A voice calls out, “Your time is up. Put down your pens and stop writing.” Alas, the last of exams has concluded reluctantly. Amidst the scraping of chairs, shuffling of papers and the general bustle, the same question drifts over the heads of different groups:
“So what are your plans this summer?”
For us, the meaning of summer differs greatly from the usual notion of that in the West. For starters, Singapore experiences summer all year around, albeit in varying degrees (literally). Summer is seen as a time for action and investment for the future. It is the time to gain working experience, build connections at an internship, traverse foreign lands or forge new friendships at a camp. How each of us chooses to spend our days, of course, is entirely up to us. Yet, by some chance, all of us flock to any of these options in an attempt to be able to answer the above question sufficiently. Perhaps it is a unique quirk of our society to constantly be in motion – having something to fill up the days and having a certain purpose. I definitely felt the same in my previous two summers in university.
However, for the first time in my life, I face the prospect of summer stretching before me without any concrete plan in mind. Having made a conscious decision not to take up any internships, camps or commitments, I had this ideal notion of rediscovering the ‘American Summer’ of endless, bright sunny days streaming out ahead of us. Three glorious months of unlimited potential, filled with possibilities, of doing things in the moment. Of going everywhere and anywhere, of finding new paths and roads untaken. Of doing things that I want, whenever I want. After all, I reason to myself, this is my last summer before plunging into the adult world of jobs and careers. What better opportunity to have one last leap at childhood and holiday? Who knows when I’ll next be able to have an unbroken three months of free time again?
Yet, at the back of my mind I suppose I will always feel this mild sense of panic about what I have done or rather what am I going to do. Three whole months?! In a different light, it seems rather daunting. It is highly possible that my summer trickles away by lying around and attempting to watch the entirety of Netflix. And there is a limit on how many hours one can actually sleep. Some would undoubtedly argue that a mindless pursuit of days is a waste of time. How can a society grow great if everyone is off doing their own things and not being a functional, productive member of society?
Rather, I would say that the time you enjoyed wasting is not time wasted. Equally important is self-awareness in being at peace with yourself and learning what makes you happy. This time can used to perhaps uncover a new passion or even to learn how to treasure each day. What does it say about us if we are unable to make spontaneous decisions or live in the moment? I have one simple rule: Do Something New Everyday. Hopefully, this will push me to never stop exploring and experience something different each day.
There is still that sense of quiet trepidation in me of ‘wasting’ this summer.
But I think I might just learn to overcome it.
“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!”
― Bill Watterson, It’s a Magical World: A Calvin and Hobbes Collection