During Villanova's Freshman Orientation, I remember meeting with our orientation groups for the first time. Our orientation counselors asked us to go around in a circle and share the best thing we did during our summer breaks. As we made our way around the circle, I heard stories of people traveling to Italy, to Greece, to Turks and Caicos... And then it came full circle back to me. I said, "I worked all summer".
I knew that some of the other kids had obviously had jobs, too, but it felt strange knowing that I was basically one of the only ones in that whole group who didn't get to take an extravagant vacation over the summer. When I thought back to my summer, though, I didn't feel like it had been a summer wasted. I felt, more than anything, that it had been a summer for me to grow and to learn more about myself. I would spend 12 hours of the day on my feet, working with other people, going nonstop. I never thought that I would be doing this, let alone doing it at 18 years old.
Flash forward to now, and I am still 18 years old. As of this very moment, I have had three different jobs, two of which are food service. I learned a lot about myself over the past few years, and what I've learned is that I like to work. I like to be able to support myself without having to ask for help from my parents. When I talk about it with my parents, I tell them that when I turned 18, I was given more freedom, and thus more responsibility. But I don't think that turning 18 means that you can just come home whenever you want and buy scratch tickets that probably won't win you any money. I think that with those exciting responsibilities come the difficult ones, and if I get to take on the ones I've been waiting for, then I am just as obligated to take on the more difficult responsibilities, too.
To me, this means working hard to support myself while I'm at school. It means prioritizing and not being foolish with my money, although first semester of college was quite the exception. From now on, I know that I'm basically on my own, and that scares me. But I know that the more I prepare, then the more ready I will be when the time comes for me to truly come out from under the wings of my parents.
And so, to the students who spend their summers working and don't get to spend them on tropical vacations: you're doing everything right. Those vacations are waiting for you, and you should be proud of yourself. Don't sell yourself short because you have a certain amount of internal motivation that is incredibly difficult to find.