As summer fades, the sunny state of mind does not
September 21, 2016
As the sweltering heat of August gave way to an even warmer September, I was in a continual state of sweatiness that had nothing to do with the weather. Typically, I do not dread the beginning of school, especially now when I love the classes I am enrolled in. Lately, however, I have come to dread the question, “So how was your summer?” It's a question which I am pretty sure has to be the most repeated one on every campus at the start of a new school year. Before you ridicule me for being frustrated with what I realize is an innocent and friendly question, let me explain. For me, summer is a time of secret solitude, a break, and by answering this harmless query it almost feels that my summer is no longer my summer anymore.
Again, let me explain. In a time where almost nothing is private or secret anymore there is hardly any opportunity for something to be just yours and yours alone. All I need to do is simply check Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to keep up with what my friends, celebrities and total strangers are doing right that second. And sometimes I hate that it is that easy. I am currently taking a break from posting on Instagram for this very reason.
My summers consist of June slipping silently into July which slowly eases into August without too much noticeable change in my routine, which is exactly the way I like it. Summer is a time when I wear glasses more days than contacts, go makeup-free and even forget that jeans exist. I am rarely seen in public without giant sunglasses and wild, uncombed hair swinging around my shoulders and obscuring my face. This lazy “disguise” makes me feel a bit more unnoticed when I have to run tedious errands. This summer in particular I turned into Lauren the Recluse 2.0 - a side effect of coming back after a whole semester spent studying abroad.
There are people around me who are brimming with stories of the parties they went to, vacations they took and the many items crossed off of many to-do lists. I do not want to divulge that this summer I did not do everything I had planned or that my every waking moment was not packed with activities, and I’m okay with that. I worry sometimes that if my response to The Question is an honest response to what I actually did this summer, or didn’t do, people will inadvertently think I am…boring. Sometimes I dislike the “What did you do this summer?” question because I do not want to answer a question that makes me feel that I need to have other people validate the choices I have made for myself.
This all sounds a bit hostile, and perhaps you cannot understand why anyone would feel so strongly about not sharing something as innocuous as what they did during their summer vacation. I want to stress I bear no ill will if you want to tell me every detail of your summer, or if like me, you also wish to not say anything at all about your own break. What I am really trying to say is that I just plainly want to make a case for holding onto this summer state of mind that I feel gets lost as the bright heat of summer fades into the chill and gloom of fall.
Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.