You seem to be everyone’s favorite. Even if you’re not the favorite, most people – myself included – are excited when you come around. But, Summer, I’ve also got a few problems with you that I want to talk about.
Here’s the big one: you bring swimsuit season with you. While some people are excited to throw on their bikinis and frolic in blue waters, I for one, dread it. Even thinking about going somewhere where I’ll be expected to wear a bathing suit makes my palms sweat. I’ll start getting irritable, shy, and withdrawn at the mention of it. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is.
When I finally get there, I fear having my picture taken. If it is, I’ll beg the iPhone photographer to not post it on Facebook for the world to see – it’s bad enough that I feel so naked here right now. I also don’t want to be reminded of this “memory” of me in a bathing suit next year, because all that will come with it are broken heartedness and damaging self-critiques. I know a lot of people don’t understand this… fear… but I also know that a lot of people do.
There’s immense pressure from everyone around me to participate in water-based activities. Come on, everyone’s going! It’ll be so fun! Except I’ll be hiding from the cameras, waiting for the sun to go down so I can wrap myself up in a giant sweatshirt across from the campfire and not be seen. I’ll be in the bathroom pinching at the extra skin, remembering how for years I have been wishing it away, yet, here it is, sitting comfortably at home on my hips.
Finally, there’s the envy. It doesn’t matter what size she is, it’s the confidence that makes my heart ache. How easily she can smile, laugh, and not care that her belly rolls when she leans over, or how effortlessly she walks to the buffet table for the second or third time and simply enjoys her day. I’ve wished for that for as long as I can remember. Is that what it’s like to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin?
Yet, Summer, I know it’s not you. It’s me. (Cliché, right?)
I know this, because there’s so much good in you that I’m choosing, even subconsciously, to miss out on. There’s nothing quite like the heavy heat in July that is followed by an evening storm, and the smell of the hot, wet pavement after the gray clouds dissipate is something that just makes everyone’s spirits lift. The soundtrack of a crackling fire and the chatter from friends I haven’t seen in months or years is one I could keep on repeat all year long. Everything in sight is so rich and green and breathtaking, from the mountains of New Hampshire to the palm trees of Daytona Beach, each with it’s own unique beauty.
I want to dive deep into every moment and create and savor as much happiness in the next few months as I can. It’s not about what I look like or what size my bathing suit is. It’s not about what jiggles when I walk, and it’s definitely not about that other girl’s six-pack abs and J-Lo booty. It’s not about what I eat or don’t eat at a party, and it’s not about how many margaritas I choose to enjoy on the Fourth.
It is about how many smiles I can accumulate over the next three months. It’s about the spontaneity that summer brings and not wondering if something is a “fiscally responsible” choice. It’s about swimming with the manatees and learning to surf because the opportunities are finally knocking at my door, waiting for me to open them and welcome them in. I know that I’ll regret keeping that door locked waaaay more than I’ll ever regret wearing a bathing suit in public.
I’ve come to realize, Summer, that dread has no place here. I’m sorry for the years it has taken root in, but this year, I’m going to do my best to pull up each and every last weed.
To Summer 2017,