Summer is coming to an end. And so are your bittersweet last moments at home before you go off to college. You may be excited, nervous, sad, or some combination of those and other feelings. You’ve probably read a dozen articles about preparing your first time away from home and checklists of what to take to college and saying goodbye to all of your high school friends. Sure, planning your time at college and preparing yourself is important, but this is the last time you’ll truly be free. Henceforth, your summers will be filled with jobs, internships, and semi-adult stuff. So enjoy your last days at home. Make memories that you can share with your new friends at college.
So what can you do? Pretty much anything. If you don’t have a car, attach yourself to someone who does and go on spontaneous adventures. In the two weeks before I went to college, I made more memories and met more people than I had all summer. I remember sitting in my favorite coffee shop, and getting a sudden urge to drive. I called my boss to tell her I’m taking the day after off, and started driving. I stopped at two of my friends’ houses, picked them up, and got on the freeway and just drove away. We drove without navigation and without any idea when we’d stop. Some five hours later, we took the first exit we had seen for about 20 miles. By talking to the locals, we realized we were just near the border of Georgia and Florida, about half an hour from Fernandina Beach. So we did what any reasonable group of teenagers would, and drove there. We ended up staying three nights on that beach, meeting different people everyday. We crashed on different couches every night and for those three days, the three of us forgot that we wouldn’t see each other again until at least Thanksgiving break.
I’m not advocating that you should take offers from random people to crash on their couches or that you stop caring about your responsibilities or try to forget that you are leaving home. I’m just advocating that you make the most of your time left before college hits you in the face with its workload and responsibilities. If you’re looking for ideas on what you can do:
Visit places from your childhood.
Go to your elementary school’s playground. Go check out what happened to those places you’ve forgotten about. A wave of childhood nostalgia can be really refreshing.
Talk to people you haven’t in a while.
This will also probably knock you over with memories from the past, especially once you start recounting stories with your old friends.
Try something you’ve never tried before.
In celebration of college, where pretty much everything will be new, try a restaurant you have never been to. Try talking to strangers (but don’t get in their van if they offer you candy). Try a different route to work. Try going to your friend group’s favorite hangout place by yourself.
Write a story, or a book.
You might not consider yourself much of a writer, but your readers might disagree. Write about your life so far. Write about where you want to be in the future. Write a completely fictional account about you getting kidnapped about aliens. Write about your hometown.
Go somewhere without planning.
Close your eyes, point, and spin. When you open your eyes, travel in that direction, by driving, walking, or horseback riding. Don’t stop until you can’t recognize where you are. It’ll be an adventure.
You’re at a place where most people consider themselves to be adults and able to support themselves or whatever. Those people are wrong, of course; you (and I) have ways to go before we’re grown-ups, but it’s kind of exciting to think otherwise. It’s, obviously, your choice whether you decide to stay home and binge watch How I Met Your Mother or to actually lick the Liberty Bell. But once you go to college, your breaks will probably include lots of work, or some resume building stuff, or traveling to places other than your home (except spring break; those will still be ratchet). So take what little of high school life you have left, and help yourself make peace with your departure by doing things you never will again. I know this sounds like it came from a teenager with an infinity tattoo and a flower crown, but in the couple of weeks before you go to college, teach yourself how to live.
P.S. Stop Instagramming your adventures. Just keep it in your memories.