Summer is the time of year that everyone seems to look forward to the most. It is flip flops, tank tops and bathing suits. It is sleeping in until noon with no consequences. It is soaking up the sun on the beach while reading In Style. It is bonfires, concerts, and trips to the pool galore.
However, summer is not a time that I look forward to as much as I used to. Do not get me wrong; I love summer — it is probably my favorite season. It is when my birthday is, when I get to take several vacations and spend time with my family, when my life is carefree and I do not have to worry about school or grades or drama at all. Yet, it is not as much fun as it used to be for me, for somewhat of a sad reason: I do not have many friends at home.
I grew apart from many of my school friends in the last few years of high school, focusing more on schoolwork and planning to save my social priorities for college. While I have many amazing friends from college, I live in Northern Virginia and my college is right outside of Boston. I am the only student from my high school who goes to my university, and I have very few friends from college who live close enough to me to hang out on a regular basis. If you know me, I am very extroverted — I am the type who needs to be around people 24/7; thus, not having many friends from home during the summer is somewhat of a struggle. I usually have sufficient social interaction from my summer job or internship, but I still feel sad when I go out to lunch alone, when I go to the pool and watch other teenagers hanging out with their best friends while I sit with my family, when I want to have a big birthday celebration and I have very few friends who can actually come.
This actually makes me feel somewhat insecure. When I think about all the friends I have made in college, I am so proud of myself. I realize how much I have grown out of my personal bubble since high school, and I wish everyone from my high school could witness that. But with minimal friends living close to me, I am still spending much time alone or with my family. I live in a small county — I see people from my childhood constantly, and each time I run into them during the summer, I honestly worry what they think of me. I worry that they think I am the same girl from high school, the girl with barely any friends who is forced to hang out by herself.
However, there is one good thing from not having many friends at home during the summer — I have become so close with my family. I began to realize this since mid-high school, when I started to drift apart from my high school friends. While I have always been close to my family, they have truly become my best friends over the summer. The lack of friends helps me to observe the value in the little activities I do with my family — shopping with my mom, lunch dates with my dad, driving with my brother to and from work everyday and watching movies with my sister. I had a moment of revelation last summer when I realized that my sister, who is seven years younger than me, had truly become one of my best friends. I realized how much time I had missed spending with her over the year while I was at school, and noticed how she matured. In addition, family vacations are my favorite part of the whole summer. I can take a deep breath, and understand that it is a vacation. It signifies spending time with my extended family and enjoying every minute, regardless of the presence of friends.
Luckily, I have more plans to hang out with friends this summer. I have made many more friends in school this past year who live fairly close to me. In the age of interning, I can meet with many friends from college who have obtained internships in D.C. I even have friends who have said they wanted to come visit me this summer, and I have made plans to see those who live near my family’s annual vacation spots. I also have been able to spend more time with the few, yet special friends I already have from home.
The thought of having more friends to relax with this summer has already made me more excited for it than I have been for summer in awhile, but I have been nonetheless grateful for the bonds that summer memories have created between me and my family. Maybe summer is meant for that — while you are apart from many of your friends, due to geography or vacations or camp or whatever — it is an opportunity for you to discover yourself more, and draw closer to people immediately around you. In "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (one of my all time favorite books), when four best friends are separated for the summer for the first time, each of them finds out more about themselves, meets people who change their lives and grows in unique ways. I am hoping that this summer is a time to do the same, growing closer to my family and other friends from home. I also desire to learn more about myself and to grow through all my experiences, creating numerous memories to share once I return back to school in August. And of course, I will watch "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" with my sister, because my summer would not be complete without it.