7 Ways to Grow Yourself this Summer

#SummerofMe2016
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#SummerofMe2016
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As an adult, I miss summer vacation, y'all. I often think about all the things on my to-do list that I try to cram into my weekend, and all the want-to-do things that I put on the backburner when my need-to-do list gets a little hectic, and what I would give to have the free time I had during summer vacations when I was in school. 

I wouldn't trade those summer vacations for the world, of course, but I do look back now and wish that I had spent more time doing things that helped me grow instead of playing Skyrim and watching TV. 

Sure, you could spend your entire summer on Tumblr or catching up on your Netflix watchlist...you've definitely earned a chance to chill! But, you could also do that and make time to do some fun things that will help you stretch yourself as a person. This summer, I challenge you to try these seven things to have your best summer yet - your summer of you. 

Do Stuff Alone

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I consider myself pretty independent, but there are still a lot of things that I loathe doing alone, like going to a bar or restaurant. I'm not sure why this is such a hang-up for so many people - maybe it's a residual cafeteria fear from high school? - but learning to do things on your own and be happy with your own company is so important as an adult. 

Doing things alone helps you determine what you like and don't like without the influence of others, which could help you be more self-confident and assertive in the long run. Plus, doing stuff alone means you don't have to compromise - if you desperately want to see the Lobster but none of you friends want to go, you can go alone! If you love Indian food but your SO doesn't like spicy food, go alone! 

This summer, try going it alone a couple of times rather than rolling exclusively with your squad. Take your new favorite book to the beach, go to the movies alone, hit up a concert, or buy yourself a drink (if you're of age). Who knows - maybe you'll find out something new about yourself. 

Read Something Different

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Summer is the perfect time to catch up on the reading you may have put on the backburner during the school year, but I'd like to challenge you to read something a little different than what you'd normally pick up. 

Summer's slow(er) pace makes it the perfect season to challenge yourself, so if you normally reach for bestselling novels or beach reads, check out a different section of the bookstore, like poetry, non-fiction, or graphic novels. Or, pick up something more difficult, like that huge classic you've been dying to read but can't commit to. I feel you, girl - I just started Haruki Murakami's 1Q84. Wish me luck! 

Of course, if you spend most of your year poring through publications and dense coursework (shoutout to my grad student frands!), then maybe a beach read might be the best "different" thing for you. #brainbreak

Try a New Look

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Want to learn how to put on false lashes but haven't had the time? Maybe you want to learn how to apply a matte lipstick, or how to get Instagram brows? Maybe you want to try out opal hair or a pixie cut? I'm here to say go for it, bb! 

Summer is a great time to try out new looks and products. Watch a bunch of YouTube tutorials, do your research, practice in your bathroom, take a billion selfies, and have tons of fun and loooove how you look. You may feel silly at first, but you never know what trends or colors will make you feel yourself until you try them. 

If it's not your thing, you can always take your makeup off, and hair grows back. There's no harm in trying new things, and learning how to laugh it off when something doesn't work is a skill all its own. (Looking at you, orange lipstick.) 

Cultivate a New Skill (or hone an old skill) 

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Always wanted to learn how to bake a soufflé, or sketch a face, or write a sonnet? Learning new skills helps cultivate a curiosity about the world around you, and studies have shown that learning new skills may help combat memory loss when you're older. Plus, you'll feel more productive than if you just re-watched all four seasons of Orange is the New Black. 

So this summer, learn that thing you've always wanted to learn, whether it's how to speak french or how to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie. (We highly recommend this recipe.) Or, you could try picking up a skill that you used to love as a kid but did less and less as you got older. 

Do Something That Scares You

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Staying in your comfort zone all the time ensures that you'll limit your opportunities for personal growth. Pushing your personal boundaries not only teaches you to learn to laugh at yourself and not take yourself seriously, but you'll also learn how to not let your fears control you. 

So maybe this summer is the summer you take that improv class, buy your motorcycle, or fly out to see your bff who's studying overseas. Or, it could be something as simple as letting your crush know you like them. (Rejection is scary, too!) Just be sure to take precautions to keep yourself safe if you're doing anything remotely dangerous, like traveling alone or skydiving, or whatever. 

Unplug

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This summer is supposed to be a scorcher, so I don't blame you if you want to stay indoors all the time, but don't make the mistake I did of spending all your time indoors in front of a screen. Even if you're not much of a nature lover, make some time this summer to be outside and away from your tech - whether that's out on a hike, a day at the beach, or a camping trip with your friends. 

Studies have shown that being glued to social media is not necessarily good for our mental health, and spending time outside can actually help alleviate the symptoms of depression. While you don't have to be unplugged from your phone to enjoy time outside, not checking your phone every couple of moments will help you stay in the moment and truly enjoy the experience. 

Make a New Friend

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It's really easy to become insta-friends with someone who has all the same likes and interests as you do, but I find the most rewarding friendships come from the folks who surprise us, like the quiet girl in your friend group who ends up being the funniest person you've ever met, or the shy guy who turns out to be an encyclopedia of knowledge. 

Reach out to someone you like but have never had a chance to get to know. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out...but if it does, you'll have a made a friend, and you can never have too many friends, especially as an adult - trust.

What do you think?  

Will you try any of these challenges this summer? Do you have any goals for the summer you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments below!