I’ve been working extremely hard this summer during my internship. With COVID dominating the first two years of my college experience, I haven’t really been able to connect with the professors that would usually be recommendation letter writers. This means I have to get them elsewhere, like an internship. I wrote a goal down when I first started- any project I was given would have a deadline, and I wanted to be able to turn in that project in 40% of the given time. If I was allotted two weeks, it would be done by the end of the day Thursday.
Given this exceedingly large goal, my supervisors have been generally overjoyed throughout my time there. Which is why when I asked to leave two hours early Friday to go on a little vacation, they told me to take the whole day off and have fun.
The plan – leave Friday morning at 8:30am, the same time I generally leave for work, with a car full of friends to spend the weekend at my family’s lake house. Since it’s only a three hour drive, we’ll have all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to spend doing nothing but floating on the lake.
I decided to wake up at the same time as always Friday, 6am, to pack instead of doing it Thursday evening after I was tired from my run. The next morning I woke up in an inevitable fog and, like every morning, went about my meticulous routine in the exact order I’ve been doing things since May. Brushed my teeth, washed my face, laid out a work outfit, ate breakfast, packed my work bag, and put on my work makeup… it wasn’t until I sat down to check my email that I realized this was not a typical morning. I would not be blessing the office with my presence today.
I quickly shifted gears and switched out my manilla folders full of paper and computers in my backpack with toiletries, swimsuits, and not much else. When my three friends arrived, we immediately left for the lake; work makeup still on my face.
The drive was fast, but our run through the house to drop off our bags, change into swimsuits, and hit the dock was even faster. Due to my toxically competitive personality, I was the first person down to the dock, and the first one to perform a running cannonball into the lake below, letting the water flow through my hair. As soon as my head was submerged in water, my nonwaterproof makeup started loosening up. I went underwater and scrubbed my face with my hands. The next time I emerged from the water, I had washed all my work makeup off using lake water.
I had met all of my friends swimming next to me in different clubs in college that had nothing to do with academics or the world of work. Lacrosse club, rock climbing club, art swaps… all things that are generally, in our world, categorized as a bit “juvenile”. None of them knew me as the intern, always with the perfect presentation, the perfect work, and the perfect makeup. They weren’t expecting me to be anyone except the kind of person who would wash off their corporate makeup with dirty lake water, a kind of refreshing realization since these are not the kind of people I’ve been predominantly surrounded with while working full time. They were the kind of friends who would tell embarrassing stories to future boyfriends about the time I made them run around outside with me during a tornado warning or casually dropping into conversation that I had photographed Ross Lynch for a photoshoot a month earlier and wouldn’t mention anything about my GPA or resume.
It felt good to be around these people and wash something so professional away with something seemingly childish. I’ve been thinking about the mental health of college students who complete an internship every summer they’re in college, meaning they never get a break. They grow up and have to become independent so young as they’re living in different cities than their parents and cannonballing into the working world at only 19. You’re constantly wanting to be independent and show you can do the work of an adult, while watching your years of being able to be dependent slowly flowing through your fingers.
I’ve been personally struggling with it, which makes me think a lot of other people are too. Trying to balance being independent with allowing my parents to do things for me while I’m still young. It’s hard to find a balance though, seemingly impossible.
To be honest, I have absolutely no idea how to find that balance in my life. The more I think about it, the more questions and rifts arise. So for now, I’m just going to keep swimming in this lake, drinking my pink lemonade.
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