It happens nearly every year. Around April, as end of the year projects, papers, and performances start coming to a close everyone starts to ask: So what comes next? This year, as the inevitable question came around and I heard my friends listing off all of their summer plans I couldn’t help but wonder, was I not doing enough? I had a couple of projects lined up and certainly what I felt was enough to keep me busy, but I felt like a slacker in comparison to some of my peers and their packed summer schedules.
Today, I had plans. They included spending the morning at work, followed by locking myself in a cold, dark practice room for hours to plunk away at a piano…and then I stepped outside. It was a glorious day. The sun was shining, a solid eighty degrees, and there was a nice breeze to defuse any potentially too hot weather. It was one of those days that actually makes me grateful to live in the Midwest. And the prospect of spending my entire day inside sounded nothing short of a deathtrap.
So instead, I grabbed my laptop and the music I was supposed to be studying, and set up camp outside at my favorite coffee shop to be productive while not wasting such a beautiful day. And I realized how grateful I was to have the opportunity to do that.
In a time when half of my friends are splitting their time between internships and jobs and meetings and classes, I would like to propose the idea that it’s ok to let summer break…be a BREAK.
I understand the importance that summertime can hold in terms of allowing us enough space in our schedules to get a start on things and take advantage of opportunities that will set us up to be in prime position when the beginning of next school year comes. But we also have summer break for a reason, and I’d like to think it’s not just so that we can do more work.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the past year over-committing yourself, saying yes to everything, and burning yourself out physically and emotionally. Even if you’re doing something you love, it can still be incredibly draining to be jumping from project to project during the year without adequate time to recharge.
While I respect those who have filled their summers to the brim with career-building opportunities, I think the key to enjoying your summer is finding a balance. The time in our lives where we have the option to choose sitting outside to enjoy a sunny day instead of working is running short. Even if you have a busy summer, find opportunities when you can just take a trip to the beach, go enjoy a meal outdoors with your friends, read a book on your porch, or do some yoga in the park.
Whatever it is that will help you allow yourself to use this time off to actually feel like some time off, find a way to do it. If you don’t allow yourself time to recharge you may find yourself more burnt out when school starts in August than you were when school ended in May.