Help a teenager make the most of his summer.
June 16, 2007 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Help a teenager make the most of his summer

This summer will be my first truly free summer; before this I had always been carted away to various camps and activities, and with my newfound 16 years of age I've been deemed by my parents "free". I'm CITing at a camp I used to go to, but that is really my only required activity all summer. I haven't gotten a job, which isn't optimal but isn't the end of the world either.

So, my question: If you, with your experience now, had a free summer, what would you do with it? What activities and skills would you learn? What books would you read? What articles online would you read? Any blogs to subscribe to? Life long habits and hobbies to form?

A little background on me, to guide your insights. I'll be a junior next year (the whole college process has to start sometime). I think I probably want to do something with technology; I have done a lot with web design in the past (CMSs and the sort) but I realize now that programming is not my favorite thing to do and instead I prefer being an idea guy. In high school, I've got a good set of friends but I could always be more confident and persuasive; I'm kind of quirky (in their eyes). Anything else I can tell you that I haven't already, let me know.
posted by zenja72 to Human Relations (35 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, one critical thing; how to make sure I stay on track? I've created an excel file with ideas and things to do, etc. and I've started a journal. But ideas on scheduling and motivation may be helpful.

Thanks :)
posted by zenja72 at 8:47 AM on June 16, 2007

18 here, just graduated highschool...I know what you mean well to do something in the summer, and before you know it, it's all gone.

I heard something relatively recently (and maybe someone here will know what it was) but it was something about taking every week in a year and using it to learn a different skill--so one week, you might learn how to juggle, and the next, you might learn how to take better photos with a digital camera, or something. Obviously, some things might take longer; learning a musical instrument would be a great thing to do but you'd need a lot more than one week to do could do it concurrently with the other activities though.

The basic idea is that by the end of the summer/year, you have all of these fun little skills, many of which are useful in real life. I think it's a great idea, and I actually think I'm going to start doing it myself.

If anyone knows where that actually came from, please enlighten us.
posted by DMan at 8:58 AM on June 16, 2007

Oh, didn't see the part about staying on track.

Maybe a good plan there would be to tell a friend or someone about it, and keep corresponding with them over the summer. Make a point of telling them what you've accomplished, and kind of use them to "keep you honest" and focused on your goals. That's how it was for me when I was taking guitar lessons--I practiced so much more, because I know I was going to have my lesson once a week, and that my teacher would want to see what I had done. I didn't want to disappoint him.

Maybe that would work for you, too.
posted by DMan at 9:02 AM on June 16, 2007

You seem like a really gung-ho and driven individual, zenja72, good for you.

In a few years you will have more work and study than you can eat, why not be "free", as your parents have suggested? There's nothing wrong with relaxing, sleeping in, not having a filled schedule every minute of every day.

Have you tried mushrooms or LSD? Summer holiday is a great time for tripping, because you will be able to sleep in the next day, and the empty schedule allows more time for post-trip reflection.

Enjoy your summer! Good luck.

(be aware that psychedellic drugs may not be legal in your jurisdiction; I am a priest but I am not your priest - this information should not be taken as spiritual advice and is provided for infotainment purposes only)
posted by Meatbomb at 9:09 AM on June 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

As an 18 year old in the middle of his first "not free" summer (working full-time for the first time in my life is killing my fun) I can honestly say I know where you're at... and kind of envy you for it, hehe.

Sounds like you've got some ideas and energy and are on the right track! My biggest piece of advice would be to make a list of concrete things you want to do / accomplish and do them! Speaking from experience, nothing will make you feel worse than to start off the summer with a bunch of ideas, and end it saying "What did I do this summer? I wasted three months of my life doing nothing..."

Other than that, have fun! Explore! Ask a girl out! Read for fun! (And as a web-design-geek myself, I would still say to do some design just for fun, even if you do consider yourself an "idea guy" - I've found that having non-urgent web projects is a great way to problem solve, be creative, and make a product. Heck, you could even start a portfolio of your work.)

