Let’s have a quick flashback to dead week. As my roommate and I were studying for finals in our room, she suddenly flung herself onto her bed and started giggling. Looking at her, I was very worried about her and I asked her what was going on. After she regained her breath, she told me that nothing was going on — she just suddenly felt so happy at the thought of going back home and enjoying the freedom of summer.
Unlike her, I used to shudder at the thought of spending summer at home. To me, the sense of freedom that summer seemed to offer was a mere mirage that would fade away soon. By the midpoint of my past summers, that freedom envisioned often ended up with me laying on my back on the sofa, staring at the ceiling and bemoaning my existence. During times such as this, I often asked myself: Why does my summer freedom always lead to boredom?
A week ago, I went to dinner one night with a friend and complained to her about my boredom. I was surprised when she told me that she didn’t feel bored at home at all. She kept on telling me how she started a personal project on costume design and signed up for various classes.
It was not until then that I realized the answer to my question. I used to envision my summer freedom as the exemption from work and the privilege of doing or not doing anything according to my will. Therefore, with a desire to fully exercise my hard-earned “freedom,” I decided to only do whatever I wanted to do at the moment. But I became a slave to my own whims by sticking to this false conception of freedom. I found myself feeling empty at the end of each day and starting to miss the busy days at school.
But what is the real freedom of summer? How do we get the most out of such freedom? How do we do away with the summer boredom lurking around the corner? If you’ve ever wondered about these questions, we at the Clog have some advice for you.
First, real freedom involves making plans and informed decisions and being able to stick to them. Planning is not only a useful skill to keep your tasks organized, but also an essential way to have control over your own life. Unlike at school, during summer you don’t have to build your plans around course schedules or make compromises for academic purposes. Summer freedom lies in the idea that you are free to set your own goals — be it learning a second language or binge-watching your favorite TV shows — and customize the best plan for yourself to accomplish these goals. Only by making a plan and sticking to this plan can you discover the experience of real summer freedom.
Second, you can pursue summer freedom by pursuing interests that you didn’t have time to develop at school. A great way to do so is to start a personal project based on your interests, instead of practical matters such as academics or money. Get out a pen and start scribbling down ideas and inspirations. Choose an idea that can keep you motivated all summer and then start building upon the idea. For example, if you like taking photographs, start a personal project by first defining your styles and direction specifically. If you decide that you want to become a travel photographer, then put down the photography textbooks and book a trip now! It is always important to build a personal project that aligns with the direction in which you’re heading — otherwise, you’ll end up doing things you don’t necessarily enjoy, thus losing your hard-earned summer freedom.
Finally, while you’re at home, sometimes the best way to avoid summer boredom and emptiness is to participate in family chores! I know that this sounds like what parents want little kids to do but believe me, taking up responsibilities is a great way to repel boredom and discover fulfillment. It stops you from being too absorbed in your inner world and allows you to direct your attention outward. By participating in simple family chores, you contribute to the household and attain a stronger sense of being part of the family, which drives away the emptiness inside. It can be as simple as organizing bookshelves or folding laundry — it’s the participation that matters.
Summer freedom or summer boredom — the decision lies in your hand. Sometimes there is a thin line between freedom and boredom and making the step to define and pursue freedom in the right way makes all the difference. We at the Clog just want to tell you, H.A.G.S!
Contact Raina Yang at [email protected].