Learn Something This Summer

What does summer mean to you? For me, it’s always been synonymous with sun, gorging myself on fresh fruit and far too much ice-cream, swimming in the Mediterranean and, above all, relaxation. I was lucky enough to grow up in the south of France, where children are given not one, not two, but three uninterrupted months of summer holidays a year (not to mention the customary Christmas, winter and spring breaks); this means that soaking up the rays, lounging in luxuriant French gardens, lolling about in the sea and all the other summery activities you could possibly think of are pretty much part of my DNA. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my childhood and teenage years there: with emphasis firmly placed on playing and spending time outdoors, I’d be lying if I said that life wasn’t damn sweet; and of course, old habits die hard, so the French attitude towards holidays – which was, like I said, as much a part of me as my curly hair – followed me well into my university years. After all, we students had broken our backs, studying hard throughout the year – it was only natural to be rewarded with a couple of months of emptying our brains and doing absolutely nothing, right? Right!   

Fast-forward a few years and my thoughts on the matter, like these things often do, have changed somewhat. With a little more real-life experience under my belt and more adult smarts at my disposal, it’s dawned upon me that as enjoyable as these long summers were, perhaps – just perhaps – all that time wasn’t as wisely spent as it couldn’t have been. While I was sunning the hours away and faffing about in the Mediterranean waves, other smart cookies were flipping burgers in McDonalds, doing cool (and not-so-cool) internships, starting their own companies and going to summer school; in other words, they were gaining experience and learning real, actionable skills that probably had a significant influence on the success of their uni applications, as well as the place where they would eventually hang their professional hats. So, to sum up: on the one hand, a talented chick whiling the hours on a sunbed/the beach/at a café in the sun, book optional (but often present); on the other, a bunch of motivated youngsters taking courses, assembling Big Macs and learning team work, taking entrepreneurial risks and generally gearing themselves up to be future badasses. Who do you think has the better chance of ending up someplace incredible?

Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m unhappy with where I’ve ended up. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a digital marketer for a fabulous online shoe company in Paris, the City of Lights; I run a successful blog and am lucky enough to be in a relationship with one of the most amazing men I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. My life is, to recycle my earlier words, pretty damn sweet. But. But. Could I have arrived here faster? Could I have come equipped with better and more relevant skills? Could I have negotiated for a higher ranking position, with more responsibilities and, let’s say it as it is, more financial freedom? Would my life be any different, had I decided to pull the proverbial finger out and actually done something with my summers? I don’t know about you, but I reckon the answer to all of these questions is a big, resounding YES! 

Luckily, I’m not one to dwell on the past and get depressed over what could’ve been. I’d much rather take the bull by the horns and get crackin’! And this is what I’d like to challenge you, dear readers, to as well. So far, I’ve been writing about radical self-love in a general self-care kind of way, but today, it’s really more of a practical self-love that I’m advocating. But first, let’s do a quick show of hands: how many of you are still in university as we speak? I’m guessing quite a few of you. How many of you have planned to do something epically useful this summer? I’m talking enrolling in a cool course (this can be anything! You might want to learn rudimentary coding, pick up some conversational Chinese… The world is your oyster) to learn some skills, starting a blog or an online vintage clothing shop (it worked for Sophia Amoruso, didn’t it?), brainstorming small (or big!) business ideas with your buddies, getting a job… I’m hoping that after reading this article so far, quite a few of you still have your hands up. 

Basically, what I want you to consider doing this summer – and this goes for those of you/us who’re in jobs, too! Business tends to slow down in most industries during the hotter months – is do something that will be useful for your future. Make the most of the time off, or the more relaxed hours, to really further your agenda, whatever that may be. Don’t quite know which direction you’re going in yet? No problem: use this season to really come to grips with what you want to happen for yourself in the short-, mid- and long-term. You are the architect of your life: time used to sit and brainstorm and design it is time well-spent indeed. If you have a big goal you’ve been day-dreaming about, something you’ve been um-ing and ah-ing over, something you’ve delayed again and again because you “didn’t have the time” to start – this is it! Make THIS summer the summer you get thing moving along. 

Students: I’m not asking you to sacrifice your holidays for this! It doesn’t have to be hardship: even an hour a week spent working on your goals is better than nothing (although I would advise more but then, I can be pretty impatient). If you have the gumption for it, get a job. Not only will you have more cash to hand, you’ll also learn some pretty valuable skills while you’re at it! Don’t turn your nose up at working in a fast-food chain: you might be bored and think it’s beneath you, but you’d be surprised at how much you’ll learn about customer service (most of the jobs out there require some face time with someone you’re selling something to, so this is paramount), team work and discipline. Those of you who are in jobs: you may not have as much time at your disposal as students, but I’m still 100% certain that you can squeeze one or two hours out of your week to work on something you’re really passionate about. How do I know? Because that’s what I’m doing: I put in long hours at my job, go to the gym, cook for my boyfriend and me, tend to the house, have a social life and yet, I still manage to spend a lot of time on what I’m truly into: writing and connecting with people. I’m even planning to up my game this summer and spend two hours a week getting really intimate with Photoshop and Illustrator. Why am I doing this? Because I know it will be SO HELPFUL for me in the long run, both for my blog and my career. As far as I’m concerned, it’s absolutely worth spending a little less time in the sun for. 

Will you be joining me by deciding to do something different this summer and committing to doing something that’ll help you fulfill your dreams? See you at the finish line!

 

 

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