Enjoy it, man.
posted by Zephyrial at 9:15 AM on June 16, 2007

One word.......Roadtrip.

I don't know if you or have a car, but you could plan a roadtrip with your friends. I just went from South Carolina to Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio. It was fun as hell. Of course everything that could go wrong did, but that's half the fun.

If you want to get techie about it and you guys drive in multiple cars, set up an ad-hoc network and chat or play lan games to pass the time.
posted by rancidchickn at 9:20 AM on June 16, 2007

Turn your computer off. I was lucky to be a teenager for many summers in the era before computing and the internet took over other activities.
posted by fire&wings at 9:22 AM on June 16, 2007

Best answer: Do something useless but spectacular.

It's great that you want to get the most out of your summer, but don't worry too much about self-improvement, or what you -should- be doing. I've found (in my limited 23 years of experience) that my best memories are the ones where I was caught up in some stupid, creative project.

For instance, when I turned 18, my friend and I bought some cigarettes. But, being non-smokers with no interest in starting, we turned them into little nicotine-based dolls. Another time, my friend and I worked on (but never finished) an animation about the island country of Sealand and the guy named Roy who rules it (look it up!). Another friend of mine, during a free summer, made a 3' tall gargoyle out of torn up sheets and glue -- I have it in my house now, and it's one of my favourite things. That same friend now also knows how to make the perfect potato gun, after a summer when he and his father made prototype after prototype.

These are only some of the things my friends and I have done, but they give you an idea, I think, of what I mean. You'll find out more about yourself, have a great time, and actually learn some useful (if eclectic) skills in the process. Furthermore, it'll just be whatever you find fun. At the end of the summer, you may not be able to speak any new languages or put anything on your resume, but, trust me, it'll stick with you in a good way for the rest of your life.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:28 AM on June 16, 2007

Best answer: I'm having exactly the same problem (except for being female). Despite my best intentions, though, I haven't managed to successfully change any of my habits. With that in mind, I've been wanting to:
-Start and maintain a blog - this hasn't worked out at all, but you might find better luck with it.
-Learn a foreign language? This is a little cliché, actually.
-Read a lot. This is the only part of my plan I've actually managed to maintain. Read the classics you haven't already, fantastic newer books... etc.
-Learn to cook awesome dishes. Ethnic foods? Random things you find in cookbooks? It should help later in life.
-Seconding road trip.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 10:16 AM on June 16, 2007

with cars.
and friends.
Lakes and parks.
NOT sleeping in.
posted by TomMelee at 10:39 AM on June 16, 2007

In a few years you will have more work and study than you can eat, why not be "free", as your parents have suggested? There's nothing wrong with relaxing, sleeping in, not having a filled schedule every minute of every day.

Meatbomb's right - this may be the last time in your life that you get 3 months of freedom, so make the most of it. Get drunk, fuck some people, try heroin, hitchhike, drive to Canada, sleep until mid-afternoon, basically do all of the things that you can only get away with as an irresponsible teenager. You have the rest of your life to be "productive".
posted by cmonkey at 10:43 AM on June 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

I agree with Meatbomb, you have the rest of your life to be ambitious and stressed out.

Trust me, when you hit college (or post-college), you're going to long for these days where you worry about having nothing to do. And then you'll realize how ridiculous that thinking was, especially if your parents are telling you that you're free to do whatever (I've been in your place when I was your age).

I say slow down, smell the roses, go on bike rides (even if you do do drive), make some art, learn to cook, read some books, make some nicotine dolls, etc. if you can't figure out what to do.
posted by deinemutti at 10:47 AM on June 16, 2007

The roadtrip idea really is a great one, zenja. In a few years you'll be a working stiff like the rest of us, with no time (or money!) to take off on an impulse and say, follow a band up and down the East Coast. This is what I did when I was eighteen, and it was really the best experience I ever had: I met lots of new people, heard great music, learned how to travel on the cheap by carpooling and crashing with friends in other cities, etc.

