BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

Why Do I Dread Sunday Nights?

Dread

My professional career path has zigged as much as it’s zagged. When I graduated college, I had no clue what to do, which led me to a series of jobs that, when asked about, always required the qualification, “It pays the bills.” Manual labor, administrative inundations, soul-siphoning corporate bidding — my mishmashed resume is as coherent as a toddler’s cry for his sippy cup.

I’ve subscribed to what can kindly be deemed the process-of-elimination approach: Doing what I don’t want to discover what I do. And thankfully I have. Last year I became a full-time contributor to three print magazines, which has been as rewarding as I’d hoped. I’m surrounded by great co-workers, I have an office with a door and my jeans and untucked shirt comply with the dress code. For the first time in some time, going to work doesn’t feel like colonoscopy prep.

And yet, I still dread Sunday nights.

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When I was a kid, Sunday nights were about family. Most of my mom’s side lived in Houston, and each week we’d get together for dinner. I loved it. I loved being with everybody, and I loved my grandfather’s Miller Lite-seasoned pot roast.

But once the dessert plates were cleared and the goodbyes began, my internal vibe shifted. The fun was over. It was now time to look forward, to go home, put on my Underoos and prepare for the week ahead.

It was in those moments I’d turn to my great-grandmother, standing there in her high heels, formal dress and pearl earrings. She was in her late 80s, unable to drive and battling dementia, and I remember feeling thankful that we still had her around.

But mostly I remember being jealous of her, because she didn’t have to go to school the next day.

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Google “Sunday night blues” and you’ll get countless articles discussing what they are, where they come from and how to beat them. Mine have haunted me since those family dinners, and they’ve cast my routine into a sort of Sisyphean struggle. The workweek feels like a mountain I must ascend, day by day, and after a brief reprieve at the summit, I’m returned back to the bottom.

Closing my eyes on Sunday night, there’s nothing unusual that’s traumatizing my thoughts — just the week’s standard tasks, because I haven’t accomplished any of them. I haven’t gotten up early once. I haven’t done one workout or answered one email or completed one commute. My default to-do list is filled to capacity.

I don’t know how to describe Monday’s feeling other than it feels like Monday, while Tuesday doesn’t have a feel at all. It’s just these 24 non-descript hours that sit between me and progress, which comes on Wednesday, the halfway mark.

For four years of college, Thursday kicked off the weekend, and that mentality has stuck, even though I’m unconscious now at the hour I was going out at back then.

Friday is arguably my pinnacle. I do have to get up early, and I do have to endure two waves of traffic. But all the freedom and flexibility and unscheduled bliss is out in front of me. When I walk out at closing time, I’m the furthest I’ll be from starting over again.

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Now would be the time to make clear that, despite these ramblings, I am not a miserable person. I laugh with my wife at The Mindy Project on Mondays, and I joke with my mom at lunch on Wednesdays.

Yet I’ve sentenced myself to this tug-of-war with time. Either it’s going too slowly or quickly, and rarely just right. And whether I’m doing something mandatory or voluntary, the voice in my head continually reminds me of the remaining ticks on the clock. This voice doesn’t even change the words it uses, only its inflection — “You still have two days left” conforms to however you view your status quo.

While these situations change, the constant is this focus on the future. I’ve become obsessed with the future. It’s to the point where Thursday and Friday feel more like the weekend, and Saturday night’s become the new Sunday, because my mind lives not in the present but in what’s coming next.

Growing up, my mother taught us the importance of having things to look forward to. Unfortunately, I’ve taken that to the extreme. It’s like I stuck this healthy lesson in the microwave, annihilated its nutrients and am now feeding on its radioactive, one-frozen-spot-in-the-middle remains.

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This forward-facing mentality isn’t as much an ethos as it is a bad habit that’s taken on a life of its own. The more aware of it I’ve become, the more it’s all I can see, like if you try to not picture the color red.

I can’t stand being like this, because a) it’s futile; Monday will always come after Sunday, and b) it’s not an external issue. It’s not like if I, say, got a good job or married the right wife my perspective would change. I’ve already done both. This is all in my head, a place that’s proven to be about as easy to repair as my house.

What gives me hope, though, is my time as a caddie at Bandon Dunes, the one stretch when I was free of this personality tic. Out there, there was no workweek, because every day was a workday. With guests coming and going, assignments could just as commonly run Wednesday to Sunday as they could Saturday to Tuesday, or any other arbitrary continuum.

As someone who’s dependent on structure, this arrangement — or lack thereof — initially felt foreign and unsafe. But after a little adjustment, I was shocked at how much I appreciated it.

I could make of my time what I wanted, free of warped expectations or fears of how I should be feeling or what was coming next. No longer was my fixation on crossing the Monday-to-Friday monkey bars. It didn’t have to be, because it didn’t matter what day it was. It was today, and nothing else mattered.

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

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