When we think of the ideal summer, for most of us, the picture that comes to mind is generally the same. One vision of the perfect summer involves beach parties, tan bodies, Instagram-worthy vacations or road trips, music festivals and summer love. Another summer archetype is an ambitious internship in your respective career field. Maybe your ideal summer involves sleeping in, watching Netflix, catching up on hobbies or updating your blog with UC Berkeley-themed content (OK, OK — maybe that last one’s just us). If anything listed above comes to mind at the thought of a “perfect” summer, you shouldn’t be surprised.
The idea of a “perfect” summer has become well defined by myriad cliches, unsurprising and unoriginal. Every year, as the summer months approach, the cliches are everywhere we look. Summer-themed episodes of TV shows and advertisements for summer products (i.e. bathing suits and cold drinks perfect for hot weather) take over the media. There’s even an entire movie genre dedicated to beach settings and/or summer shenanigans — “The Sandlot,” “The Parent Trap,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Dirty Dancing” and “The Endless Summer,” just to name a few. Of course, being one of the most influential forms of media, social media plays a huge role in perpetuating summer cliches. You probably can’t scroll through your Instagram feed or check your friends’ Snapchat stories without the typical summer aesthetic of warm-weather clothing, outdoor adventures or travel pictures.
So when we hear “Have a good summer!” — “HAGS” — we have a pretty clear idea of what a “good” summer looks like. We revert to the cliches. We turn to the movies and our friends to see what qualifies as a good summer, subconsciously absorbing the kinds of lifestyles there are to keep up with. Summer cliches have become summer standards. There is a part of us that feels like we have to be slapping an impressive internship onto our resume or engaging in some kind of activity that should be shot with a GoPro. Then there’s a part of us that feels above the cliches and just wants to read novels while sipping tea, or eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos while binge watching Netflix. Honestly, we just want to have a good answer in three months when people ask, “How was your summer?”
When the time comes three months from today, and someone asks you the question, just be real. Maybe your summer was a little cliche, and maybe it wasn’t at all. The real secret to having a good summer is the universal problem solver: You do you!
If you want to go on a fun vacation with your family, go! Maybe you can’t afford that vacation — that’s OK. Go on a local hike instead. Don’t like hiking? Don’t leave your bed: You finally have time to sleep and/or rewatch every season of your favorite TV show. Don’t have that kind of time? Maybe you’re putting in work at summer school or your job, and that’s cool, too. Your summer doesn’t suck if it doesn’t look like someone else’s. Your summer isn’t better or worse than anyone else’s just because you did or did not have a certain experience. This is just another season, not a competition.
Summer is the time of year when we typically have more free time than we do during the semester. How you spend that time and whom you spend it with depends on your lifestyle. You know what you want and what you need, and you won’t be able to get exactly that by trying to mirror anyone else’s summer. Evaluate what you want to accomplish this summer, set a goal, and figure out what you want to get out of these next few months. Set your own standards, meet your own needs, and, most importantly, have a good summer!