That year I also did a lot of traveling to different colleges, checking out the campuses and the communities and trying to see what I might like. At the same time, I was visiting large cities, so there were plenty of opportunities for museums and other cultural experiences.

Yes, it's great that you're driven and motivated, and for the most part it's terrific to spend the summer working on something you want to do. (The main part is to stick to a wake-up time. Set your alarm for 7:30 every morning and don't sleep in. Get showered and dressed first thing, and after that you'll be in "awake" mode.)

But please, do plan a road trip, whether it's to colleges or concerts or really anything you've been dying to do.

And finally, you might consider applying to some short summer school programs for next summer. They usually last three or four weeks and take place on college campuses. With the good ones, you can get an AP or other school credit for your work, and it's like a tiny taste of being away at school.

Good luck!
posted by brina at 10:48 AM on June 16, 2007

"I could always be more confident and persuasive" -- waiting tables is one of the jobs that gives you training in dealing with anyone that helps in these areas. And it is a job with a big turnover, so it may be worth targeting one or two places near you that might offer you the odd shift and a more regular job when someone inevitably drops out.

If you were always shipped off for the summer because the parental generation in the household were out at work, then contributing to the housework will be valuable, in any case knowing how to do the chores is useful for your future life. Improving your cooking will pay off well, but so will learning to perform other household tasks efficiently.

If you are used to your time always being filled with activities, after school and Saturdays as well as your summers, then having lots of time free to just do nothing is a great opportunity for you to learn more self-management. There is no need to program yourself too strictly, in fact it is how well you can manage soft time constraints and switch out of leisure mode that counts.
posted by Idcoytco at 11:11 AM on June 16, 2007

Read, read, read.

What you do now will really shape you. Try some of the literature and philosophy 'survey' books. The Norton anthologies are great.

Read Steinbeck, Conrad, Melville, Hardy, Homer.

Learn to develop a critical mind so that you can wade through the mass of bullshit out there.

Please nurture your love of ideas. (As you get to understand the roots of rhetoric, you will become more confident and persuasive- you'll have the tools!)
posted by solongxenon at 11:40 AM on June 16, 2007

My first advice is -- Don't try heroin.

If you really want to be an idea guy, you'll want to get started now on figuring out how to persuade other people that your ideas are good, because in the world at large, execution is often worth more than ideas.

Improving your persuasive skills is one way to do that, but it's also worth working on your execution skills. Work on your programming, because a working prototype that someone can try is often more persuasive than the slickest pitch. Learn something about making a business case for your ideas, because people who might put time or money into making your idea happen are going to want to know what the return on their investment is going to be.

But most of all, indulge the opportunity to explore things without worrying what the exact payoff is going to be. Pick a direction and go for it, but if along the way you find something more interesting feel free to explore it. Just don't waste your time playing XBox, smoking pot and eating fritos (speaking as someone who wasted plenty of time in High School). Do something.
posted by Good Brain at 11:59 AM on June 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nthing the road trip idea. If you have access to a car and a little money (depending on the nature of the trip, you may only need enough for gas and a bit of food), you can have an absolute ball. I didn't do much non-family travel until I hit my 20s, and I have always wished I'd done more when it didn't mean lost wages and a huge hassle.

Since you use the term "junior" I am assuming you're in the USA. Try Roadside America to get ideas for awesome-but-cheap roadtrips.

I'd also encourage you to do some volunteering. Do something for a community and/or non-profit organization you like (Habitat for Humanity, food bank, local theatre, arts organizations, public library, science center, animal shelter, whatever interests you). Usually people volunteer a set number of hours at the same time every week (I used to do four hours every Tuesday afternoon doing data entry for the Discovery Center, an interactive science museum, and it got me my first office job when I needed a summer job during university), but some organizations need "on call" volunteers too, so just find out what their needs are.

