Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Burden of Autumn AKA Autumn Anxiety

Before I begin, let me just say that I'm not writing this so you can see how neurotic I am. I'm writing this in hopes that I've identified something other people are feeling, too.

Every year when October 1st rolls around, scores of people celebrate the beginning of fall and all the lovely things that come with it. Pumpkin everything! Halloween! Leaves! Changing colours! Sweaters! Thanksgiving!

Every year when October 1st rolls around for me, a ridiculous sort of anxiety starts to overtake me. In the past, it's manifested itself as a baking frenzy. I start reading Pinterest and I start wanting to make things. I've felt antsy unless I'm in the kitchen (Anthony never complains about this).

This year since I'm doing the low carb thing and baking is mostly out of the question, I feel a bit at a loss. Every day since September 21st, I've felt increasingly anxious about it being autumn. You see, I feel like I am never doing enough to enjoy autumn. While everyone is praising pumpkin spice lattes and decorating for Halloween, I feel trapped by the idea I'm not doing enough to enjoy autumn while it lasts.

Replacing your bed with a pile of leaves in order to enjoy autumn is not recommended.

I drive by signs for pumpkin spice lattes and the internal battle begins: "Oh I should get one of those...but they're so sugary and never as good as I think they're going to be. Ugh, but they're only around for a short time. Can I really budget the sugar today? It's also expensive. But Jaime, pumpkin spice latte!"

I drive by houses with bales of hay, pumpkins and other decorations and I feel jealous that I don't have a house to decorate for the seasons. I secretly vow that once I move into a house, I'll go all out. I'll really do autumn right.

I drive by trees changing colours and I feel downright guilty that I haven't taken the time to stroll in the park, breathed in the autumn smell, and immersed myself in autumn. I tell myself that I'm wasting autumn if I'm not fully immersed in it.

I see cute sweaters in the mall and I wish knit sweaters looked any good on me. How (superficially) perfect it would be to buy a beautiful cardigan and go for a walk in the park, sipping a pumpkin spice latte and planning what pies I'm going to bake that evening. That would be the textbook definition of enjoying autumn.

The truth is, I love autumn but dealing with the constant guilt of not enjoying it enough is getting to me. What a ridiculous problem to have.

This year I decided to create a fall bucket list. I thought if I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish by November 1st, my anxiety would subside. Most of my list doesn't have anything to do with autumn and so the guilt and the anxiety is creeping back up as October inches forward. Maybe I need to revise the list to add more of the cliche autumn activities.

I talked to a friend today about this and he agreed he feels some anxiety about not enjoying autumn enough. I feel like I may be onto something here. How have we gone from simply liking this season to feeling immense pressure to enjoy it in some kind of LL Bean catalogue spread-approved way? Just to show you what I mean, I wrote that last sentence without even looking at the LL Bean website. Here's their front page right now:

See what I mean?

I don't have the answer to my questions. I don't know why I feel so much anxiety to enjoy a season I get to experience every year. I don't know why I feel like I have to enjoy it in such a rigid, pre-decided way. I don't know why just enjoying it simply and being happy it's October isn't enough. Why are we so focused on getting as much out of autumn as possible? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

(Non-sequitur P.S. from Jaime: I'll be updating again on Monday or Tuesday about my weight loss progress, so keep your eyes open for that.)


  1. "How (superficially) perfect it would be to buy a beautiful cardigan and go for a walk in the park, sipping a pumpkin spice latte and planning what pies I'm going to bake that evening. That would be the textbook definition of enjoying autumn."

    That is how I feel every fall and it never lives up to my expectations! However, this fall and last fall I had a different kind of anxiety. The "everyone gets to have fall-y, pumpkin-y, cider-y things except me" kind of anxiety. I looked at Pinterest and Tastespotting recipes endlessly and longingly and last fall I even convinced Nick I needed to buy an $8 jar of apple butter (because it just isn't fall without apple butter). I don't think we finished half of that jar before it was time to throw it out. Talk about guilt, lol!

    In all honesty I feel the "I need to get the most out of this season" anxiety all the way until January or February. You are not alone! :-)

  2. I LOVE FALL!! My favourite time of the year!

    I agree the pumpkin latte's are too expensive dollar wise and sugar wise so I buy a pumpkin candle. I love the gourds, baby pumpkins, gigantic pumpkins, hay and corn stalks. I love to stand under red , yellow and orange leaves on a tree and just feel the colours...makes me smile! You are so lucky to walk out your door to the park. And I never stress about raking leaves as that is why there is wind! Eventually they go away ;-}

    It does give me that nesting feeling of getting out the winter clothes, putting away patio furniture, and baking. Because I don't bake (because I EAT IT!) I make comfort food and freeze it for the winter. Altho not so much now that the kids have moved out.

    Christmas is the season that gives me all the same stresses that Fall gives you. I am so irritated that decorations are out in all the stores...takes away from Fall! And all the guilt! Too much food not enough food, too many gifts not enough gifts, will there be snow for Christmas day...oh the worries!

    Today I am even drinking my coffee with peppermint mocho coffeemate...tooooo soooon !!!

    One day when the rain stops let's go for a walk thru Canatara Park :;-}

  3. I know! Autumn is my favourite season and I also hate when I feel like it's "going to waste"

    Here's a link to pumpkin spice coffee that's low carb (and paleo). I haven't tried it yet, but I plan to soon.

    And here's one for grain free pumpkin gingerbread cake from a paleo blog I really like. I haven't made this one yet either, but I have her cookbook and every recipe I've made come out perfectly.



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