Summer vacation has been a sacred entity of time worshipped by students since Kindergarten. Homework, early mornings and cold lunches were replaced with swimming, video games and day-long play-dates. Summer was always a time to relax with zero responsibility. In college (and sometimes high school), this dreamy utopia drifts away, instead replaced with nepotistic internships and counting down the days until the weekend.
Of course, you still get to spend time with your high school friends, if you’re lucky enough to be home for the summer. If you’re one of the unlucky ones stuck alone in a foreign city, you can’t wait for the school year to start up again. The common theme is that you long for the simple times: dripping popsicles on your shirt and sweating collectively into the community pool. You miss your college friends and would happily trade one of your paychecks for a margarita Monday night at Loco.
Then there’s the rare breed of summer vacationers, the ones that have made upgrades to their summer spectaculars, trading out old pools with the running waters of gorges and internships for casual classes. The Cornellians who stay.
The rest of us are left to hide in the bathroom during work hours to check our phones and take a break. As we feel our whole souls have been sucked from our bodies by employers (especially you finance sell-outs), we take solace in seeing others endure the same pain as us. Misery loves company. So our hearts break when we open Instagram or Snapchat to see a handful of our friends picnicking at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, with a beautiful charcuterie board laid out in front of them.
No one wants to see someone else having fun when they’re not. Everyone has a specific fear, whether it be spiders, heights or the dark, but the fear of missing out is utterly universal. It would be hard enough continuing on with our workweek just knowing this group of Cornellians was out there, but those sick bastards take every chance they get to rub it in.
I have a good friend — well, now she’s more of an acquaintance — who spent her summer in Ithaca this year. The usual dopamine hit associated with a text notification was tainted for me, as I always dreaded receiving one from her. She texted me when she went to First Dam, and Second, and Third. She texted me when she went to the Corning Museum (I think she made that one up) and she texted me about how much nicer the farmer’s market is during the summer. I have heard so many stories about the beauty of Ithaca when the weather’s nice, I feel like I don’t need to go experience it for myself. But maybe that’s just what I tell myself to get through the workweek.
I’m not alone, many of my unfortunate friends complain about the constant bombardment on social media. It only gets worse when we come back for school. You can always turn your phone on silent, but you can’t escape a mouthy summer Cornellian.
To make matters worse, they come back as a clan. People who have never met before are now best friends and always “have to see what Dylan’s up to.” Well, guess what Dylan, I have money to spend this year. Want to waste money on subpar bagels from CTB? I do.
They made sure to tell me that the best part was how many new, amazing people they met without me. As the many-faced god worshippers from Game of Thrones would put it, a boy feels so alone. If I had to spend another three months studying, I wouldn’t be able to survive a year at Cornell. Good thing the summer studiers let us know they’re okay by reassuring us how relaxed the classes are.
I don’t want to hear about anyone’s splendidly pleasant summer. Maybe that makes me a bad person; maybe I’m incapable of empathy; maybe I’ve heard the same story one too many times. I think a little more empathy needs to come from our counterparts. You Cornellians that now think you’re Ithaca-locals have lived it up, and made sure to let the rest of us know. Congratulations on beating us at summer, I’ll see you in a few weeks. I’ll be the guy getting over a cold, after having spent a summer in San Francisco.
AJ Stella is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stellin’ It Like It Is runs every other Friday this semester.