Stop Feeling Summer Guilt

Summer always feels like a time of endless possibilities, where you can check off every item on your long-neglected to-do list while eating a popsicle and sitting on the beach. Unfortunately, that dreamy vision often does not translate into reality. So when fall rolls around and you’re feeling guilty because you didn’t accomplish everything you meant to (or even a fraction of it), here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Summer is Short

When viewed from the perspective of constant classes and homework, summer seems to be plenty long enough to get a million things done. Considering that it’s 13 weeks, it seems like a long time. But things come up and time flies away from you. Setting a massive goal isn’t always realistic and doesn’t account for other demands on your time. It’s easy to say that you will work out every day, write a novel, or catch up on doctor’s office visits and adulting. It’s harder to stick to that as the nice days and sunshine slip away faster than anticipated, with winter looming over everything like a threat. 

Your Mind Needs a Break

After the spring semester ends, everyone needs some time to unwind. Balancing work and classes takes a mental toll, which can be especially evident as the semester draws to a close. Jumping right into a new set of deadlines (even self-imposed ones) isn’t healthy. You need some time to just sit and do nothing afterwards, and spending time in the sun is great for letting go of school-imposed stress! After that, it can be hard to motivate yourself to spend your free time on chores. There will always be time in winter, right? Then comes the back-to-school planning—dealing with financial aid, preparing for classes, shifting work schedules, etc—and your mental energy is once again occupied by school.

Trust Your Past Self 

This can be difficult, but try to trust your past self. Instead of berating yourself for being lazy or forgetful or anything else, remind yourself that you made the best decision for yourself in that moment. Hindsight is 20/20 and when looking back, it may feel like you had plenty of time to get everything done and just chose to do other (usually more fun) things instead. When you made that decision, you had a reason for it, and that reason obviously felt sound enough at the time, though it may not feel that way now. Trust that you made the right decision and remember why you did. If you chose to have a beach day with friends instead of making that doctor’s appointment you keep putting off, remember how much fun you had. If you played video games instead of writing 1,000 words a day, think about how you needed the mental break and time to relax. Even if you did shirk responsibilities, try to forgive yourself and look toward the future. 

Focus on What You Did

So what did you get done this summer? If you’re feeling guilty about wasting the time off from classes, make a list of everything you accomplished. Include things like relaxing outside, working a lot, reading a new book, rearranging your room, and going to the fair even if they don’t feel like “real” accomplishments. The list of things you didn’t get done is endless but ignores everything you did achieve. Remembering all of the cool stuff you did instead of regretting what you didn’t sets you up in a better mindset to go out and do more things in the future. Focusing on the positive is always, well… a positive! 

No matter what you accomplished (or didn’t) this summer, remember what you did get done and be proud. Summer may be over, but the school year has just begun, and there will always be more things to do. You don’t need summer guilt hanging over your head as you dive into classes again. Hold onto those summer memories, and have a wonderful semester!