5:30 p.m. this past Tuesday; it was dark. The streetlights had already turned on, and the harsh wind blew my hair into my face. I pulled my coat tighter around my body and sighed in annoyance, partially able to see wisps of my breath in front of me. “I hate this. I hate the cold. I hate that it gets dark so early these days,” I thought to myself while starting my walk home, practically dragging my feet the whole way.
I miss feeling the warmth of the sunlight hit my face. I miss seeing the sun sparkle on the water on long summer afternoons spent by the lakes. I miss waking up to the sun’s rays peeking through my blinds in the morning. To me, the sun represents happiness and lightness, and there is always a little extra bounce in my step on sunny days. “I’m like a houseplant — I need sun,” I tell people. That’s why I dread those colder months when the sun sets before I even get home for dinner.
I want to make it clear that it might sound like I’m referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I have not been diagnosed with SAD. I’m not claiming to know what people who have been diagnosed with it are going through, nor am I claiming to have any answers. I acknowledge that SAD is more than simply feeling down during certain months of the year, and this piece is not about SAD. My purpose for writing this piece is to put into words the lethargy and gloominess that I’ve been experiencing since it’s been getting dark outside sooner in the day and the weather has been getting colder. My hope is that doing this will help me to acknowledge my own feelings and check-in with myself. I also hope this will encourage you to do the same and realize that you’re not alone if you’ve been experiencing similar feelings.
For a while now, I’ve taken to journaling to practice self-care. So, noticing how daylight saving time and the sudden darkness were affecting me mentally, I sat down with my favorite pen, journal and a steaming cup of tea one night and started writing. After half an hour, I came up with a list of my favorite things about fall and winter:
1. Getting to see the vibrant colors of the leaves changing every day when I walk through campus
2. The smell of freshly baked pie and apple cider donuts
3. How the air gets crisper and breathing it in feels like drinking a big glass of cold water after being really thirsty
4. Sipping hot chocolate and feeling it warm up my insides
5. The cozy feeling of burrowing inside my blankets on chilly, lazy mornings
6. Fuzzy sweaters and thick, long socks in every color and pattern
7. The satisfying sound of snow crunching beneath my boots
8. Blasting Christmas music as soon as it hits Nov. 1 and feeling like a little kid again
9. Sitting by the crackling fireplace and feeling like I’m a marshmallow being roasted as I wiggle my fingers and toes in front of the fire
10. Twinkling Christmas lights and candles lighting up the room
While spring will always be my favorite season because I associate those months with longer days and nice weather, creating this list helped me to see things in a different light (literally). I won’t suppress unhappy feelings or chastise myself for being low-spirited, but instead, allow myself to process those emotions. When I feel ready, I can refer to this list to make me feel better. I don’t love fall or winter, but maybe they’re not so bad. The seasons will change, as they always do, and I’ll be able to enjoy the sun again soon. Until then, I’ll be feeling the warmth on my face from the fireplace instead and listening to “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on repeat.
MiC Columnist Victoria Tan can be reached at email@example.com.