This has several benefits: (1) it looks awesome on college applications (and later when job hunting), (2) it feels good to give back to your community, (3) it's a vastly better kind of skills-building experience than the paying jobs available to 16-year-olds, (4) it'll give you a preview of the kind of work there is out there and help you figure out what sorts of tasks you like (which is a big help when you're figuring out what sort of career you want to have) and (5) you'll meet really cool people.

Expect a breaking-in period where you're given more basic stuff to do (stuffing envelopes, re-shelving books, or whatever) while they determine that you're bright enough and reliable enough to give higher-level work to. Don't be afraid to tell them if you hate the stuff they have you doing - most places will work to retain a reasonably bright volunteer who shows up on time - but do be willing to do some of the shittier jobs as well as the cool stuff, because somebody has to.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:04 PM on June 16, 2007

Learn an instrument if you can't play anything yet, but as the other people have said just get outside and chill.

I'm seventeen, going in to my senior year of high school, and from experience I can say you want to avoid too much work if it's reasonable. Don't get a full time job, because I tried it last summer and it ruined the whole season for me. Part time waiting tables is a good thought.

If you're American and you don't have a license yet, GET ONE. You need a license in 90% of America if you want to do anything fun. In the other 10% it's just nice to have. I've noticed among all of my friends that the funny, interesting people without fail are the ones with licenses.

Speaking of which, hang with a new crowd if you can. Not exclusively, just make a few new friends to change things up. The kind of people you might not usually hang out with, as long as they aren't criminals.
posted by sandswipe at 12:28 PM on June 16, 2007

Roadtrip, sex, swimming, fun with animals and people, beach, get in some trouble, do illegal things but be harmless to self or others, read, also sex, and a roadtrip. May I suggest an amusement park?
posted by disclaimer at 12:43 PM on June 16, 2007

Several recommended road trips. I do not know where you live but at 16 years of age how can you make a road trip. How do you get an unrestricted drivers license at 16. Not here.
posted by JayRwv at 12:44 PM on June 16, 2007

How do you get an unrestricted drivers license at 16.

I had one at 16. It wouldn't let me drive in the wee hours of the morning (I think, between 11 and 5), but I still was allowed to drive by myself. I think the larger problem with a roadtrip is finding hotels that will rent to people under 18.
posted by oaf at 12:56 PM on June 16, 2007

I gotta' agree that roadtrips aren't the easiest/safest things to plan when you're only 16 years old. My parents wouldn't let me go on one when I was a teen, and I completely understand why. Your parents probably wouldn't find you taking a few days to be alone in a car with some friends the most reassuring plan, either. However, if you live anywhere around a large metropolitan area, there're tons of little, small trips you can take that'll be really fun. Just drive down a freeway you haven't taken before and see where you get after an hour or so. Or look online and see what tiny, quirky museums there are around you.

Also: really? HEROIN? Oh, come on.
posted by Ms. Saint at 12:59 PM on June 16, 2007

Study a language. Besides the many benefits of learning a foreign language (google if you really want to know), language study will structure your days so that you don't have the temptation to sleep in past noon and is also something that gives you time to do other things (I find I can only really effectively study for about 2 hours a day and then my mind fills up and I need to do something else). If you move fast you might also be able to sign up for your local college courses in the language of your choice.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:10 PM on June 16, 2007

3 words: sex, drugs, rock and roll (ok sorry 5 words)
posted by mrmarley at 2:09 PM on June 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everybody for your replies. Just a few thoughts:

No, I'm not going to try LSD, shrooms, or heroin. Thanks though.

A roadtrip is not going to happen.

Also, I really DO want to structure my time; I want to learn a lot, and I have a lot of fun when I'm structuring my time. Don't worry, I'll have plenty of fun this summer along with the learning. My friends are here.

I'd like to emphasize the habits/hobbies to form part too, no one has really touched that.

