Aleteia

Disappointed with your summer so far? Here’s how to redeem it

SUMMER
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If you feel like you’re failing at summer, try refocusing using these three tips.

Has this been one of those summers that’s disappointed you?

Maybe you really wanted this to be the summer when you felt confident and attractive while wearing a swimsuit — and that never happened. Maybe you dreamed of a beautiful beach vacation, but the few days off you took ended up being for an unexpected funeral. Or maybe you did get to take a vacation, but you were anxious, bored, or frustrated the whole time. So now whenever you hear someone talk about the amazing vacation they had, or see pictures of people looking carefree and attractive in their swimwear, you feel a pang of “why wasn’t that me?” envy.

However you feel that you failed at summer, or that summer failed you, know that what you’re feeling is normal. But that doesn’t mean you have to continue to dwell on how much it stank. Here are three ways to refocus what’s left of the summer season …

First off, stop pretending everyone else is having a perfect summer.

People are not going to lead with “I went to a beautiful beach paradise but wasn’t able to sleep the whole time and had terrible gas that prevented me from relaxing and enjoying the beach for most of the trip.” Instead, they’ll tell you about the highlights of the trip and the best memories.

Even the most wonderful of vacations still has some bumps and complications because, well, that’s just life. Have you ever heard the phrase “Comparison is the thief of joy”? It rings true, especially when comparing other people’s best moments with your low moments. So for your sanity, peace, and spiritual health, don’t dwell on how wonderful others’ summers were compared to how disappointing yours was. 

Secondly, acknowledge what it is that’s made your summer disappointing.

Verbalize it or get it down on paper so that you understand what your expectations were, and what kept you from realizing those expectations. Did the weather keep you from plans you had made? Did you have a desire to do something, but not enough planning to make it work out? Are you strapped for cash and thus unable to the fun things you hoped to do? Were your summer plans realistic for where you are in life right now? Did you have extra stressors this summer that prevented you from enjoying or fully entering into your plans? Do you only feel accomplished or worthy when other people approve of you? Regardless, spending a little time in introspection could help you go into next summer with the self-knowledge to make it better. 

Finally, choose 3 free or inexpensive things that bring you joy to do before summer ends.

Look to see if there’s a summer concert series in a nearby city you can attend. Grab some ice cream or sorbet and enjoy it in a park alone or with friends on a warm night. Go on a long evening drive with the windows down and some fun music playing. Search “free things to do in X city” and explore the most interesting result. Stargaze and camp for the night or stargaze and drive back to the closest bug-free and air-conditioned space to sleep — whatever you prefer. 

It’s possible to use the above simple formula any time you are feeling disappointed. First, let go of envy. Second, get to the root of your frustration. Third, make new positive memories to prevent getting lost in spiral of regret and negativity. This summer may have had disappointing moments, but not all who wander in frustration are lost. Find a way to make these last warm days and weeks count!

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