As children, most of us looked forward to summer break. After winter break, we would count the number of days left of school. Summer was the best. You were able to sleep in, hang out with your friends all day long, play in the sprinklers, go to water parks and all of the other activities summer brought to us.
However, as we got older, some of us may have done summer school during the break, had practices for whatever sport we played or got a part-time job. Maybe there was still time to go on that Hawaii trip with the family and fit in time to have endless sleepovers. But then came applying for colleges and building a resume. By the time the senior year of high school started, two groups of people were made — those who are going to college and those who weren’t.
Summer breaks were never the same once college started. Once college started, then came applications for jobs — even it was for the summer — and internships. Building one’s resume became top priority. Which on the surface makes sense, but when looked at closely doesn’t seem the most realistic.
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When you start college, you either have decided your major or you haven’t. Then when sophomore year comes around you either have decided your major, switched your major, added a minor or overall altered your initial college plan. As you get into sophomore year and start to connect with others more, there are individuals who’ve had their life planned out since before college started and have internships lined up. Then there are others who don’t, who are still trying to figure out what works best for them — but what’s the rush?
Both groups to an extent have no idea what they are doing in life. Both groups are just doing their best to figure out where they stand — just taking different directions with it.
Honestly, how are we supposed to have our life planned out before most of us are not 100% financially independent? Yes, it’s important to take on more responsibility and speak to advisors and professors to help plan your possible future career, but it shouldn’t be necessarily stressed about and take over your entire life.
This is not just for mental health reasons. It’s important to take time to rest and refocus, and that’s what summer break was meant to be after nine months of school before college. That’s how it should be after the nine months of classes we have in college. You should take time to explore and try new things when you have the time. For us who chose the college route, summer break is the best time to do it. Go on that Europe trip, road trip throughout the U.S., take that writing class you’ve always been interested in doing. Find out that maybe your science major isn’t for you, or that your English major was made for you.
During the class session in college, you’re taking classes, working a part-time job, participating in extracurricular activities — all while trying to also have a personal life. At the same time as all of that, there’s the stress of preparing for life after college. There’s not a lot of time to fit in other interests you may want to pursue. After nine months of classes, summer hits and it's another three months of that internship that’s supposed to help you get that career you want after college or working a part-time job to save up for that apartment in the fall and be able to buy groceries.
Having the time and being financially stable to do such things like traveling or getting involved in activities isn’t possible for everyone. A lot of individuals can’t take time off from working, which is a social problem in itself. However, on days one doesn’t have work or has some free time, take advantage of that the best you can.
Let’s be real, some people can have four internships in college but not get the job they were striving for after college, and others may have had few or none, but landed in their dream. There’s also the fact that in 20 years we all may be in another career because our initial plan didn’t work out, but that’s a whole other conversation.
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After college is when we’re supposed to be applying for our career jobs and building a life. Once we’re in our career there’s a chance there won’t be time for that trip or class to take, so why waste the time we have when we’re young stressing about that future career that isn’t a full proof guarantee? We’re still teenagers and entering our 20s. These are the years that we’re supposed to try, fail, look back and laugh at ourselves.
As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Natalie Fitzgibbons (she/her) is a junior standing studying journalism with a minor in American Studies.