Thanks again.
posted by zenja72 at 3:58 PM on June 16, 2007

you could try organising events or doing social/community work? i organised a charity music festival when i was 16; it was so much fun and i learnt a lot while doing that - like how to persuade people/companies to sponsor your event, how to source around for the equipment needed, how to network and build contacts and improve my interpersonal skills (since i had to force myself to talk to many different kinds of people), plan and schedule and draw up proper business proposals etc, how to handle money and keep financial records etc... and it also involved a lot of creativity in coming up with ideas to pull the whole thing off.
i started out with almost zero knowledge of how to go about doing it all; it was very much a learning-by-doing process. and apart from learning all those skills, i think i also gained a greater heart and awareness for certain social/charitable causes.
posted by aielen at 4:22 PM on June 16, 2007

What would you do with it?

- Take a fun community college class - dance?
- Make something and sell it on Etsy
- Get a bicycle if getting a car isn't an option
- Go swimming, hiking, and camping

Mostly, I think, I'd just relax and enjoy the time off; better, none of the above, really, would require lots of money.
posted by mdonley at 5:08 PM on June 16, 2007

If you get yourself used to exercising several times a week and sleeping at least eight hours a night (but not more than ten), your body will thank you endlessly in the years to come.
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:29 PM on June 16, 2007

Work out. Get ripped.
posted by ruwan at 6:27 PM on June 16, 2007

Things that you can do now which will make your college years and beyond better:

* Figure out what exactly it is that you love to do. This makes college seem less like a maze.

* Start learning a foreign language. The earlier you start, the better because it takes several years. This is especially true of languages which use a different alphabet (I'm staring straight at you, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, ...)

* Learn how to write well. Regardless of profession, those who can clearly articulate their thoughts are highly sought-after.

* Travel abroad while its still feasible.
posted by mezamashii at 7:32 PM on June 16, 2007

Have you got family sprawled across the country, or any friends who have moved away and not seen in a while? Buy a train ticket to destination X and go hang out for a few weeks.

I've done a couple of 9-12 hour train trips to go see some family when I was 16-17, and they were awesome. Yeah, it probably would have been easier to buy a plane ticket, but not nearly as much fun. The people I met on the train were great, and hanging out with my cousins who I don't see on a regular basis (or, if I do, with the rest of my rather large family around) was just good fun. And its the closest you'll get to a road trip for a couple of years yet. =]
posted by cholly at 8:38 PM on June 16, 2007

If you have a decent public library nearby, become a frequent flyer there. It'll get you out of the house, and libraries have a ton of resources for you to investigate.

One lifelong habit to begin this summer is a serious investigation and appreciation of music. If you don't play an instrument yet, I agree with the advice that you should choose one to study, and try to acquire one, and begin taking lessons. But you should also start listening to good music regularly, and by that, for now, I mean what others with more knowledge deem "good." In this summer, you could work your way through all the Beethoven symphonies at the rate of one a week, if you did them on Sunday afternoons. If you could add a couple hours on Tuesday nights to your classical schedule, you could make a big dent in the works of J.S. Bach, too. Or Brahms, or Mozart. And if you throw in a couple more hours on Thursdays, you could hear almost everything George and Ira Gershwin wrote, and a good bit of what Duke Ellington has to offer. But basically, you're developing a habit of making appointments with yourself to consider music as part of your life. And for reasons neurologists and brain researchers don't fully understand, the effort to understand music will affect your brain organization, and may very well make you somewhat smarter. Your local library probably has a pretty good collection of CDs you can check out to help you get started. A decent CD player and set of headphones can be had at Walmart for $20, if you're not already equipped. Don't get sidetracked on esoteric stuff, either. Get a decent start on the basics, and keep plugging away at them, as your summer self-improvement project. No one "gets" this stuff completely on the first hearing, but exposing yourself to it is so worthwhile. You might want to add a decent biography of whatever composer(s) you choose for your listening project, to flesh out your understanding of the life, or lives, from which that music came. You may need some basic explanations of musical terms and ideas, which you can get from the Web and from books introducing music theory. Again, you shouldn't mind not understanding everything, all at once. It takes years to master all this stuff, which is what makes it a worthwhile endeavor in the first place. And you'll still have plenty of time for mindless, fun, disposable pop music junk, too.

