During the school year, Georgetown students devote a substantial amount of time and energy to their classes in order to thrive academically. The majority of the student body also engages in clubs, attends some of the myriad events on campus and involves themselves in an array of extracurricular activities. Schedules are jam-packed — there is always another task to accomplish. In my first year at Georgetown, I often found myself overwhelmed with my seemingly endless to-do list.
Heading into the summer months, however, Hoyas now have the time to explore and cultivate different areas of interest. Some students’ summer journeys take them home, some into a new environment where they will work or intern and some to new locales abroad.
For those who return home like myself, it is an interesting experience: You are confronted with contradicting senses of unfamiliarity and familiarity — the feeling of returning to a place and resuming a lifestyle to which you are no longer accustomed; balancing your Georgetown friends and your high school friends; comparing your responsibilities at school and your responsibilities at home.
Even if you go somewhere other than home over the summer, there is a similar feeling of transitioning into a different version of yourself: No longer are you burdened with the same stresses of the academic year.
During the academic year, I never thought much about these types of changes. Finding the time to actively reflect is often not on the average college student’s radar. Even if you do have the time, you would probably rather spend it unwinding from schoolwork or spending time with friends. But during the summer, it is possible you will find yourself with more time thinking: What do I do now?
Just as sleep is important for the human body to function healthily both physically and mentally, summer plays a similar role in allowing us to recharge from our daily stresses and reflect on where we now stand. From a young age, we are told to use our time wisely and not to be lazy. However, we must acknowledge that healthy, engaged reflection and necessary relaxation are not laziness, but rather are integral to our continued success.
As a society, we often underestimate the value of taking time to make no plans and follow no schedule. Nearly all of what we do is predetermined. Our day-to-day life during the school year comes with an inherent lack of spontaneity: We are programmed to cycle through the times and days of classes, pinpoint how long we need to get from point A to point B and adhere to our strict schedules; everything we do is in anticipation of the future, seeking what is next.
Summer serves as an opportunity to briefly step away from our daily craziness and live a less hectic, less robotic life. It gives us time to focus on what is immediately around us.
Wherever you find yourself this summer — whether it is at home, in an office or abroad — take some time to digest your surroundings. Use the summer to gain back lost hours of sleep, read the book you still have not had the chance to open or make plans to see a friend with whom you have lost touch during the busy school year. Summer is a time for you to recharge your body’s battery — in whatever way that may be — and enjoy the different set of freedoms and opportunities around you.
Elisabeth O’Brien is a sophomore in the College. Brain Waves appears every other Friday.