– David Bowie and Mick Jagger, ‘Dancing in the Street’
Ah, summer: a time for frolicking in the sunshine, relaxing by the pool, road-tripping with friends (and, if you’re anything like Jagger and Bowie, dancing in the street.)
So where does work-related stress fit into that mix?
Whether it be from parents, from society at large, or even from yourself, there is a great deal of pressure placed on us as students to find a summer job. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, being that the months between May and September typically provide students with more free time than we know what to do with; so why not utilize that time to gain some experience – and maybe even some cash?
Working is important to building not only an impressive resume but also a valuable skill set that can used in areas of your life outside of the workplace as well as in it. Having a regimented schedule during the summer also pushes you to use your time wisely (I know myself that I would undoubtedly sleep in until 2:00 PM every day if I didn’t have a summer job!)
But we have to keep in mind: working isn’t everything.
Sometimes it feels as though there is an unspoken contest going on between students in regards to who can be the busiest, who can appear the most stressed out, who can do everything and do it all exceptionally well. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed this phenomenon, but it seems like most of the time when someone is complaining about how busy they are, they’re actually sort of gloating.
I feel that this underlying glorification of business and stress can be quite detrimental to young people. We are told over and over again that our years spent in college are the best years of our lives, filled with memories of things that we won’t be as able to do once we graduate and enter the “real world.” Still, though, it sometimes seems like we are trying to rush to run into that world, one faster and more “accomplished” than the other.
Not to get all existential over here, but what’s it all for? In the grand scheme of things, taking a few extra days off from work to spend quality time with your friends is nothing to feel shameful about; you may not make as much money as you might have, but what you’ll end up gaining in memories is more valuable to your psyche than that cash would have been to your bank account.
Now, I know with this logic, one could argue, “Well then, what’s the point of working at all?” Like I mentioned above, I do think that working has valuable benefits: developing professional skills, gaining job experience, and, yes, earning money. I just don’t feel that the stresses of work should always take precedent over taking care of yourself and enjoying your free moments outside of the stresses of school.
I also understand that I’m coming from a privileged place in having the ability to choose whether I want to work or not, as so many people cannot even consider that as an option. Although my family is definitely not the wealthiest around, we have enough to send me to this school and still get by without too much worry. Even so, they have always stressed to me the importance of remembering to make a life while trying to make a living. We didn’t always have a lot, but we’ve always had each others’ love and affection, and that makes me feel like the richest girl in the world.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is precisely what my parents imparted to me so many times: remember to make a life whilst trying to make a living. Stress is not to be romanticized and exalted above all else. You are not less than someone else because you work fewer hours than they do, or because your job is not as strenuous as theirs. Keep in mind that you’re only young (at least physically-speaking) for a finite period of time, and so you should enjoy it while you can.
This summer, after you work in the office, don’t forget to take the time to dance in the street.