Pick an author you like with some depth, who can tell stories, and cover all his/her output. I'll suggest Mark Twain, because he's my favorite writer, and because there is a tremendous amount of stuff for a 16 year old boy to get from his work. Great, great stuff, that makes me wish, fervently, to have your fresh eyes for his pages, and a summer to give to him. Again, your library is bound to contain everything of Mark Twain's you'll have time to read.

I'd also suggest, even this late in the growing season, that you see about becoming, on some scale, however small, a gardener, or a helper to experienced gardeners. It's not a typical teenage endeavor, because it calls for a certian maturity, and the dedication to care for a piece of ground, and observe results, and diagnose problems, and fix them. You probably will kill some plants, because every gardner kills plants in their first seasons. But if you start trying to take care of even 10 square feet of this earth, you'll learn a great deal about taking care of the rest of it, and of yourself, that you can learn no other way.

Enjoy your summer! Make it memorable!
posted by paulsc at 9:37 PM on June 16, 2007

Work out because it will never be easier for you to get/stay in shape - just don't make the mistake of thinking the biggest guy in the gym is the best trainer. Healthy mind = healthy body, and you will need this for the future.

You don't need to stress about careers or schools yet, but if you want some practical advice - start to "network", that is generally meet people and have adventures. Take art classes you like (dance is good, you'll get to touch girls), read for pleasure lots, join sports teams, or volunteer for causes/organizations you like. This way you will meet people, which at your age is important and when you get your first job interviews after you finish university/college you will have things to discuss and be able to set yourself apart from everyone else who went to high school and then went to university and earned some credential. This will have the good side effect of building your "soft skills" and showing you are well rounded. If your school has a work experience program, participate in it -- and don't worry too much about making an impact -- just be pleasant and do the tasks you are assigned (don't piss off the lifers, anywhere).

Whatever you do, don't express your "quirky side" by getting involved with geek culture: medieval recreationists, rpg groups, anything which involves operating systems or wearing science fiction props - you will be judged by the company you company you keep, and these folks will tend to put you outside the mainstream and it will be damn hard to reform your image even if they have good minds and seem quite sweet. As a rule of thumb, if there are no women around, or educated-yet-unemployed people over the age of 25 you are probably dealing with a group that you will pick up bad habits from. Full disclosure: A 31 year old me with a time machine would beat my 16 year old ass until I accepted that advice.

You mentioned an interest in technology. As a systems analyst, I can tell you that young computer buffs tend to think they have to know computer systems forwards and backwards - it is more important to be a good logical thinker and to be able to look at a problem from a number of angles - be well-rounded, when you need some obscure specs or bit of information you can look that shit up in a manual (and what I do is not recreation, it is pro-ball - the priority set is way different - hobby techs never know this). Live to fullest and develop your interests, this is what will make you useful as you move from a boy to a man.
posted by Deep Dish at 11:33 PM on June 16, 2007

Best answer: Some great advice up above-- I second basically everything that's legal and promotes mental or physical growth. I have a few specific suggestions of things I'd do if I had this summer off, and that I am doing, albeit at a slower pace due to work and all that.

1) Decimate the St. John's College reading lists. If you discover something you didn't know fascinated you, set the list aside and explore it to your heart's content. Extra recommendations: the Qur'an, the Tao Teh Ching (really any of these that interest you,) Wittgenstein.

2) Volunteering, particularly outside whatever is familiar to you, can teach you so much. Any kind, as joannemerriam says, looks good on your resume, but if possible, consider choosing something that brings you into regular contact with whomever will be benefited by your employer. If you only want to do a little good, help from a distance, but if you want to do good and change yourself in the process, I've found you have to do it face-to-face. Places I've done it and would recommend: nursing homes, cancer ward, building/renovating homes with the families who would live there. A good side effect of having a regular commitment like volunteering is that it helps you structure the rest of your time.

