If Your Summer Has Been a Bummer

Summer, particularly for those whose lives are impacted by the school calendar, holds the hopeful promise of rest. Even with an obligation here or there, we often hope summer is different somehow in terms of fun, space to breathe, the chance to travel, rest, catch up, or whatever else may feel beyond our reach during the school year.

That said, it occurred to me the other day that I have a very clear memory of one of my favorite summers ever. During the seven years I worked in higher education, 2014 was especially sweet. It wasn’t for any particular reason, just a series of pleasantries like the weather being wonderful, good times with family and friends, some travel, etc.

So, it stands to reason if I can identify an amazing summer, others have not been that way. Of course, some are just neutral. But, others are a bummer. This may be bummer with a lowercase b, as in mildly disappointing. Or, they can be Bummer with a capital B, because they are extra hard.

Because summer is something we often hoist on a pedestal, it can be harder to cope when things don’t go well or as expected. If that is the case for you this year, here are some strategies for managing the unique disappointment that can come when your summer is a bummer.

Coping When Your Summer Has Been a Bummer

Pair Grief with Gratitude: Navigating real life means that we cannot pursue only grief or only gratitude. It is a rare moment indeed where fully embracing one or the other is the best way forward. Instead, life is most often a combination of stuff that is hard and things we can be grateful for. If your summer has been a bummer so far, consider this your permission to grieve. Even for things that feel like a “privilege” (i.e. a trip being canceled, vacation not going as planned, etc.) it’s okay to be bummed out.

Then, as you allow yourself to think about what you wanted but didn’t get, reach for the gratitude of what you have. Rather than toxic positivity where we only “think about good things” and neglect the rest of our human experience, we want to honor both to find the way forward.

Retrieve What You Can: This is the human equivalent of “it’s not over ‘til it’s over.” Even if your summer experiences, plans, hopes, etc. have not met your expectations, there is still some summer left. Sometimes, when things don’t go according to plan, we feel an urge to say it’s all a wash. As with grief and gratitude, we do better when we can hold partial success and partial “failures” at the same time. Rarely is anything a complete loss, just as it is with a summer that has been part bummer.

Embrace Impermanence: The reality of the human experiences is that the highs never stay high and the lows never stay low. If you have had a bummer of a summer, you are very likely to have others that will not be. Learn the lessons you need to if the “bummer-ness” was in your control and learn to throw up your hands if it was not. There is both great hope and great perspective to be found in saying, “Things will not always be this way.”

If your summer has been a bummer, I’m so sorry. I hope you take the time to grieve what has been disappointing. And, in the same breath, I hope that there is both gratitude and a drive for redemption that help you make the most of the days that remain.

Post published July 6, 2023 by Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo

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