As the summer hits its midpoint, the sun shining brightly, people wearing shorts and sandals, it all seems so carefree compared to the pressure of the school year. But for many teenagers, myself included, summer isn’t all fun, relaxation, or exciting adventures. Without the structure of school and the built-in social interactions of being on campus or involved in extracurricular activities, some days, and even weeks, just feel lonely.
So I put together some strategies on how to deal with the summer blues and make the most of these months of solitude.
Deal with Feelings of Isolation
It’s easy to look on social media and feel like everyone is having a great time. Lots of people are traveling, at summer programs or camp, and the pictures make everything seem perfect. But I’ve also heard people say that no matter what they’re posting, they still miss their friends, are sick of their families, and feel kind of adrift without their normal routines, as much as we complain about them during the school year.
The first step in coping with summer isolation is acknowledging and accepting our emotions. It’s okay to feel lonely or left out when our usual support system is not around. Instead of brushing these feelings aside, figure out what you need to feel more connected. Maybe it’s talking to a friend, or creating more structure in your days, or getting involved in an activity, like a sport or volunteer work, where you’ll meet other people and even expand your social circle during the school year.
Discover the Joy of Solitude
While summer isolation can be challenging, it also presents a unique opportunity for self-discovery and growth. Embracing solitude allows us to explore our interests, passions, and hobbies without distractions. It’s a time to dive into books we’ve been wanting to read, start that art project we’ve been putting off, or delve into a new sport or skill. So many of us are doing things we think we need for our college resumes, but having this extra time allows us to discover what we truly enjoy doing by ourselves, with no external agenda.
Connect with Old Friends
While school friends might be away, the summer can be an excellent time to reconnect with old friends from past years or even childhood. Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, maybe someone who has moved away and is visiting family for the summer, or someone who left for college and you haven’t seen for the past year. Rekindling old connections can be refreshing.
“So, what did you do this summer?”
A lot of people worry about what they’ll say when asked this question as school starts up again. You don’t need an exciting answer. Summer isn’t a contest, and most people exaggerate or leave in only the good parts anyway. Remember that your summer is a time for you to get to know yourself better, and you can only do that by following your own desires and letting go of the outcome.
I recently started volunteering once a week with a local organization, and I’ve met some great people through that. I’m also learning to play the guitar, something I’ve wanted to do forever but never had time, and hanging out with a friend from middle school who goes to a different high school. Summer still feels lonely sometimes, but taking these steps has turned my summer into the kind of experience I wanted it to be. You can too.