After a solid three-month summer break, the last thing I want to be thinking about right now is heading back to Uni. Surprisingly, I’m not worried about the 9 am starts or imminent essay deadlines but instead September is the month when I have to face up to the fact that I have spent the past twelve weeks or so sitting contentedly twiddling my thumbs all the while telling myself that I deserve this ‘well-earned rest’.
Unfortunately, what I am bound to face when I head back to uni is lecturers insinuating I should have spent the summer months reading and advancing my studies, future employers delivering speeches on the value of work experience, and tales of other students travels across the globe. All of these occupations are amazing and incredibly valuable ways to have spent the holidays, but since when did it become an obligation to fill every single moment of our lives with activities aimed at bettering ourselves? Since when did it become a crime to simply relax?
With an ever-increasing pressure placed on students all throughout term time with essays, exams and job applications, the summer is supposed to be a time dedicated to relaxation and recovery before restarting the following year. If you have the energy and the motivation to storm through summer completing volunteering placements, working, or travelling the world, then by all means go for it. Summer is an incredibly useful period of time for earning some extra cash to support your studies and prepping that CV for future job applications. Nonetheless, rest is equally important and arguably for some people more beneficial in the long run.
Valuable ways to spend your time include catching up with family and friends, taking some time for yourself, maybe working on a skill you’ve previously cast aside, or even just catching up on your favourite series. This is important both for your mental well-being, and to ensure you are in the best possible place for the coming academic year. Just as we need to not forget our priorities during term time and get lost in the world of examinations and future employment, it is important to do so over summer as well.
All these extra-curricular activities are meaningful, but they need to be considered as just that, as ‘extra’. They should be seen as an advantage, but you should not be considered negatively for a lack in them. At the ages of nineteen, twenty, or twenty-one nothing is too important that it cannot be left until later on. You have the rest of your life to work, to earn a living, or to travel, there is absolutely no rush to tick every box before reaching the age of twenty-two.
Since this article marks the end of summer, I am obviously not trying to influence how you spend your holidays. Instead, feel positive about whatever it is you have chosen to do during the past few months. Equally remember that these are lessons on rest and taking time for yourself are relevant for the summer, but equally during term time, and over exam period. You do not need to justify yourself to lecturers, parents or even future employers. Rest and enjoyment should always be priorities and sometimes doing absolutely nothing is the most productive thing that can be done.