Photo by Kleigh Balugo
This time of the year is always characterized by my pure denial that the cold, damp, dark part of the year is quickly approaching. For about a week now, I’ve been waking up for my 8am class to utter darkness. As I eat breakfast, I hope to catch a glimpse of the sun rising as I eat, but it isn’t even up by the time I’m running to class- I only see it begin to filter through the windows when class has just started and I’m trying to yawn the sleepiness away before the lecture starts. The sun starts to set before or during dinner (if it makes an appearance during the day at all), and it’s become a part of my routine to return to my room and begrudgingly put on a heavier jacket before I set out for the night.
Fall brings so much less sunlight and time outside- things I never quite realize are so central to my mood and general well-being until they kind of peter out through fall and are pretty much completely absent once winter rolls around. I would never call myself an outdoors person; I don’t camp, hike, or do anything requiring huge effort outside. For the most part, my outdoor activities consist of sitting and listening to music or doing homework- but the past year or so has taught me how restorative it is to literally just be outside, sitting on a blanket under a tree with a book or perched on a table on campus (maybe with a coffee I might have spent $7 on earlier that day.) When fall brings lower temperatures, I’m always at a bit of a loss, scrambling to replace my little habit as the need for reprieve from academic stress peaks. Until it gets completely unbearable, I love nothing more than to bundle up and do my homework outside stubbornly, ignoring the fact that temperatures are well below “sitting outside leisurely” temperature.
There are certainly elements of fall that make it worthwhile: watching the progression of leaves from their summer green to the rusty oranges and reds and browns is one of my favorite things about the season. I also get to break out the jackets I have a bad habit of buying in excess throughout the year, and it’s the best time to start making plans with friends for pumpkin carving and planning Halloween costumes. By October, I’ve fully adjusted to my school schedule- waking up for classes isn’t the hassle it was in August (when I’m still ruled by my lethargic summer brain.) I’ve accepted that my dark circles are here to stay until next summer, and nothing else makes more sense.
I can understand why a lot of people call this time of the year their favorite; I just named a number of things I like about fall, yet I could never bring myself to love it. The pretty colors and fun plans are exciting, but it’s almost cruel to let yourself get attached to it before you’re met with no sunlight for the majority of the day and freezing fingers 24/7. Regardless, this fall might have to be about being a little less stubborn and finding other ways to satiate my restlessness, even if I’m confined to the inside of a building for most hours of the day. I can get by making hyper-specific mood playlists (which, when you think about it, all go under the generic category of ‘fall’ anyways) or going to the thrift store to buy even more fall jackets. Maybe reading in the warmth of my room with an extra blanket and dim lights and hot tea can be my little joy until I can dust off my picnic blanket and start buying iced drinks once again.