3) For confidence, expose yourself (figuratively). Look into a local Toastmasters group; a few of them let people under 18 participate. If that's no good, try some acting. Taking an audition-preparation class was one of the best things I ever did at 16. Utter terror before every session turned into a shaky realization that I could survive throwing away large portions of my pride in front of groups of people. Helped me to stop flipping out about how others might view me.

4) Regarding fear, examine yours. Think about which ones are logical, which ones are irrational, which ones you might possibly be better without. Make specific plans to eradicate them by facing them. For example, my anxiety about hospitals and most things medical prompted me to sign up for a medical study which required overnight stays, MRIs, and plenty o' needles. Yes, my family thought I was nuts, but it worked-- I now take my shots without fear and donate blood regularly. The $500 compensation didn't hurt either. I used that to take some basic sailing lessons, during which I practiced capsizing as much as they'd let me. I still don't like deep murky water, but now I have solid proof that it's not likely to kill me.

5) Set yourself a list of practical skills to learn, if you're not strong in certain departments. Success isn't a strict requirement, but familiarity is. Basic cooking techniques, for example. A week's worth of different types of ordinary meals is an admirable goal, but if you have absolutely no knowledge, focus on the egg, the chicken, real pasta, the potato, and the basic preparation of whatever fruits and vegetables you like. Learn to clean your house or apartment or whatever, thoroughly, from top to bottom. Build a basic bookshelf, repair holes in walls, prime and paint walls, hang a door, etc. Hem pants, sew buttons back on, patch tears. Learn to meditate until you can slow your heartbeat (when it's racing, obviously). If you have the opportunity, get lost somewhere (take a friend, take a cell phone) and find your way back with maps or a compass.

6) Random: Netflix account, and movies you've always wanted to watch or feel you should watch or that your friends insist you watch. If you have a favorite author, write to him/her. Keep a budget, review it daily. Definitely use something like tadalist or better to organize your goals-- I'd be lost without it. If there's an older person you admire who'd be willing to talk with you every week or so, awesome. Otherwise, you have us, for whatever that's worth. :D

The overall point of this longwinded list is that you can learn to be as confident and capable as you'd like, to the point where you can take on practically anything with a minimum amount of freaking out. That's the best use of free time-- this summer or any time-- that I can think of, and it's satisfying, rewarding, and surprisingly fun.

fwiw I'm 25, female, and have as yet discovered no tolerable way to get over fear of Clock Spider.
posted by Gingersnap at 1:53 PM on June 17, 2007

Nthing having a regular sleep schedule. For instance, going to bed at 1AM and waking up at 9 still gets you 8 hours of sleep, and you'll still have a few hours of morning. It does wonders to create structure for your day.

For sticking to your schedule of whatever you decide to do, definitely either go over it with someone or find a buddy, for instance. Someone upthread mentioned exercise, which I think is a great idea; If you bike ride every morning at 10AM with your friend from down the street, you'll most likely be awake and riding on time more often than if you went by yourself.

This doesn't have much to do with your actual activity, but have you ever wanted to change your appearance drastically? When I had a free summer, I dyed all 2 feet of my hair blue using a semi-permanent (2 months or so) dye, and loved it. This is a great time to do something wacky with your appearance, because well...what do you have to lose?

Also, your daily routine doesn't necessarily have to be exercise early in the morning if you're not up for it. If you're a caffiene addict, you could go to a local coffee shop daily and make friends with the barista. Someone above mentioned becoming a repeat library customer, and that's a great idea too (and also less costly).

Above all, though, make it a goal to leave your place of residence at least once a day. It is a major key to sanity for me, and is definitely a great way to keep the days from melting into each other.
posted by mismatched at 9:14 AM on June 18, 2007

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