I like school. It is what I am good at. I like it even better now that I am in college and can live at the place where I receive education. I understand how to operate within the boundaries Life At School.
Summer vacation, however, is a transitional period from one school year to the next, during which I have no idea what to do with myself. It used to be enough to simply hang out at home with my sister, go for walks, do a few chores. But now, Young Adulthood means that although I “deserve to relax,” although I “earned my vacation,” I also “shouldn’t waste the whole summer doing nothing” and should probably “be productive and make plans.” The problem isn’t that I shy away from a summer job or that I dislike work. I know what do in those situations. The problem is that when I’m casting about for a substitute structure to replace Life At School, conflicting advice hits me from all sides – and because I am no longer at school, where my decisions are my own, I am expected to once again take these mentors’ opinions into account.
I guess that’s the funny part of this point in life: I can make decisions about my own career path, nutritional habits, sleep patterns, sex life, etc. while I’m away. But when I come home for summer or spring break or winter break, I hover somewhere between having to ask permission for everything again and “You should be able to do this without us by now.” During the school year, I know what my role is. During the summer, I can feel like everything from a guest to a little kid to a grown-ass woman to a high schooler to an intruder within the space of a day.
College is wonderful in that it allows us to take baby steps away from home as we practice becoming self-sufficient while knowing we have a soft place to land. But it also has the admittedly obvious side effect of making those who leave and come back chafe at the remaining restrictions of their old life. I want to return home, but don’t know where I fit in anymore. I’m not at school, so I can’t act as I do there, but neither do I want to relinquish the of control and self-assurance I learned while there.
Perhaps this discomfort is the push meant to send me out after college, extending my baby steps into larger strides taking me to a new apartment, new workplace, new life.
But that doesn’t make me any less squirmy and bored this particular summer.