The Paradox of Summer Choice

There’s so much to do, but you just slept in till mid-afternoon again. Here’s how to do summer right.

By Mallory Arnold, Ohio University


Being the anxious person that I am, I love summer because you have an entire three months to plan whatever you want to do or what not to do.

The first few days are spent gloating at home while your mom pores over you and your alarm clock gets a break as you tend to sleep in toward noon (or three.)

Because it’s exciting simply knowing that you have a summer planned with a million and two fun things to do, the list collects in your head, growing longer and longer everyday. Im gonna travel to Montana! Im gonna write my first Pulitzer Surprise novel! Im going to build a spaceship!

No matter how many exciting things you plan, how free your summer is, or how nice the pool water looks, you’re going to have those days where you’re downright miserable. It’s called the Summer Blues. Where you feel like you have so many things to do but you’re just not doing any of them.

Or maybe that you’re so busy with summer jobs that you have no time to do what you really want. Or quite possibly you’re so bored that you can’t wait to get back to college so you sulk inside for days.

Snap out of it and read this! If you’re sulking around the house, you need to do some reading anyways. It’s good for your mushy Summer Blue’s brain.

Be outside.

Yes it gets hot, yes it gets a little muggy, but on beautiful days you need to take advantage of the sunshine smiling down on you and get out there. If you’re bored to death, cooped up inside all day, depression can sink in quicker than one of those pool toys you go diving for.

Studies show that being outside for just 20 minutes can boost vitality levels and increase happiness. So go for a walk with your dog whose been begging you to play. Lay outside in the sun with a radio turned on and a cold Diet Coke in hand. Or better yet, go on an adventure and get a few bumps and bruises along the way.

Spend time with your family.

It amazes me how students come home from an entire school year away from their family and then try as hard as possible to not hang out with them. Do family game night! Suggest making dinner together or going out to a movie. It’s not everyday you can spend free time with the people who you love, so take advantage of that.

Try at least one new thing.

It’s easy to make a long list of new goals for the summer, but most of the time you don’t really end up getting to cross off anything. Focus on one new activity you’d like to try, and put all your effort into that.

Wanna learn archery? Go get em, Katniss.

Interested in cooking classes? Okay Rachael Ray! Trying to finish all of the Twilight series? I mean—okay. If you’re into that.

Treat Yoself.

You worked hard all year, pounded through exams and dominated your major. You’re the bomb. So you deserve to focus on yourself for once, and treat yourself to something.

Whether that’s a spa day, a day of drinking in the sunshine, or that expensive new thing that you wanted and may or may not need. This is so vital for a good summer. You need to unwind and remember that your happiness and your relaxation is most important after suffering through hair-yanking classes all year.

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Be a tourist in your own town.

How many times have you and your friends trash-talked your town and dubbed it officially “The worst place ever”? Come on, people. Look around your city and find those things it’s famous for but you’ve never put in enough effort to see.

Try the new restaurants, check out the historic sights. Climb the famous trails and visit the most haunted spots. Maybe you’ll change your mind and stop with the “grungy-too-good-for-everything-teenager-act.”

Buy a disposable camera.

With all the fun that you’ll be having this summer, you’ll definitely want to document it. But eventually you find yourself staring at a phone, distracted while you’re trying to do something or being worried about what picture will look best on Instagram.

Buy a cheap disposable camera so you’re not afraid of it breaking and you’re not focused on social media, but capturing a moment that made you happy. You can print everything out at the end of the summer and laugh with a bunch of your buddies.

Be a kid for a day.

Think back to all those childhood summers that were some of the best long days of your life. When you spent the whole day gallivanting outside in your bare feet until the sun went down and mom called you in for dinner and some ice cream.

Channel the inner kid in you! Hit up the nearest water park and have a noodle fight with your friends. Challenge your siblings to a game of basketball—winner has to eat a whole worm. (True story.) Reminisce about summer camp and set up a bonfire with marshmallows and s’mores galore.

Never pass up drinking a glass of wine outside.

No explanation required.

Just breathe.

Honestly. This one is serious. Sometimes you’re so busy running around, working hard to earn money or working hard to have fun, that you simply forget to breathe. And I mean really inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth—not the short simply breaths we take to get through the day.

Yes, summer to-do-lists can be fun and a good thing to have, but if you focus your entire summer worrying about checking off things that you think will make you happy you’re going to find yourself faking a smile at the end of the day.

Follow your own agenda. Yes, work is important. If you have internships or some other job, go conquer it like the king or queen you are. But don’t forget to enjoy yourself while doing it. You don’t have to go to spectacular heights to feel accomplished when fall comes around. You just have to feel (say it with me, guys) HAPPY.