Summer as a 20 year old is extremely different to summer as a child, hence the distinction between childhood, and adulthood. When I was a kid, summer usually involved camping trips, running barefoot on concrete at the outdoor water-park, spending hours at the playground, and eating tons of watermelon. Because of my childhood, the sound of sprinklers, lawn mowers, and indoor fans and the smell of sunscreen and mosquito spray will forever remind me of the summertime. While some of these activities have remained a part of my summer routine, I can definitely say that “growing up” has changed a lot of things.
Now that it is July, the heart of summertime, I hear a nagging voice in the back of my mind saying, “Don’t forget to put your alarm on to get up for work on time. Don’t forget about that book you wanted to read. Remember that you have a meeting on this day at this time. Don’t forget to book time off for this event. Your days of freedom are numbered Niabi. Accomplish something. Don’t waste today.” As a kid, school was almost just as fun as summer break, so I never had a reason to look forward to the summer as much as I do now. Today, my summers hold an immense amount of pre-planned potential, where I have a list of things I want to accomplish, places I want to see, and friends I want to catch-up with.
As a twenty year old, my summers have turned into a 4-month period where I dedicate my time to doing the things that I put off during the school year. These involve travelling (usually not very far because I am pretty much broke by the time school is done), working more, meeting up with friends who I’ve tried to meet up with during the term but didn’t because all of my free time (if I was lucky enough to have any) was dedicated to napping and reading books for pleasure (instead of stuffing my brain with informative text that sometimes went in one ear and out the other).
While summer as an “adult” may sound loaded with responsibilities and obligations, the sense of freedom that now comes with the summertime is both liberating and exhilarating. My plans and decisions become my own, especially when I am away from home, and this is scary and exciting in itself; scary because I know that I am the sole individual responsible for my actions, and exciting because I have the freedom to do whatever I want to do. I can finally afford that road trip with my friends, or enjoy VIP passes to that concert I have been dying to go to. I can dedicate my time to interests I wanted to pursue back when circumstances wouldn’t allow me to. Most importantly, I can focus on my relationships with the people I care about, and can dedicate time to nurturing and strengthening these bonds.
I got my license just last December, so this is my first July as a driver. That in itself is a huge rite of passage into adulthood, and it has completely changed the way I experience summer. Now, I can get to places in 15 minutes instead of an hour. Now, I have to budget my spending for gas money, and make sure that I get enough sleep if I plan on driving the next day. During the school year, I started losing interest in reading, and it got to the point where seeing any large amount of text made me feel sleepy. But summer came around and I was able to take time away from textbooks. I started taking salsa lessons, something that I have always wanted to do, started meeting up with old friends, and enjoying the outdoors. Eventually, I had given my mind enough rest and variety to feel like picking up a book again. And this time it was Nicholas Sparks instead of Shakespeare (because let’s face it, English major or not, not everyone has the skills to read Shakespeare for pleasure).
Now, I am much more aware of the passage of time than when I was a child. I notice when the first leaf turns yellow, I am more aware of what is happening in the world, and am more conscious of the increasing number of grey hairs on my mom’s head. Just a few days ago I sat back and asked myself, “Whoa. Am I actually paying a bill right now?” When you really think about it, it can be quite mind blowing to see how much time goes by and how many things change without your noticing. Noticing change reminds me that my life is constantly evolving, and that it is important that I dedicate my time to making the most of it. I guess what I am trying to say is that while being aware of change can make me feel nostalgic (whether I focus on the summertime or not), it is also teaching me to embrace the fact that everything is always changing. And looking back has made me realize that change has almost always has been for the better.
Niabi is a fourth year BA student double majoring in English and Spanish. She’s a relentless optimist, hazardously curious, and loves a good laugh (her friends would say that she has a juvenile sense of humor). When not jamming out to Reggaeton, you can find her trying to cuddle every dog she sees, or serving herself “eyes-are-to-big-for-your-stomach” helpings.