How is your summer vacation going?

A realisation dawned upon me:

As an adult, life is like one long summer vacation. 🥭

It is up to you to figure out how you are going to fill your time in this vacation. Some days you sleep till the afternoon, other days you get up at 6 am to go play football with your friends, and yet other days you go on a week long trip with your family.

The added condition to this summer vacation analogy is that as an adult, you have the added onus of funding your life. And for way too many people this condition ends up taking up the whole space. People work 12-14 hours a day and are able to barely get by. I empathise with them and hope that as a society we are able to rejig things to eliminate this unnecessary struggle. (Universal Basic Income, when?)

But for the rest of us, or let’s just say for me, this struggle has thankfully been eliminated. I work fewer hours than average and get paid more than average. It’s a win-win thanks to the fact that I won both social and genetic lotteries. 1

I find that the lot of us who grew up in “service class” families, we never learn how to take charge of our own lives. We always saw our parents and other elders have their lives dictated by someone else – the job. They did whatever the boss demanded. Even our peers from small business-owning households had the same experience. They saw their parents have their lives dictated by someone else too – the business. They did whatever the business demanded.

But this doesn’t work for us. Our starting salaries were equivalent to, if not more than, our parents’ mid-career salaries. And it’s not just money, we have a lot more free time at our hands than our parents did. We don’t have to lug a desert cooler on a hired rickshaw to the electrical repair shop to get its motor replaced. We spend ₹500 on Urban Company and get our AC serviced at home.

So, for me, this summer vacation analogy makes a lot of sense. At least in this moment in my life.

And what I love about this analogy is that it effectively eliminates the stress of building and maintaining routines. Did you ever have a routine that you followed for all 30-40 days of the summer vacation? Nope. It just doesn’t work that way! You find a new interest, dedicate yourself to it for the next few days, and then you move on to the next eye-catching thing! That’s how summer vacations work.

This idea is a derivative of something I read in David Epstein’s Range. In it, he talks about The Dark Horse Project at Harvard. Here’s the extract from my notes

Be a dark horse.
Dark horses have novel journeys but practice a common strategy: short-term planning. If you keep being successful in the short-term, you will be very successful in the long-term.

Here’s who I am at the moment, here are my motivations, here’s what I’ve found I like to do, here’s what I’d like to learn, and here are the opportunities. Which of these is the best match, right now? And maybe a year from now I’ll switch because I’ll find something better.

I have been ruminating on this idea for over two years now. I find it really compelling because it neatly explains all of my curiousity-driven motivations.

There’s another great thing about summer vacations – it teaches us about adult friendships. Remember how in school, you had friends who lived in your neighbourhood so you hung out with them throughout the vacation? Then there were other friends who you only met when you went back to school after the vacation. But sometimes you made special plans to go over to a friend’s house to spend the whole day with them. Or you would be in the market with your mom and you’d bump into a classmate with their mom. That was the law of the land. You didn’t see friends for several days but when you saw them, there was so much to tell and so much to do!

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t been able to catch up with your friends. That’s just how summer vacations work!

This is how I would like to live my life. At least the work/leisure part of it. Of course, you need stability too. You need a lighthouse to guide you as you sail the open seas.2

What do you think? How’s your summer vacation going?

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  1. I have had a hard time accepting this for myself because I always saw myself as a part of the social class that will march on Versailles and take down the evil 1%. But turns out, I am the evil 1%. Or with less hyperbole, my life is closer to the 1% than it is to the actual working class. How do I deal with it? I’ll tell you in another newsletter. ↩︎

  2. I got married. If that isn’t a contender for the “most stabilising move of life” award, I don’t know what is. ↩︎

Last modified: May 18, 2023