Chronicles of the Classic Overthinker – No. 2

A series of columns by classic overthinker Reagan Smith


Smoke Signals graphic by Reagan Smith

Reagan Smith

Every single year, without fail, the joyous season of summer comes to a close and the majority of us are left with the guilt of all the things unfinished. If only you had made time for that new hobby or gone to that spontaneous movie night, you would be a more accomplished human being, not to mention more interesting. 

The summer season for students is supposed to be a time for rest and fun-filled days; though with each coming year our world is witnessing a sad change in how those of us from younger generations are spending our summer months. Every second that can be spared is being used by a majority of America’s youth to “get a leg up on the competition” as we prepare to enter the workplace or a college career, respectively. 

There are countless factors that add into the effect of feeling like you have not worked hard enough to be something, starting as young as in your early teen years. For the most part the feeling of low-self worth in American adolescents is completely due to the crushing reality of what here in the U.S. is known by so many as our beloved “American Dream.”

For the most part, even during breaks, the unconscious motivation behind the unending need to be productive can also be reflected in the way many of us grew up watching older generations.  We regularly witnessed and idealized pretty unrealistic routines of individuals being extremely productive, edited together with only the highlights of their week being shown on social media.

You may be relieved to find that the guilt you harbor over all of the summers you “wasted” is shared by a multitude of individuals.

Many of you flicking through this article could probably use a reminder about a crucial piece of information to remember: Sometimes doing absolutely nothing can be the most productive thing you can do for yourself. Whether it be curling up and reading a book for hours on end or having a Harry Potter movie marathon, if it makes you happy then you should learn to appreciate these times and consider them productive.

It is all about transforming your mindset on what you would normally consider “productive.” However, if you are anything like me, this is not anywhere near as simple as it sounds and I would recommend taking it in phases. 

An easy method of how you could do this would be multitasking. While you have a movie on in the background or a podcast that you enjoy, you may choose something to keep your hands busy with something  like that game you never make time to play on your Nintendo Switch or a coloring book. 

Whatever you choose to do is completely up to you, though this approach should help you ease into evolving your mindset regarding productivity until you are able to sit and focus solely on one thing that brings you joy without feeling guilt.

After becoming conscious of this annual remorse I was taking on over extremely insignificant things I never accomplished or completed, I realized what I was doing was pointless. Feeling this guilt helped me gain nothing when all was said and done. Once this realization was reached, I strode toward feeling happiness for all the great moments I had throughout my summer season instead of my typically eternal guilt for all the things left unfinished.