Summer Well Spent

On the last day of Junior year, I left campus relieved to have survived the frenzy of stress and exhaustion of finals week. Liberated from the shackles of homework and other commitments, I was free to finally welcome a lifestyle of lazy summer days. I relished the privilege of sleeping for as long as it took to dissipate the fatigue of the last nine months. Many of my classmates left campus that day with similar senses of relief. However, many of them then proceeded to spend their summers traveling abroad, participating in rigorous academic summer programs or undergoing grueling athletic training. For all their longing to make it to summer break in one piece, they just couldn’t seem to resist the thrill of achievement for three months. I spent the majority of my summer in my pajamas at home in Andover, MA. My ambitious friends were surprised when they learned I had no real summer plans. At first I didn’t let it worry me, but then I encountered similar responses from other people. Why wasn’t I going on vacation? Wasn’t I utterly bored by a summer spent at home? Why didn’t I attend a camp or summer program? Apparently spending the summer in a state of constant relaxation is somewhat of a taboo. Many of my friends were mildly horrified by the prospect of three idle months at home. I remember during moments of frustration this past school year, I would dream of summer vacation beginning. But now that it finally had, I found myself wishing I was back in school. After all, most of my friends were involved in fun and interesting projects over the summer, and my lack of plans made me feel a little left out. I know there was a time when all that I wanted was to do nothing, but now that summer was here, I felt like nothing simply wasn’t good enough. By embracing relaxation, I came to an important realization: I genuinely missed Andover. It took three months of slumber, trashy television and boredom to spark this realization, but I actually missed working like crazy. Andover may be difficult and undeniably exhausting, but the rewards are so great that the moments of sweat, grit and tears are lost in those of triumph and exaltation. That being said, I refuse to be ashamed of my lackluster summer accomplishments. When I returned to Andover this September, I found my more involved friends a little worse for wear after their exciting summers. And that was when I realized that my sleepy summer had not been wasted after all. Thanks to many pajama-clad days spent on the couch, I came back to school this year refreshed and eager to get back to work. So, although I may not have learned a new language or volunteered abroad, the past three months were valuable. I returned to Andover hungry for the satisfaction of filling my days to the brim and having zero spare time. I craved the adrenaline rush of pushing beyond my limits and striving for what seems unattainable. Andover is calling and I am ready. Caroline Lu is a two-year Lower from Andover, MA.