February is the Hardest Month

Recently I had this conversation a couple of different times with friends. Although it is not library-specific, it feels right to share these thoughts on the blog. A couple of years ago, in February, while sitting at the airport with a delayed flight to Baltimore, I decided I was over February. As someone who struggles with the lack of sunlight in Iowa in the Winter (two sun lamps and lots of vitamin D!) who is just tired of snow and ice, and cold, and grey, dreary days, I decided that the following year I would head south in February. I booked a trip and was due to leave February 6, 2020. I didn’t go on that trip. And honestly, I had even forgotten I booked it until last week. But remembering reminded me that February is the hardest month. 

iPhone screeshot. It reads "Monday February 15. Good morning. Partly cloudy conditions with a wind chill of -26 degrees. -8 degrees."Recently I hit a wall. Some of it is due to everything happening in my world right now – we’re waiting to find out if we won our application for funding for the next 5 years. I could be out of a job on May 1. The book is now due in April, and I will finish it if it kills me (I missed the August and October deadlines). I’m taking a graduate class on Instructional Design (don’t ask me why I thought now was a good idea for this) and planning a virtual symposium. I am also watching my niece and nephew a couple of hours each morning, so they don’t have to attend school in person or go to daycare during the pandemic.

But the other parts might be the most important. February is always the hardest month. Even though the days are getting longer, it feels like the snow and cold will never end. It’s so dreary. All the fun parts of Winter are over.

This year, even more so because we are quickly coming up one year into the pandemic. Timehop and scrolling have started to show me the last time I did things. Like get a massage (February 13), Go out to dinner (February 20), go to happy hour (February 21), and that’s hard. I miss those things. I have not eaten in a restaurant, even outside, since then. I haven’t been inside a grocery store or done any type of casual shopping. I know masks help cut down on the risks, but they aren’t foolproof, and I’ve seen what passes for a mask to some people. I have stayed isolated, with the exception of close family. This has been really hard, especially as I have watched others loosen up and become more lax. But with the new strains of COVID, I’m more convinced than ever that it is the right thing to do and what everyone should be doing. I’m tired of signs and platitudes for “essential workers” from people going out to eat in restaurants or wandering up and down the grocery store’s aisles.* No one said it was going to be easy.

And I know there really isn’t an end in sight. Vaccine rollout in the U.S. was slow to start. Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you can return to normal or, even start visiting people. I am vaguely hopeful I’ll get to swim this summer, but I try not to think about it too much.

February is the hardest month. Even when I know Spring will come, the days are growing longer, and vaccinations are working, albeit slowly. Just remembering that helps. I cannot change it. It happens every year, but somehow I forget and then remember. I have found just acknowledging it helps.

February is the hardest month. Be kind to yourselves. Find a way to let go of what you can.


*If you leave a comment explaining why you do this, why you think it’s ok or anything related, it will be not be published. This is not the place for that. Use your own platform to share that.

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