Yet another summer is coming to a close and, as always, absolutely nothing has gone the way I expected it to. But, that is to be anticipated when you try and define what's yet to come. The bottom line is that the only reason this summer didn't live up to my expectations was because I had expectations. If nothing else, this was yet another opportunity for learning and some kind of growth, right?
1. Enjoy being a student
Following my second semester of feeling like I didn't do enough, I was more than ready to make up for it in the summer by working two jobs: interning at a digital marketing agency and being a waitress at a cute brunch spot. I don't know who I thought I was thinking that I wanted to work non-stop. All those times my mom told me to relax and stop trying to work so much because I'll be working for the rest of my life... well, she was right (like always). Don't get me wrong, I learned a lot from both of those jobs but adulthood is SCARY. The second my coworkers talked about health benefits and I realized that if I'm sick I'm faced with fees and handling insurance policies and not my mother's love and affection, I realized that adulthood really ain't so hot. I used to wonder how people could just not do anything all summer because personally, I get really antsy when I'm not doing anything. There is absolutely nothing wrong with balancing work with having a good time. There are so many people out there who landed great jobs without having a ticker-tape parade of internships on their resume. Once this time passes, it's gone. Go ahead, enjoy yourself.
2. Stop being so hard on yourself
Everyone who actively talks to me knows how much I loved my summer 2018 self (hint: a lot). For the first time, I felt like I truly had it together and was just an absolute fireball of motivation, health, and self-growth. Obviously, this kind of energy couldn't possibly be sustainable over an extended period of time and it fizzled out- bringing us to this summer. I held my past self on a pedestal and beat myself up about how different I had become since then. What was once strong motivation and optimism was replaced with bouts of being creatively and emotionally drained. Instead of helping myself up and moving forward, I kind of just sat in this slump wondering what had gone so wrong. That is until I accepted the reality of it all. I realized that summer 2018 Alex was long gone and she had been for some time. She was never coming back and that's okay because since then she learned a lot of new things and met some pretty significant people who changed her life and how she saw the world. Growth isn't linear, and sometimes the setbacks are the very thing to send you into the next stage of progress.
3. Self-care should always be self-prescribed
When you think of self-care, what do you think of? Perhaps face masks or a healthy meal plan. You aren't wrong, but you are missing another huge aspect that self-care addresses: mental health and well-being. Another aspect of my summer 2018 self that I held as a standard was my health routine. Because I was going to the gym every day and eating clean, physically, I had never felt better. When I started to feel a little out of it I turned to living that healthy lifestyle to lift my mood. It didn't work. That's because I assumed putting emphasis on my physical health would magically heal my mental health. Truth is, the two are not as connected as you may think. Self-care is about doing things that simply make you happy and being completely honest about how you're feeling. Of course, you should still be forming habits that are ultimately beneficial to yourself, but keep this in mind: self-care has absolutely nothing to do with strictly following someone else's routine and everything to do with finding the perfect balance that suits your current self.
If you were to take anything from this article, I'd hope it's that we will never stop growing and learning and making mistakes. That isn't such a bad thing though because it's what makes us better in the end.
Summer 2019 Alex out.