Unpopular opinion: Summer is the most overhyped season of them all.
Summer has that elusive desirability of that person you’ve liked for ages and then suddenly it comes around and you realise that actually your idolisation of them was never going to stand up. People, even the ones we think are the best, are bloody annoying, and summer isn’t the perfect dream ride social media and popular culture makes it out to be either. Don’t get me wrong, summer is a bit magic and a lot of fun. Festivals, holidays, even the park levels up by about 7.5%. Pub gardens and the beach call to you and your feet beg to be shown the light of day even if it is raining – especially if you’re from England, where the word ‘overcast’ as opposed to ‘rain’ encourages a slew of semi-naked city goers to cross your paths on the way to the nearest green space.
But it’s not all fun and games if you’re not with friends, not living it up, not feeling carefree and happy and making the absolute most of all those extra hours of sunlight. Summer is fun but it isn’t a miracle cure for reality; it is as much the gaps between as it is the events we all associate with it. For every bikini shot or cocktail cheers boomerang in paradise documented on Instagram there’s someone sitting at home scrolling feeling a bit poor, lonely and inadequate. The days can be longer in more ways than one; they can drag along
Summer is perfect for the damaging effects of social media to monopolise on; it becomes a marketing tool, an idea to be sold. What will your summer be? A weekend away? Tropical beaches? Festival mania? A cocktail of all of the above? There’s a pressure to make plans, to fill the months ahead because soon winter will be back and your social (media) life will be grey and boring again. Winter doesn’t demand our attention in the same way. Summer has become about living in the moment, but a moment that has been pre-booked and paid for months in advance when February seemed endless. Living for the moment takes preparation. Leave it too late and the only thing you’ll be preparing is a home-made G&T (better make it a double) sat at home, alone, staring out into the endless blue skies with a sense of longing. Summer can be a challenge if you suffer from anxiety, or any mental health problem that (despite popular opinion) is not magically resolved by the sun; the need to live up to some expectation of the #perfect and #instagoals summer can be more stress than excitement. Some people don’t lavish the thought of an overly social few months, wearing skimpy shorts and some people simply cannot afford to spend a week in Majorca, or Bali.
There’s a sense of guilt if you don’t head outside the minute the thermometer hits 20 degrees Celsius; ringing like an alarm clock. Why aren’t you having fun? The sun is shining; you can’t possibly not be making the most of it. Social media is constantly functioning like this, but summer is ultimate #fomo season.
This all first really hit home for me last summer when the editorial team met up for drinks in London. Rupen exclaims ‘you look like you’re having the best summer, your Instagram is fire’. I mentally flicked back thinking about what I’d been posting. She was right, it did look marvellous. And I was having a great time. It doesn’t mean that all manner of mayhem was not also running riot in my life, but I was doing a lot with a lot of people and my insta was documenting it, intentionally or unintentionally letting the world know that I was doing summer ‘right’. In reality, I was stressed out and tired. But that’s not fun to share, right?
I guess what I’m saying is that, next time you wake up and it’s a glorious sunny day and your heart sinks a bit; don’t feel bad. I get that. I know my friends get it too. It’s okay to stay in and read if that’s what you want to do; maybe you suffer from anxiety, maybe you’re shy or maybe you’re just tired. Summer sells itself as the perfect season; fleeting, but magical. But the idea that everyone is having a great time is a mirage. The reality is that there will be another sunny day, and there will always be next summer. If all of the #summergoals on your social feed are making you stressed, just put the phone down. Someone else on a yacht in Monaco doesn’t equate to you having a shit summer; it’s not a competition.
Follow Elle on twitter: @ayreselle