Summer plans: A guide to fun in moderation

by Emily Fletcher | 7/14/11 10:00pm

We are supposedly at the pinnacle of our Dartmouth fun, the magical term when the stars align and NROs are rampant. If we believe what we are told, we should be filling our days with unapologetic drinking, riverside orgies and endless merriment. While most of us have already experienced some of the carefree moments of our own little summer Shangri-La, sometimes fun seems to come at the cost of too much else.

What are we willing to sacrifice in the name of fun? Every summery activity decision is like a game of would you rather: Would you rather go the Strawberry/Ice Cream/Random Delicious Food Festival or do your reading? Would you rather drink absurd and potentially dangerous amounts of alcohol or feel well rested tomorrow? Worse things have happened than missing a couple of points on a quiz or showing up five minutes late to a meeting because you decided to go to the river, but it's easy to take the last few tantalizing steps when you bring yourself to the edge of shirking important responsibilities.

Sometimes the tipping point is obvious: Drunkenly zip-lining at formal is fun, being sent home before even making it to the dance floor is not. Going blueberry picking is fun, failing a midterm as a result is not. Here I have compiled a short list of ways to avoid crossing the line.

1.Remember that other people have work, too.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person on campus who isn't sunbathing and hiking and drinking every second of every day. Decisions are based not on what will be best for me in that moment but what I feel like I should do to maximize my summer fun. But when I'm honest with myself, deciding to do something "fun" at the expense of what I actually want to do isn't fun at all.

  1. Practice moderation.

This is a good rule to live by all the time, but it especially applies to fun and debauchery. I won't even try to pretend like I'm good at this, but you should try to be! For your health and your fun-having.

3.Take time to appreciate the fun you do have.

I have a friend who likes to constantly announce how great she thinks everything is. She'll say things like, "Oh, this is such a wonderful day! I'm so happy to be here!" At first I found it a weirdly in-your-face way of expressing happiness, but I've come to like it because it's a nice reminder to appreciate happy moments. Stopping to reflect allows you to fully appreciate great experiences, but also to do something else if what you're doing isn't actually that fun.

  1. Don't be afraid to cut your losses.

Just because something is fun in theory doesn't mean it's actually fun every time you do it. Pong is especially this way for me I enjoy playing most of the time, but sometimes it just feels overly long, annoyingly competitive and kind of tedious. If something isn't enjoyable, cut your losses, do something productive (like sleep, study, or smoke) and you'll have the time and energy to seize the next opportunity that comes along.

  1. Consider how you'll feel the next day.

Before participating in any dubiously fun undertakings, think about tomorrow (sorry to rain on the carpe diem parade, but people didn't live as long in those days so they actually needed to seize the day because they might catch the plague before tomorrow) and how you'll feel. This useful strategy can prevent situations like booting three times during class or mid-Prouty volunteering (not that things like this happen to me).

  1. Don't over-plan.

This is something I'm not very good it because I tend to waste free time when I have it. That said, over-committing yourself, even to fun activities like Greek houses and performing arts groups and clubs, can breed more stress than actual enjoyment. Newsflash: 467 barbeques a week are not fun when you get chastised for not being able to attend them all.

  1. Branch out.

    Some of the best times are those weird rogue nights where you do something unexpected with people you hardly know. It doesn't have to be wild and crazy just something different than the usual. Go to different Greek houses. Don't hold yourself above certain kinds of fun. My housemates have helped me rediscover my love of making friendship bracelets. I may have the hobbies of a four-year-old, but at least I love doing them.

  2. Lastly, but probably most importantly, don't risk too much in the name of fun.

This seems obvious and probably preachy, but I learned this the hard way in a very unsavory situation that was purely a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The important part of the lesson, though, is that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time because of a stupid decision I had made. Risking arrest a scarily real possibility in this situation to watch other people break laws because they're you're friends and it seems exciting is not fun.

I hope these tips are helpful, but if not, just remember that college is like real life with training wheels. You probably won't mess up too badly since that's made extra difficult, but if you do, it'll be very embarrassing.

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