COLUMN: My 2023 twist on the summer bucket list

A season of attempted growth? Not the way I'm doing it.

News Editor Lauren Rice

Ah, summer. It’s the time for eating ice cream at the beach and sharing s’mores around the campfire. And usually for me, the time to become obsessed with self-improvement. 

The trends on social media identify themselves -- the term “Hot Girl Summer” is a few years old, and for a long time I wanted nothing more than to be “That Girl.” There are even new, similar concepts that attempt a less stressful approach like “Rat Girl Summer” (I’m not kidding) and “Healthy Girl Summer.” 

Believe it or not, it’s more draining to try to follow most of these lifestyle changes than it is to know what their titles mean. 

Year after year in high school, I would meticulously design summer notebooks to track progress on my weight, and how many vegetables I ate that day, and did I drink enough water? There was a box to color in for my mood, and another page I titled “Shark Week” to document my menstrual cycle. 

Does this sound ridiculous yet? It should. But at the time it didn’t feel ridiculous, it just felt like I wasn’t doing enough on my own when I was prioritizing school and I constantly had to be doing better. 

Of course the flip side is a mindset where room for improvement means that existing as I am is not enough. So after all of that effort -- chugging water at the end of the day to meet an arbitrary requirement and doing exercises that were more painful than fulfilling -- I was no better off.

But that was my summer bucket list every year: I wanted to start these habits, but really I was just trying to feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m a big believer in trying new things, but some of that was beyond the pale. 

So this year, with a better state of mind and self-esteem than previous years, I decided to write a bucketlist yet again. This one is different -- really. I submit for your consideration, my f***-it list: 

  • Wear a swimsuit in public and realize no one is paying enough attention to care
  • Feed my body what it craves
  • Wear funny hats
  • Spend time with the people I love 
  • Snort while laughing (at least three times) 
  • Finally beat my cat in a staring contest 
  • Eat deep-fried sandwich cookies at a carnival and get the powdered sugar everywhere (bonus points if I’m wearing black)

For me, it’s not about making myself more attractive at this point. It’s about being unapologetically happy and fulfilled. I’ve been out of school for a month, and it’s already been my best summer on record. I wish you all the same love and joy. 

Lauren Rice is Central Michigan Life summer editor and news editor. In her first year on campus, she covered the Michigan gubernatorial election, campus politics and government and feature stories, including a deep dive into women on the front lines during World War II.