We’re all familiar with the symptoms of a mid-life crisis—the sudden realizations of dreams untouched and the impulses of buying a shiny new car and/or a boob job. However, no one ever seems to talk about the annual mid-summer crisis which often plagues college students as they study and pursue their careers. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that moment on a Wednesday afternoon when you’re staring at the ceiling and saying to yourself, “What the crap am I going to do with my degree?” When your phone no longer buzzes because all your friends are either A) working, B) studying, or C) hanging out with people who aren’t you.
When you draw the figures of how much the next twenty years will cost and compare them to the lacking balance in your checking account. When most days you find yourself snuggled up with Netflix instead of actual human interaction. From what I’ve experienced, mid-summer crises normally strike during July when you suddenly realize you’ve wasted a good third of your blessed break. You feel the panic build in your chest as you whisper to yourself, “I’m going absolutely nowhere in life, aren’t I?” However, my fellow college student, there is hope. So do not succumb to the “Next episode” button just yet because I’ve got a few tips to help beat your summer slump.
1. Find a creative outlet
Pick up some good ol’ pen and paper. Purchase a blank canvas and slap some paint on it. Scroll through Pinterest and follow the steps of a DIY. Utilize that 8-megapixel iPhone 6 plus camera and shoot some artsy photos for your Instagram. Create a post-modern rendition of your frustrations with the deep indentations of pen slashes and ripped up pieces of binder paper. Pick up some classic Crayola crayons and color outside the lines. Don’t worry if you aren’t gifted with artistic talent or an eye for color/composition. Get out there and create something—anything! Having something tangible and knowing that you were the one who accomplished it will rejuvenate your mind and creativity. You’ll experience a renewed sense of purpose when your work is displayed.
2. Rejoin society even if only for an hour or two
Yes, that means putting on some pants and leaving your house. Isolation is the breeding ground of negativity. The more you choose to stay within the confines of your house, the more you will feel like you’re going nowhere. Believe me, I know how comforting that bedroom may be, but a change of scenery will do you wonders. Walk to that one park you’ve been meaning to visit. Sip on a smooth latte as you sit and read in a coffee shop. Call up a friend and spend the afternoon wandering around. Feed off the energy of complete strangers as you people watch. Breathe in fresh air instead of the same oxygen molecules that reside in your bedroom.
3. Hold a dance party for one and dance like there’s no tomorrow
Crank up Spotify and blast feel good music to get the blood pumping in your veins. Soak in the music and lose yourself to the sweet lyrics that embody what summer is—a time to embrace life. This is when the phrase “Fake it until you make it” comes into play. Even if you are having a crappy day, surround yourself with better and happier vibes. Studies have shown that music does affect one’s brain and productivity.
4. Confide in those who love you
The worst part about a mid-summer crisis is you’ll often feel like no one else is plagued by the same worries as you. Listen to me, this is a lie. Everyone goes through mid-summer crises; some just don’t have them during the summer. There is nothing wrong with having worries or fears. I think they can be healthy, but the problem is when they become a burden and can paralyze a person. You do not need to be paralyzed by your fears. You do not need to let them sit on your ribcage and crush you at night. Talk to someone you trust. Talk to your friends. Talk to your parents. Talk to someone you admire. Don’t be afraid to reach out. There is never any guarantee that they will have the words to completely ease your mind, but you can at least feel your chest loosen up, as your burden is no longer only yours to carry.
5. Constantly remind yourself that success and progress look different to each individual
I cannot express to you how badly this needs to be stressed. We live in a society which demands progress because progress is the manifestation of purpose. Thus if you have no progress, you no longer contain purpose. However, this is another gigantic lie because often times in life, you will dedicate a large sum of your time and effort into a specific goal and not achieve what you think you deserve. This does not mean you are a failure—it is only a setback. Success does not come easy. It requires missed opportunities, failures, setbacks but most importantly patience and the drive to keep pushing forward.
Mid-summer crises are tough. Believe me, I know. I’m going through one right now, but what keeps me going is knowing that none of this—none of my efforts—are going to be in vain. I have faith that my hard work will somehow manifest itself one day. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I know that it will be worth it in the end. So don’t you dare give up on yourself, okay? I’m not even going to give up on you—and I don’t even know you! You aren’t lost. Just think of this slump as a seasonal dose of healthy exploration. I promise you are going to get there one day. So keep your chin up and keep pushing through this summer while it’s still here.