Finding your cure for the sunday scaries

Meredith Hutchinson

Sleeping in an hour past your blaring alarm and getting out of bed much later than you should’ve on a Sunday morning. Knowing the second you leave your sheets you face the impending doom of the work that you’ve been putting off all weekend.


We all know that feeling. That’s why there’s a name for it: The Sunday Scaries.


Throughout life, I would say I experienced a normal level of Sunday Scaries. The day usually started out with church; in my younger years, I would attend with my family, and in high school it became my workplace. Something about going to church every Sunday at 9 am to take care of 4 year olds just gave me the right start to my day — the perfect distraction from the often stressful reality of high school. 


After church, it was always the usual homework grind coupled with that familiar feeling that tomorrow would be the start of a fresh week. Sometimes that felt scary, particularly when I knew a stressful week was ahead. Sometimes, however, it felt more exciting than anything else. Seeing your friends' faces again, looking forward to that game on Tuesday, to your extra long lunch period you only get on Wednesday, to that party on Friday. And then the weekend, always packed with fun plans. And then we’d do it all over again.


Then I came to college. Shortly after my arrival, I discovered that those Sunday Scaries hit different. With every Sunday came the same existential crisis that I had literally no idea what I was doing. My few journal entries from first semester are often dated on Sundays — and the majority of them express my confusion, apprehension, and ambivalence about Covid college life. I mean, I wasn’t unhappy — I quickly made a group of friends that I felt comfortable with and was excited about the future memories that we would make. But the weekends on East Campus somehow felt... eerie? I’m not the type to get homesick, but Sundays just felt so lonely. 


I found the weekdays at Duke to be somehow much more fulfilling than the weekends. Something about that Monday-Friday routine helped me keep my chin up more than those dreary Saturdays and Sundays. Instead of everyone holed up in their room doing homework, laundry, and other weekend to-dos, we would all be out and about, meeting on the BC plaza after class and getting excited for the Farmstead daily specials. In this case , you might think that Sundays would actually be more exciting, since it meant the week was starting over again. So maybe, this odd sensation should be called the “Sunday Spectaculars.” Despite this logic, the Sunday Scaries always came around, stronger than ever before.


The reality of going to college in a pandemic is that your weekends quite simply don’t have the same charm as they normally would. In a normal freshman year of college (not that I would know), you go into the weekend wondering what wild adventure is to come. During Covid college, however, you go into the weekend looking forward to one dinner reservation with friends, and... well... a positive attitude?


In the beginning of the semester, the Sunday Scaries would hit at about 11 pm on Saturday night, the second we realized that the chances of a crazy experience coming our way were veeeery slim. I always went to bed reluctant, knowing the next time I woke up, the Sunday Scaries would loom over me like the dark rain clouds that Durham conveniently throws at us every Sunday - you know, just to rub it in. The lingering feeling of disappointment in the weekend’s less-than-exciting activities is what makes the scaries so intense. We’ve grown up hearing that, “college is the best four years of your life,” and yet, our weekends were not even giving us the slightest chance to make that catch phrase a reality. I thought I would never find a solution to this sad predicament. 


That warm September Sunday when my friends and I first discovered Monuts, we didn’t realize that we had just had our first taste of what would become our cure for the Sunday Scaries. We just repeatedly decided to go there until it became our Sunday morning regular. My friend Charlotte and I were particularly passionate about keeping the tradition. We would chat during the week about which sandwich we were dying to try next and text each other when one of us realized they had added something new to the menu. You know that awful Durham rain that almost exclusively decides to come on Sundays? Yeah. Charlotte and I would make the 15 minute walk anyways. Rain or shine, we went to Monuts, and Monuts was there for us. 


One weekday in November, I was chatting with some of my friends about going to church that Sunday. I realized I had never gone to the service that they offered in the Science Drive garage, and one of my friends was really recommending it, so I said I would try it out. But Charlotte kindly reminded me, “Meredith, if you go to church, you’re missing out on Monuts. And Monuts is OUR church.” I realized Charlotte was right — waking up on Sunday without that pre-Monuts excitement just wouldn’t be the same.


There is no textbook cure for the Sunday Scaries. But there are some things you can do to ameliorate that oh-so-familiar Sunday pain. And that is finding your church — your thing that you look forward to and can rely on every Sunday. Whether it’s an actual church service, a consistent study date with a friend in one of the many beautiful spots on campus, or a trip to a restaurant on ninth street that makes unrivaled sandwiches, you need to find that place. 


In such an ~unprecedented~ year, creating some form of a routine has kept me sane. Build a routine into your Sundays that also serves as something you look forward to. I promise it will make a difference.


I still wake up on Sundays and have that kinda awful I-have-so-much-homework feeling. But then, I go downstairs and see Charlotte and whoever else decides to join waiting - occasionally decked out in rain gear - and we start the trek to our little church. Every Sunday on that walk, something in my mind calms, and I get a little closer to thinking that maybe the Sunday Scaries are turning into the Sunday Spectaculars after all.