As fun as summer is, it can be really anxiety-inducing. With all of the freedom we longed for during the hours and hours of class time and schoolwork the past year, the summer should feel like a chance to take a break from rigor or structure; however, with newfound free time also comes a feeling as if we are never doing enough to make the most of our time.
Every waking hour when we aren’t living our most Instagram-worthy, coming-of-age movie resemblant life feels like a failure. Especially since this year will be the “summer of the post-vaccine” and since most of us were trapped at home last summer, there’s even more pressure to make these next few months count.
So, I’ve compiled a list of fun things to do this summer to take off some of the pressure to plan *the* summer.
1. Make a collaborative playlist with a friend and blast it with the windows down during sunset.
I seriously don’t know if there’s anything more cliché than going through a tunnel or down an interstate with the wind in your hair and Tongue Tied by Grouplove playing, but it’s the epitome of summer for a reason: it’s fun, it’s easy (if you or your friends can’t drive yet, find somewhere fun to ride your bikes and sync up your headphones!), and it’s one of the most exciting activities after you finally get your license.
And, you don’t have to live right near the Pacific Coast Highway to do this–even the smallest of towns or the ugliest of roads works because what makes it a fun time is the music and the company.
2. Hang out in the park with a hammock and good food.
Hammocks are surprisingly cheap but make for a really fun way to spend time at the park. You can also play spike ball, slackline, toss around a volleyball, or read.
3. Find a neighboring town and explore.
When we think of visiting new places, we think of planes (or at least a road trip). However, there’s so much to see near us that we haven’t taken advantage of.
Even the smallest towns have interesting, quirky downtown areas to explore. Chances are you’ll find something exciting, and it’s never a bad idea to explore something new.
4. Go to the fair.
Not all towns have a fair, but if you are lucky enough to live somewhere that does, you should definitely take advantage of it. They’re a great place to hang out with friends and even meet new people who you wouldn’t have otherwise.
5. Go cliff jumping!
Cliff jumping is probably my favorite thing to do in the summer. Obviously this’ll vary based on where you live, but you can scour the internet for somewhere within 30 minutes of you where there’s a ledge to jump off of into water (safely, of course).
6. Find a new workout routine.
With our mornings now freer, the summer is the perfect time to develop a new workout routine that is fun and enjoyable. Whether you try a new class like pilates or Soul Cycle, find a perfect new fitness Youtuber, or finally pick up running like you’ve said you would for months (yes I am calling myself out), finding some sort of structured, disciplined self-improvement is nice to balance out the freedom of summer.
7. Watch the sunrise (or the sunset).
8. Go night swimming.
For some reason, swimming at night is a totally different experience than swimming during daylight. Personally, I think heated pools would probably be better than a lake or the ocean, for both safety and temperature reasons.
Reading is so much more enjoyable when it’s not mandated by school. Find a book by a politician or public figure you admire, dig into an engaging piece of fiction, or learn more about something scientific that fascinates you.
It feels unenjoyable, but after a few minutes of pretending you enjoy reading, you’ll honestly start to like it.
I hope this list gives you some fun ideas and quells any anxiety surrounding the pressure of making summer as perfect as possible.
Remember that social media and movies show highlight reels of one's summer, so it's perfectly normal for not every single instance of June, July, and August to be prime candidates for the Instagram explore page.
Summer is meant to be fun: the second we let go of trying to make it perfect is the second we can genuinely enjoy ourselves. Now get off of the Internet and go have fun!!