written by
Lucinda Koza

The Sunday Scaries: One Phrase, Many Meanings

Narrative 3 min read , May 15, 2022
by Lucinda Koza

Our society has taken the phrase “The Sunday Scaries” and applied it directly to the working woman’s dread on a Sunday evening as she realizes the workweek is now upon her. I do not doubt this experience one bit; I remember my mother’s literal depression coming on as the Sunday progressed. According to a survey conducted by job site Monster, up to 76% of Americans self-reported having “really bad” Sunday night anxiety, compared to just 47% of people around the world.

The Sunday Scaries sounds, to me, like a much more sinister creature, with roots planted firmly and effects more insidious. Literally, the phrase itself sounds like a pit of despair, a terrifying disease someone must come up with a vaccination against swiftly. The phrase is scary. I’ve dreaded a workweek before me, no doubt, but that was child’s play compared to the manifestation of Sunday Scaries in my life.

Even as a child, I remember an eerie emptiness I couldn’t name. Sunday School and/or church was the grand opening. I saw friends of mine there, and their families, but we weren’t allowed to have fun. We weren’t allowed to act like ourselves. My mom was Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Sundays. Not present. Eerie. Since we were in South Carolina, every single business was closed on Sundays. This meant you can’t do anything on Sundays, and no one is out and about on the town. No one was anywhere. Eerie and scary. As I got older, add the fact that it was a school night, which became the resounding mantra of all parents -- the ultimate excuse that Sunday was not a day for living. It was a day to silently endure. I would be eager to return to school the next day.

Through high school, boarding school and college, Sundays remained scary. There appeared to be a choice. You could, technically, use it as a day of fun. Throw caution to the wind and use this day of freedom. You could, also, use it as a day of total rest. Sleep. TV. Food. Alternatively, it became a day chock full of studying, writing papers and cramming in work you’ve put off. None of these worked for me. I was never the right amount of ‘throw caution to the wind,’ but I was also never the right amount of ‘total relaxation.’ I was always disappointing my friends or my boyfriend, because I couldn’t be the right balance. So, I ended up depressed. Anticipation of Sunday was depressing. The reality of Sunday was abysmal. The memory of Sunday was gladly put in the rear view mirror.

The scariest thing about Sunday is there is no collective experience. My childhood Sundays taught me that people are somewhat absent on this day. People are altered. Subdued. Meant to reflect. Well, reflecting was never great for me, and now, reflecting is the worst. To be alone, even if with someone else -- given the time to do nothing but reflect on tragedies there is nothing you can do about, decide not to call your family because you know you’ll feel worse after (a decision that echoes across the globe, because, well, it’s Sunday, and everyone knows you have time). Sundays are embarrassing to publicly acknowledge. Even in the intimacy of a marriage between two people, Sunday is a day in which you can barely look one another in the eye. The two of you will never have the same energy or objective for the day, so then I become an island.

Which is what I am. An island. John Steinbeck wrote,

“There are some among us who live in rooms of experience we can never enter.”

No one can enter my room of experience, and this is magnified exponentially on Sundays. The Sunday Scaries to me are like staring into the abyss.

But remember, just remember, tomorrow comes. Tomorrow comes.

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