Brace yourselves: Summer is upon us and somewhere Sean Bean is on bended knee waiting to warn all of the lists of things to do this summer.
We get it; we’re supposed to close Netflix and enjoy the weather, or become that douchey version of ourselves who brags about all the concerts and music festivals we went to.
Summer is great and all, but what happens when it’s over? All you have are pieced-together stories about getting too drunk on a raft in the no-one-cares river, and you’re none the better for it.
How many times can you really put on your jean shorts and camp out in a nasty field of sketchy druggies while waiting for your favorite band to perform? Maybe it’s just me, but you’re not really getting much out of that except maybe herpes.
So here’s a list that's a bit of a deviation from the norm to break up the monotony. Instead of throwing our summer away like a used condom, let’s get something out of it (man, that’s a terrible image).
Try to plan your summer around bettering you. I’m here to help you walk back onto campus or into the office a happier, more fulfilled, interesting and intelligent person.
Traveling to unknown places is one of the most significant things you will ever do. It’s important to note, I’m not talking about that trip you took with your family last summer to Disney World, or the cruise you have planned with your future ex.
I'm talking a self-aware trip somewhere you wouldn’t usually visit. It’s important to see the world and understand the people who live in it and how they live. London, Paris and Rome, although beautiful, are for the birds.
Try an African nation, northern Europe or even the Middle East. Go somewhere a little out of your comfort zone; trust me, you’ll learn much more and be better for it.
Hey, if you can’t swing a trip overseas, there are tons of places in the continental US of A you should visit. Hop in your hooptie and take a trip to Antelope Canyon in Arizona, or Thor’s Well (yeah, Thor’s Well) in Oregon.
You'll see more than your daily commute, and don’t forget to stop in the small towns along the way.
Learn a New Skill
You’re already spending way too much time searching cat videos on YouTube, so why not type in “how to play guitar” instead and do yourself a favor. Don’t have a guitar? My first one was a $30 piece of sh*t, but trust me, it was a good investment.
Picture this: The new and improved you has a rough day at work. Instead of coming home and binge watching Netflix while sobbing into a half-eaten pint of double chocolate ice cream, you pick up your guitar and learn a new song, or maybe even write one.
Or maybe you paint, work on a beat-up car, try a new cooking recipe, knit a scarf, head to a Taekwondo lesson or try any number of stress-relieving and useful skills.
Aren’t you tired of not having anything to put down on job applications where it says interests and skills? Not to mention, playing guitar, cooking, fixing cars and being able to defend yourself with martial arts is guaranteed to get you hotties.
Who knows, knitting might get you a little somethin’ somethin’ too.
Fall in Love
I know, I know; this one is easier said than done. Well, with your new hottie-captivating skill, you’ll have a lot of girls to choose from. But let it be known that falling in love doesn’t necessarily have to be with someone of the opposite sex, or any sex really.
For that matter, coitus doesn’t have to have any lines in this story. Love can be as simple as the view from a park bench, the dessert (likely involving Nutella) that seemingly takes all your problems away or the song that touches your heart.
I know every time I hear Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing,” my day automatically gets better. Call it corny if you want, but having something like that in your life to lean on when times get rough gives you an automatic upgrade.
If you think relationships are too messy, just get a dog; they’re easy to love and will always be there.
Volunteer or Do Charity Work
You don’t have to become Mother Theresa in one summer, but giving back to those less fortunate is rewarding, infectious and helpful. Even you, the poor, recent college graduate far from having life figured out, has something to give back.
Whether you start something up on your own, or simply visit a children’s hospital, retirement home, or donate canned goods, take a shot at helping out your fellow man. Realizing that there are people out there in more difficult situations than you will really put your life into perspective. All of a sudden, that rough day at work isn’t such a big deal.
Go ahead and make volunteering a regular thing. You may be surprised to find out who’s helping who.
What better way to immediately feel like a better version of you than to push your body to its limit, only to realize it has another level? Man, I’m getting hyped just thinking about it.
There are many different levels and ways you can work out. Most people have a thing, you know: runners, bikers, yogis and weightlifters. All you have to do is find a form of exercise that helps relieve your stress and makes you feel better post-workout.
If you’re like me and intimidated by the gym (or poor), don't worry; it’s not the only place to get fit. With the right mindset and motivation, working out at home can be beneficial and save you the money.
I recommend yoga; it’s a great way to get your mind right and work your muscles in the morning. You laugh, guys, but give it a try and watch those snickers turn to sobs. If all that’s too much of a commitment for you, though, running is generally a good way to go. Just get off your ass and make something happen.
Kick a Bad Habit
I’m wagging my finger at all you smokers out there. A friend of mine recently started a new chapter in his life with a new job and a new city, and decided to give up the cancer stick. Can you really argue that kicking smoking wouldn’t improve your life?
For those of you not wasting precious time sucking on a cigarette, I’m sure there’s something you do that you wish you didn’t.
Now don’t confuse a bad habit with someone else’s pet peeve. If there’s something you do that annoys your friends, tell them to get over it. If you decide to kick a bad habit, do it for you.
Read One of the Classics
I guess this one isn’t for everybody because I know there are people out there who just don’t like to read. But if you’re a bibliophile, a history buff, a writer or consider yourself an intellectual, then you absolutely need to read at least one of the classic works this summer.
What are some of the classics? I’m glad you asked. Books such as “A Tale of Two Cities,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Of Mice and Men” and “The Grapes of Wrath," are just a few.
Some are a bit difficult to get through, but you’d be doing yourself a favor by learning something, and you’d be doing the rest of us a favor by being less of an uneducated nincompoop.
Unless you’re entering your freshman year at a university, high school does not count as having read these. Be honest: You probably used SparkNotes back then, anyway.
Call an Old Friend
The next time you find yourself asking, “I wonder how Tiffany’s life is turning out,” pick up your phone and instead of opening Candy Crush, give her a call.
We all have those friends who sort of disappear or drift away, but if you truly miss the person, go ahead and give him or her a call. I believe once we graduate college, we really start to sort through our friends to find those who will be around for life.
These phone calls will end one of two ways: 1) You’ll feel better because you just spent 30 minutes reconnecting with someone, or 2) You’ll realize why you two are no longer friends, and his or her life sucks way worse than yours. Either way, you win.
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