Let me explain. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt an immense pressure to really make my Saturday count. I’ve been working in full-time, 9-5 jobs for the past four years. When I was fresh out of university in the North of England and began my first real job, I quickly learned that Friday nights were an exhale after the working week; a chance to unwind (often with the help of a glass of sauvignon blanc) and look ahead to the endless landscape of my weekend.
Saturday Scaries (noun): The feeling of fear and pressure to be busy on a Saturday, especially when you’re single and feel like everyone else has plans.
Controversial opinion: I’m a lover of Sunday nights. They’re the one night of the week I feel no guilt for wallowing in a hot bath until it goes tepid, and allow myself to make a long, lavish meal while ignoring my mounting WhatsApp messages. By that point, I’ll have probably done my grocery shopping, binge-watched about 12 episodes of The Fall, FaceTimed my mum and finally done my washing. Sunday nights bring me a sense of calm; of not needing to be anywhere or do anything social. The thought of Saturday, on the other hand, gives me heart palpitations.
Saturdays were reserved for having ALL THE FUN. They were made to be spent with friends, gossiping in dimly-lit bars, filling up at a food market or going out dancing. They were the designated day for doing something note-worthy; working on my side-hustle, going on a date, getting up at the crack of dawn to go to a yoga class and for posting the evidence on Instagram.
Now that I’m a little older and have since moved to London, I’ve felt the pressure to make my Saturdays meaningful increase ten-fold. I’m in the capital, with its blinding lights and late-night bars and endless green spaces made for having barbecues with a gaggle of mates – and I feel like I should have exciting plans every single weekend.
For Mehek, it was the move to London that caused her fear of Saturdays, too: “I remember when I moved here two years ago, I used to worry about what weekend stories I’d have to prepare for Monday morning at work.” She felt she had to embellish her weekends, telling me “It involved a lot of me saying “Oh, I went out with my friends (friend) for drinks (dinner).”
I’ve also reached the age when the majority of my friends are coupled up. I’m 25, and am fully aware that by absolutely no means am I ‘over the hill.’ I’m just currently in the twilight zone when lots of my friends are still with their university boyfriends, or have finished their bout of travelling around the world and somehow brought back a partner in the process.
When I reach out to mates to make plans and quell the panic of making Saturday count, I’m often hit with a “sorry, I’m heading down with Dan to his parents’ house in Devon for the weekend. What about Tuesday?”, or “I’m going to my boyfriend’s best friend’s engagement party – next Thursday, though?”. Saturdays are reserved for boyfriends, baby showers and trips to the Home Counties, which leaves me (currently single) at a complete loose end.
When your friends are coupled up and you aren’t, it’s quite easy to slip into feelings of loneliness. Usually, I don’t feel this way and I quite like being single, but when it comes to Saturdays, I completely lose my rationality. When I was with my last boyfriend and we were both working during the week, Saturday was often the only time we had an opportunity to properly see each other. I’ve been on the other side of things, I get it, and I don’t resent my friends at all. But now that I’m single, where does that leave me? Riddled with anxiety, to be honest.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my own company when I choose it and I’m someone who definitely needs alone-time to re-charge. I’m not shy of going to art galleries on my own or of spending hours in a coffee shop solo, save for a good book. But it does get draining, when this in-built fear of Saturday having to be the BEST DAY EVER is compounded by the fact that your friends just aren’t always available.
For Megan, who is currently working from home, the pandemic has made her Saturday Scaries worsen, “I’m definitely someone who experiences the classic “Sunday Fear” on a Saturday. Now that I’m not seeing my colleagues everyday or really anyone during the week, I put a lot of pressure on myself to have Saturday plans. I try to make sure I have plans made by the Monday before, and if it gets to Wednesday or Thursday and I still have nothing in the diary – I start to feel really anxious and lonely. I convince myself that I have no friends.”
For Izzi, who is in a relationship, she experiences the Saturday Scaries in a slightly different way: “I feel pressure to fill my weekends, especially now that I’m working from home. When you’re in a relationship, things can be tricky in terms of balancing seeing your friends and your partner. I have to book my Saturdays up really far in advance.” Feeling stretched between her friends and her boyfriend isn’t all that makes a Saturday tense for Izzi, though:
“When I look at my calendar, I feel panicked and worry that I don’t have time to do life admin. But even when I reserve Saturday for myself to do these things, I’ll scroll through Instagram in the evening and immediately be hit by FOMO when I see people out together.”
So what can be done about the Saturday Scaries? Izzi says she likes to remember how much she relished quiet Saturdays during lockdown: “I learned to slow down and weekends became more relaxing. I’d have a slow Saturday, with a bath in the morning, then read my book in bed and maybe go for a walk. To begin with, I was desperate to go out and make plans, but I learned to love it and it’s something I promised myself that I would continue doing in the future.”
For me, I’ve taken to physically writing a list of things I’d like to do that day. It could be as simple as walking down to my local coffee shop or going out to buy ingredients to make myself a really nice dinner, but I’ll always try to get out of the flat. Limiting my social media use on quiet days has also been a game changer, so I’m not spending the day spiralling and becoming envious of other people’s plans.
Whether we’re single or in a relationship, it seems as though lots of us experience the pressure to be busy on a Saturday. Fear of having no plans is something that lots of us feel, and there’s comfort in knowing that we’re not alone.