As stress-ridden students with ever-growing sleep deprivation, we wish for the free days of summer with every bit of energy we have left. We count down the days, finish up final projects, say goodbye to our teachers, and walk through the school doors expecting the next three months of our lives to be a taste of paradise, but with great expectations can come great disillusionment. So when you find yourself for the fifth consecutive day sitting alone in front of the TV with nothing left to binge-watch and the sun beaming in through the window reminding you of all the fun you thought you would have this summer, what do you do?
I always start the first week of summer with immense optimism and by the end of that week of sleeping until 1PM and watching TV 10 hours a day I find myself more miserable than three weeks ago when I was neck deep in final projects. So I push myself off the couch and get to work. The best summers I have had were the ones where I volunteered at a summer school four days a week and took a nap as soon as I got home because I knew I had done something with my summer. Through trial and error, I have come up with a few tips to make the most of your summer.
- Commit to an activity with an established schedule. This can be anything from a couple of camps, stay-away or day, to a commitment to help out at the Humane Society once a week. Having things to do gives you something to look forward to which can help those slow weeks go by a little faster and make your summer feel worthwhile when it inevitably comes to an end. The added feature to consider is a connection to an outside agency. Committing to activities you can’t drop out of forces you to get off the couch and interact with people, something truly beneficial to a student who has gone from constant social interaction seven hours a day to almost complete isolation at home. This summer I am volunteering as a classroom helper at a summer school for refugees between my bouts of traveling and college visits.
- Take the initiative and contact your friends. Without the constant contact at school, it is easy for friendships to go on hiatus in the summer. If you want to spend time with friends, sometimes you have to make the first move. People are often nervous and unsure during the summer. They sometimes don’t know their friends’ schedules or how to interact outside of a school setting. Sometimes, they’re just waiting for someone to call. Take a chance and be the one to ask if they want to hang out. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and chances are they are just as lonely as you are. This one is hard for me. I personally set myself a reasonable goal (since I am an introvert) of connecting with at least two friends in person each month.
- Start a mini project. Is there anything you are super passionate about but never have the time to do during the school year? This is your chance! We often fill up our schedules with lots of plans for the summer: things we want to accomplish but never have, like writing a short story or learning to play the piano. All too often we get a few steps into a number of projects and end up finishing none. This summer choose one, commit to spending 30 minutes on it a day, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two, it’s summer after all. This summer I am trying to complete a novella between all my summer homework.
- Get out of the house! Above all, take care of yourself. After staying inside for days on end, your home can start to feel like a prison. There is a reason for all the hype around summer, and that’s the sun! Take a walk or a bike ride and enjoy the sunshine. Move your body or just take a picnic and relax at the park. Enjoy the season for what it has to offer and the freedom it provides. I like taking my dog for a walk everyday. It’s good for him and me.
Don’t let your summer slip away, make it your own, because one day we won’t have a summer that means 3 months of no work!