Summer free time is me time

Grace Tseng, Sports Editor

As Phineas and Ferb so accurately quantify, in the 104 days of summer vacation, the annual problem for our generation is finding a proper way to spend them. However, this sentiment isn’t just limited to maximizing adventures, but also to maximizing productivity. 

It seems as though everyone around me has extensive summer plans. From attending prestigious summer programs, getting internships, attending community college courses, working summer jobs, studying at prep camps to boost standardized test scores or juggling multiple of these commitments at once, summertime feels less like an opportunity to recharge from the strenuous year of school than another opportunity to get ahead on college applications. 

Knowing how my peers are spending their days, I can’t help but feel guilty for spending a single day binging shows on Netflix or going out with friends. 

Taking the chance to have well-deserved rest simply feels wrong when everyone around me continues to work at maximum capacity and productivity, and it feels as though I shouldn’t deserve to feel fatigue when no one else around me does. 

In valuing the downtime summer provides us with, I’ve been able to recharge my battery after the fatigue of an entire school year by picking up small hobbies like painting or reading. Though these hobbies may seem insignificant in respect to my college applications or level of academic achievement, they help me maintain a balance between work and school both in and out of the school year. 

I feel as though I’ve put my mental health on the backburner because it’s so rare to see other high school students taking time out of their days to put focus on this matter.

It can be difficult to break out of the mindset of constantly chasing academic success during the school year, but continuing to apply academic pressures on myself during the summer only keeps the cycle going. 

I can feel embarrassed to admit that my plans for the summer are to stay home or to potentially travel with my family, despite the fact that my summer will provide me with different values regardless. 

Traveling overseas and being able to immerse myself in a place with a language completely different from the one I am surrounded by each day at home allows me the privilege of gaining cultural perspective, and simply staying at home is an opportunity to pay more attention to self-care. 

However, in an effort to keep up with those around me, I’ve found myself applying to more summer programs than my schedule can physically accommodate.

Of course, I don’t mean to undermine the virtues of attending summer camps. Being able to study in a structured educational environment and having the opportunity to learn skills from professionals in the industry, can be an opportunity like no other. However, aside from these skills, there are many more options that provide just the same amount of value.

Visiting a non-academic summer camp brings its own set of learning experiences to the table. For one, attending a sleep-away camp is where I attribute many of my skills in having self-discipline and autonomy. In having the full responsibility to look after myself and my belongings, being able to fully control my sleep schedule, and even having fractional control over my personal finances, attending programs over the summer offers me a skill set unlike anything I can learn in a classroom. 

Overall, as much as I value academic success like other students here at Westview, I wish there were more importance given to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for not devoting my two-month vacation to studying endlessly and I certainly shouldn’t feel guilty for spending my summers enjoying the process of picking up new hobbies like how to play the kalimba or how to crochet.