Giving Summer Structure

With the arrival of summer every year, I am usually left feeling a bit daunted. When I was younger I always felt overwhelmed by this sudden independence, my feelings contrasting with the impression of summer as a time of freedom and adventure as given by books and films such as Stand by Me. To keep myself inspired and busy, growing up I would make summer bucket lists of things I wanted to achieve in my six weeks of holiday, my goals and plans ranging from ‘read 10 books’ to ‘go camping’ and ‘finish your Nintendo DS Pokémon Diamond game’ (which, twelve years later, I still have to complete). I felt like I had to make use of this rare opportunity of freedom and was always disappointed when I came to the end of the holidays to find most items not crossed off the bucket list,  because I put pressure on myself that not doing anything spectacular would have meant wasting the months away. 

Since coming to university, I picture the summer months as relaxation in the sun and taking time to just chill after a few stressful weeks of exams. In reality, as I’m not a very spontaneous person, I find the lack of a structured timetable or daily routine difficult. My childhood bucket lists came from a sense of trying to create a sense of stability and something to work towards in an otherwise unorganised period of time. To try and combat this, a few summers ago I started running and, although I don’t keep up with it all year round, it is something I always return to every summer as it gives me something to work towards whilst also exploring my local area and immersing myself in the countryside.

Despite being excited to go back to the peace and quiet of the countryside at the end of my first year, I found going back home to the Scottish Borders after ‘living it up’ in Glasgow quite lonely. My relationship with my hometown has always been strained: the lack of reliable public transport and the fact that my friends were spread out across the countryside became increasingly frustrating in my last few years of high school, and the situation has not changed much since I moved away. As the unbearable Scottish summer heat wave of 2018 went on and on, I couldn’t help but feel like I was returning to my teenage days of feeling isolated in a small town.

This feeling led me to the decision to work during the Edinburgh Fringe festival, an intense yet fantastic experience that helped me regain some sense of a routine in the long summer months. Even though I was working in a food van, I felt completely immersed in the festival atmosphere. Serving all sorts of people, from industry professionals to up-and-coming comedians, really gave me an insight into an industry I knew very little about, while also causing me to meet Tom Lenk from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which made me revert to a completely star-struck version of my 15-year-old self. Working in a big city whilst commuting from my small town was the perfect option for me: I was able to experience the nature I missed whilst living in Glasgow as well as the buzz that comes with a big city. 

Following on from last summer, I’ve decided to work during the festival season again this year, but this time for the entire summer period. I haven’t decided exactly where I’m going to live, but with more university friends staying in Glasgow over summer, I’m intent on spending my time in both my hometown and Glasgow, even if the commute will be tedious. 

Summer is always going to be a strange time for me. In spite of this, I hope that, with this summer having a more structured routine, I won’t feel as intimidated by the sudden independence as I have previously done, finally easing the internal pressure I tend to put on myself and letting myself relax guilt-free. And who knows, maybe this will be the summer where I finally finish my Nintendo DS Pokémon Diamond game.

[Eilidh Reid – she/her – @eilidhlesen]

[Photo credit: Christian Kortum/]

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