Summer is leaving and fall is setting in. What’s Rachael Shearer looking forward to? She’s made a list and is checking it more than twice.

The summer is over. Looking outside the three cubic inches of window available to my view at the lashing rain on this, the last summer Monday, I can’t help but think... Where did the time go?

All jokes aside, and in full sincerity, I can honestly say that I have nothing to show for my summer. Thankfully, my sense of humor resides somewhere in the darker corners of the world and I can just – JUST -- manage to see the funny side. Blink and you miss it.

I saw a friend post a beautiful farewell picture from sunny Thailand having spent the summer travelling abroad captioned “Best Summer Ever,” and it prompted me to rally up the great things I had done so far. Here’s how that list looks right now:

1. Began marathon training!

2. Over-did the running, injured leg quite badly, need to book physiotherapy that I can’t afford -- and quit running.

3. Lost weight! (see point #1).

4. Gained weight (see point #2).

5. Started writing my breakthrough debut novel!

6. Stopped writing my breakthrough debut novel (see point #4).

7. Opened a savings account and have saved a total of €200 (pretty impressive, I know).

8. Constantly envied what everyone else was doing.

9. Applied – unsuccessfully – for many, many things.

10. Got very into horoscopes (ascribing meaning to the chaos!!)

Summer is always meant to be something. It’s not like the other seasons where regular stuff is just motoring along like school, work, preparing for the holidays. Summer is the star of the show! The year doesn’t really start in January, it starts in September.

I know I’m not alone in fully ascribing to the academic year in spite of not partaking in any form of academia. It’s how we’re taught to treat the year from a young age. We get about 10 years off and then we have our own kids for another 25 years doing the same thing.

September is a great time to start. You’re calm and refreshed, full of vitamin D and sun-soaked out-doorsy happiness from your spicy exciting summer, and ready to take shade in leafy fall while getting reality back in gear. It’s only a few short months before magical holiday season, snow and family time.

Then January gives you a six month jet-pack of New Year’s resolutions to propel you back into the glory zone. September–January is manageable because of the summer you just had, and January–May is doable because of the amazing summer ahead.

So what happens when you’ve had a distinctly average summer and September is one week away? What in the hell can I possibly do in the next few days so that I don’t completely panic when this new school year rolls around? The list looks like this:

1. Exchange running for less bodily destructive form of exercise.

2. Stop eating stuff that makes you feel like a pile of coats.

3. Re-start writing the “breakthrough debut novel. (Side note: One thing that writers are constantly told which is incredibly annoying is that you need to just keep writing, even if it’s rubbish! Well, my advice would not be to do that as writing rubbish generally tends to perpetuate your own sense of inadequacy. I’ll come back to this next week after this list saves my entire summer).

4. Plan a trip for next weekend! My boyfriend just got a new car (yes, I am constantly singing the line from Grease – tell me more, tell me more) so my mission is to make us take advantage of Ireland’s natural beauty and to visit some of the many breathtaking sights just a stone’s throw away!

5. Keep applying for things and learn to accept rejection. “it’s all part of being an artist!” says my dad, the business man.

6. Visit a petting zoo because baby animals have magical powers.

7. Stop buying stupid stuff and save more than €200.

8. Stop looking at Facebook. Potentially even DELETE Facebook.

9. Stop comparing myself to everyone else.

The major point of interest about this September is that I’m not going back to school, but a lot of my friends are. It’s master’s season. We’re three years out of college, we’ve worked, we’ve traveled -- we’re in need of additional qualifications.

This didn’t exist for me in New York. No one ever asked me where my post-grad or master’s degree was, but here it’s a different kettle of fish. I’ve sat in job interviews where they made washy hand gestures at my CV questioning why I chose to acquire a degree in my own first language – silly me – and wondering when I was getting a bigger and better degree. Never?

So, many of my peers are going to London or different colleges in Ireland to become smarter, better, more employable humans. For me, that is not an option – at least not this year.

I spent all my money on a visa that I don’t have yet (clearly not bitter about that in the slightest) but even still, if I had the option to go back for a master’s, would I? And what would I even study?

Sure, going back to the safety net of university has a certain allure. Also there’s the issue of me quickly becoming the mediocre sibling.

My brother is going to do his master’s this year and will have it all done and dusted by the time he’s 23, making him the outstanding, exemplary and generally golden child. Even my boyfriend is beginning a job working at a university in September putting him back on the academic calendar too.

So while everyone else is getting new school books and wrapping up summer fun as they hurdle towards a seemingly promising and productive September, what’s in store for those of us who aren’t? Why is September still so daunting when there’s nothing on the horizon?

Or is that exactly it… there’s nothing on the horizon. Let me add to that list:

10. Put something on the September horizon.

Making a list of what to look forward to and new goals.iStock