Restless and Surrounded - Surviving Summer Break
To the budding freshman having just completed the four dragging years of high school that either stood for the best time, or the worst time of their life, college seems like the most magical event in history. Moving out and away from the parents (most of the time anyway), closing the door to most authority, assuming the role of primary thinker in the wake of hardly caring professors, and pretty much more freedom than one knows what to do with. Take it from someone who knows. College will not disappoint if this is what you are expecting. However, a word of caution; all of thee spectacular attributes are closely related to their counters. No parents equals more responsibility, the authorities become more real if you aren't careful (i.e. the police). Education requires a lot of caring and if you don't then you can't really expect anyone else to care about how you do on that chemistry test. And lastly, freedom. More freedom than is required for normal living. You can go anywhere, see anyone, and consume anything so long as you have the balls to do it, but if being smart is what got you into college, then don't let all those smarts go to waste just because someone isn't constantly breathing down your neck. College requires educated thought, which is kind of the whole point. This essay is about the break between all that freedom, the chasm if you will. Summer Break.
What was the best part about the first year of college?
From the Dorm to the Bedroom
The past year was a mixture of blurry eyed treks to the bathroom all the way down the hall, coffee binges at the cafe, mind numbing weekends at the senior's off campus house, and very mediocre food. The adjustment into college can be rough, and poor planning often adds to the stress of taking off in a completely different direction, but coming home after that first year can be much worse. For those of you that truly enjoyed your first year of college, you understand what this means. All those freedoms just seem to melt away and suddenly your parents want to know where you are 24/7, your bedroom must stay tidied, the dishes must be put in the dishwasher, and of course most if not all of the liberating experiences like underage drinking and other questionable activities must stop. Life stops for three months, and all you want to do is go back to school, which high school taught you was insanity. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. For those of you that are, as I call it, Restless and Surrounded, here are some tips that I have found keep complete implosion at bay for the duration of your summer sentence.
#1 - Drive
Hopefully you have a car. And a license. If you don't, I'm truly sorry because this is my sure fire way of escaping for even just a couple of minutes when you feel like you are about to go postal. Just get in the car and go to the gas station, or to Dunkin, or anywhere. Blast the music, roll down the windows (it's summer after all), buckle your seat belt, and drive. This is also a curse though. Often times I feel like I might just keep driving, away without a plan and that typically lands you in Binghamtom NY, and that's never better. Also, gas costs money which leads me to my next tip.
#2 - Work
You just fried your brain for two semesters, all you want to do is lay in bed until 3 o'clock in the afternoon, but trust me that gets old quick. I would line up a job that starts maybe a week after you come home. That way you get to decompress, then have something to do when you get bored. Having something to do, having a plan, waking up for something and coming home with some money is one of the best ways to beat the summer blues. Save some money so that you can spend it at school and focus on the things that matter. Don't get me wrong, working at the supermarket or McDonald's probably freaking sucks, but money is awesome and most eighteen year old's can't make money twiddling their thumbs.
#3 - Organize
Remember that week you took off before you start your new summer job? Use it for this. Sleep the first few days, then put all of your college stuff away and make space for life in your over stocked bedroom. Don't sleep and live in a sea of stuff that could fill three dorm rooms. Put it away and restore your life to a workable state. It isn't about appeasing the parental units, it's about preserving sanity. Make life pleasant at home wherever you can because YOU have the power to do it. Enable some of that new found independence and keep your life intact.
#4 - Indulge
Don't completely cut yourself off from the things you got used to last year. Eat a chocolate bar at two in the morning, drink some coffee before bed, have a cigarette, sneak a beer. Remind yourself that even summer is temporary. Getting rid of all of the things that you enjoyed at school just leads to total rebellion and restlessness. Be responsible though. Don't go nuts, home or at school for that matter. Just don't let it be all or nothing.
#5 - Communicate
Don't shut out your parents. Let them know respectfully that you are making good decisions and that you need to go out at one in the morning with your friends to Walmart and back because you just need to do it. Hopefully they will realize that you are capable of making responsible decisions, and if they don't feel that way maybe the decisions you are making aren't very responsible at all. Basically, check yourself and if you are doing something you know is wrong, don't. They love you and want you to be safe, so just tell them when you get to Sally's and let them know you are sleeping over so they don't leave the door unlocked and the porch lights on all night while they lay awake in the dark. Respect yourself, and respect the people you live with otherwise the next three months will be absolute torture.
Summer will end, and soon enough you will be wishing you were home and not doing homework until three A.M. Hopefully this essay helped you survive your summer vacation. Just think, maybe next year you could get a fancy internship and not come home at all...