This summer is going to be sweet. It’s going to be unforgettable. You don’t know how or when or with whom, but you’re going to do something magnificent. Before the last lingering dregs of August have dried up and you must return once again to that peculiar place hundreds of miles away where they lecture at you and grade you and make you do all these things you don’t want to do, you’re going to spend this summer doing only the things you truly desire to do.
Before your summer kicks the proverbial bucket, you’re going to check off those boxes on that list you’re making to confirm that yes, you finally did that thing in that place with those people that you’d been wanting to do forever, and boy, did you do it right. So whatever your summertime goals may be, here’s a little inspiration to get you going.
Learn how to play that sport you’ve always wanted to play. You’ve always wanted to know how to play tennis. Or perhaps for you, it’s golf. Maybe you’re just looking for an excuse to get the country club pro’s arms around you, guiding your swing as he whispers sweet, sweet nothings into your ear like, “I don’t think you’re getting it,” and “your putt is crap.” Sigh. So, whatever the reason, go get ’em girl. Leave it all out there on the court—or whatever those sporty types say.
Read a great classic novel. You’re not fulfilled flipping the pages of that flimsy tabloid and you know it. In red, caps-locked lettering, its cover proclaims: “WORST BEACH BODIES OF 2014,” and you hate yourself vehemently for the intrigue it incites. Your literary heart is empty, and you must fill it only with something truly substantial. Will it be War and Peace? Anna Karenina, perhaps? Oprah featured the latter in her book club, and you’d never deny an endorsement by Lady O. And hey, if you prefer American lit to that of Russia, re-read some Fitzgerald and drop lines of his work at the next particularly Gatsbian party you attend, you wild West-Egger, you.
Actually take that trip you’ve wanted to go on for, you know, ever. Every morning when you wake up, you open your tender eyes to the same 8×10 black and white poster of that couple kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower. You tacked it on your ceiling during that Francophile stage you had senior year of high school. The truth is, you have no idea who that couple is, and you’ve never actually seen the Eiffel Tower in the flesh, and both of these things make you really, really, desperately sad. So change that. Check out flights. Go there alone. Go there with friends. Just do it.
Make a dream board. Remember when The Secret by Rhonda Byrne came out and every celeb was all, “OMG, this book is everything!”, so then everybody else was all, “OMG, this book is everything!”? And maybe you don’t buy into the book’s claim that you can get anything you want by simply hoping for it, but Byrne does tout the merits of one DIY your creative heart can’t turn away: an inspiration board. When it’s all complete, you’ll hang it on your bedroom wall, stare at it every day, and practically hear it ask: “Here are your dreams: glued, cut, layered, decorated, and arranged to perfection. What are you doing to reach them?”
Go up in the air. Will it be a hot air balloon or a hang glider? Skydiving or a little cliff jumping at your friend’s cottage on the lake? It doesn’t matter how; you just need to get your feet off the ground. It’s hot down here. It’s humid and it’s muggy, and have you seen what happens to your hair when you lay out long in this climate? Find a pilot and seduce him, if you must. Just get up and into the sky and find a way closer to that fine, clear air you’re so crazy about.
Do something bad. You’re so good. You’re too good. You’re good all the time, and frankly, you’re bored. Something’s lacking. So be a little bad. Spike your morning orange juice with champagne. Go skinny dipping at midnight off the pier. Take a pole dancing class. Put streaks in your hair. Get that piercing you’ve wanted forever (just do it professionally, please!). Go braless at least biweekly, and flash your city from a rooftop terrace that isn’t your own.
Road trip somewhere. You don’t have to go that far if you don’t feel like it; just go as far as the playlist you doctored for the trip takes you. Open the windows. Open the sunroof. Flip a coin when you reach a fork. Heads you go right; tails you go left. If you’re too type A for that uncertainty, map out a route and go for miles. If you’re really ambitious, tackle Route 66. Go all Jack Kerouac in your parents’ minivan and drive into the sunset. Or hey, if you only have a free afternoon, just skip the town limits and get back before dinner.
Paint a canvas. You’re not really an artist. You’re not really sure you even know how to handle a paintbrush; the last thing you got artsy with was a galloping paint-by-number chestnut stallion in grade school. You have no idea what you’re doing, but you’re going to figure it out as you go, and you’re going to figure it out with liberal globs of neon oil paint. Are you painting a flower? A face? A frankfurter? You’ll never tell. If people don’t get your abstractions, they’re not deep enough to understand (you’re not sure you necessarily know what you’re painting either, but whatever). The concept of “good art” is so regressive, anyway. You’re above judgment, so go ahead and get messy.
Be a kid. Climb trees. Scrape your left knee on the bark on the way down and forget about it until later. Wrap it up in Barbie Band-Aids when you finally remember. Jump through a sprinkler in your clothes. Eat so many Creamsicles you stain your lips orange and look kind of weird. Screw your summer job and sell lemonade on your front lawn. Rope swing into a pond and shriek all the way in like you’re five years old and hate getting wet, and oh my god, do you have any idea the kind of fishes in there that might eat you?!
Disconnect. Turn off your cell phone. Shut down your Macbook. Take the batteries out of your pager, if you’re still living in 1999. Stop being so plugged-in all the time. Stop checking your email and unsubscribe from at least half of the newsletters clogging your inbox (except Her Campus Study Breaks, obvi). And when you’re done disconnecting, reconnect with nature. Go hiking without a GPS in your pocket. Stop asking if there’s “an app for that.” Maybe there is, but you can manage without it.
Have a summer fling. You’re looking for love—but only four months’ worth of it. You want someone to stroll along the boardwalk with and stay up with all night with watching the sun set and then rise again. You want someone to pick you up and toss you into the pool and then you can water gun them down with a Super Soaker in revenge. You don’t need 50 Reasons, you just need to go for it now while the temperature’s still hot—and so are the boys.
So go out there and be somebody, kid, ‘cause it’s only the summer for so long and you’ve gotta strike while the fruit’s still ripe, the sand’s still warm, and the days are still long. September will come eventually, but the summer is still young; what are you going to do with it?