As we sat in our cubicles in Lau during finals, flipping through the readings we never read over the semester, we may have regretted the time wasted scrolling down Facebook and wished we had been more productive. We may have wished we had gone to every lecture, met with our professors more often and taken better notes in class.

Yet the prospect of summer holidays may not have brightened your mood. For those whose summer plans were still up in the air, the thought of summer may just have made the light at the end of the tunnel seem even further away.

Let’s be clear: Summer break is supposed to be a break. A three-month break. But the reality is that people don’t feel entitled to a break for such a long period of time. We are all overachievers. The idea of having three months of doing nothing is unsettling. So, the break becomes a time in which we take summer classes, pursue an internship, find a summer job or discover other, productive opportunities. All of these activities make us more well-rounded people and build better resumes for ourselves.

I’ll be honest; like many people, I started preparing my summer plan early, hoping to grab the best opportunities possible. If I was going to find an internship in journalism, I would want to work with a prestigious newspaper company. If I wanted a summer job, it would ideally pay well, be somehow beneficial to my college career and be located in a metropolis like New York, London or Paris. Either way, my consideration was based on whether it would get me ahead of the game or sounded both fun and valuable when I told people my plans.

We all want to do well, to be our best in every aspect at all times. We want to be straight-A students, to be the head of the clubs we’re most involved in and to be fun and interesting people socially. In addition to all the academic excellence we demand from ourselves at university, we also want to be professional outside of educational settings.

I was just as afflicted as everyone else who follows this trend, or more precisely, this tradition of going after ambitious positions. I found myself motivated to aim high after hearing about big summer plans from my peers, each one of them interning on the Hill, working for Morgan Stanley or taking summer classes. These all sound fabulous at first, but when I heard a friend of mine who worked at Goldman Sachs say that she would spend 15 hours per day in the office, I started to doubt this common approach to summer breaks.

I realized that all the pressure to get the best out of what I can do did not make me more determined to go after something ambitious, but rather, simply dispersed my ideas in so many different directions that I lost focus on what I really wanted. Perhaps we are given the three-month break as college students, and not as adults, for a true break from the stresses of the academic year.

So perhaps the time has come to reconsider the simple questions: What is summer? What is its purpose? What do we really want to do?

I’m not saying that we should all do nothing in the summer, but I guess I am still figuring out what the purpose of the summer is exactly. I can’t help but think that if we could be courageous enough to forget about getting ahead and doing something revolutionary, we might find some real joy in the simple perks of summer.

Rita Chang is a rising sophomore in the College. Perks of Summer appears every other Wednesday at

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