I was always warned by friends, relatives and teachers that I should enjoy my high school years, for they were destined to be remembered as the “best years of my life.” I spent my four years in high school waiting for the fun to start, yet the only thing I remember feeling was pressure, anxiety and stress. I can remember a time when the car ride back from my family’s annual vacation in mid-August brought with it the awful realization that school was mere weeks away. Confirming what had usually become obvious, office supply stores began to advertise “Back to School” sales – the death knell for a summer vacation that was already well on its way to being over. In short, I knew that another year of high school was en route, and I dreaded its approach.
I don’t feel that way anymore. In fact, you could say that I’ve been looking forward to going back to school now for the past three months. When I’m back at the “U,” and not on break, I enjoy a work week that usually consists of sitting in lecture halls and classrooms 16 hours a week. Afterwards, I go and get a two-pound burrito, the aptly named El Gordo, at Panchero’s on South U. I go to the football games, and pay far less than the common man for tickets. I have a part-time job on the weekends that has significantly less responsibility than I can handle. I stay out late, wake up late and do what I want most of the time.
I take a look at my life now, “on vacation,” and realize that being on summer break is no break at all. There is nothing fun about a four month period where most college students are faced with these tasty choices:
a) You could head home, back with your parents to show them all the nasty habits you’ve picked up since you’ve been away. Show them first-hand why they shipped you off to school in the first place.
b) Toss yourself into the real world. Discover that Ann Arbor crap jobs won’t pay for both Ann Arbor rent and a 60-dollar-a-week drinking habit.
c) Take an internship: slavery in the name of job experience that is vaguely connected to your major of choice, which, chances are, won’t be your major of choice come next semester.
Not exactly stellar options. When I go home for summer break, the work week gets longer and the job gets tougher. Mom is decidedly against opening a Panchero’s franchise in our kitchen. Most everyone I care to spend time with is busy or out of the state and every person I never wanted to see again usually decides to drop by for a chat on my day off. These visits from high school classmates are obligatory, and only confirm the “glory days” of high school really weren’t so glorious and that I won’t be attending my high school reunion.
So here I sit, tan, fit and royally discontent, counting the days until I go back to school, and I can’t help but think how truly perverse this situation is. I spent most of my youth wishing away the school year, and now I wish away the summer months so I can go back to school. I know full well that when my four years here are over, and I get handed a degree, life will get a lot more serious really quickly, whether I like it or not. Responsibilities, taxes and my thirties await. Meanwhile, I’m fortunate enough to get these college years, which are turning out to be four amazing years of first time experiences. It’s your first taste of freedom. Your first responsibility. Your first step towards something you enjoy. Your first meaningful education, by teachers, most of whom really know what they are talking about. Your first taste of late night Blimpy Burger, and your first “Walk of Shame.” Here, you get to stand in the Diag screaming at the top of your lungs, or walk through it saying nothing at all. I’m loving every minute of it.
Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.