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It’s that time that we all wait for.  Shorts are now an important (and necessary) part of your wardrobe.  Every ice cream store has officially opened for the season.  The seasonal bathing suit stores that confuse and entice all of us are stocked and ready for summer.  Popsicles are sold by the boatload at BJ’s.   Suddenly it takes twice as long to get to and from ANYWHERE you need to go.  Sandy neck is your new favorite place to drive out on a Wednesday, Saturday, (well, really any day that ends in ‘day’).  And the best part of summer?  Aside from an assigned summer reading list, you don’t have to think about school once until September.

Summer is no doubt the time that we all live for on Cape Cod.  But it’s also a time when we see an increase in sexual assaults and more teenagers ending up in potentially unsafe situations.  Summer is often a time when you meet new people that maybe don’t go to your school.   They might be vacationing here, or have a summer home and will be gone again come September.  We’ve all experienced it; your friend’s cute cousin is staying with her for the summer.  You get a new job and one of your coworkers from a different school catches your eye.  Parents may start to relax on rules and curfews as you beg them to let you stay out late at the Barnstable County Fair, a bonfire at Sandy Neck, or go to a concert with your older brother.   We’re in full support of having fun, relaxing, and enjoying yourself…that’s exactly what June, July, & August are for.  Just remember a few things as you head into this amazing Cape Cod summer season ahead:

You are your own person, and you make your own decisions.  This means:  don’t let others pressure you into doing ANYTHING you don’t want to do.  Whether that’s lie to your parents or sneak behind their back, drink, or hook up with someone who wants you to do things you’re not sure you’re okay with.  Remember that you can ALWAYS stop, take a breath, and think about what’s going to happen next.  If any part of you doesn’t feel good about it, you don’t have to do it.  The people who matter and care about you aren’t going to make you feel any differently about any decision you make. 

That being said, Summer relationships are the Stuff. Of. Legend.  The guy on your sailing team that’s only staying until mid-august.  The girl next door whose summer home stands empty most of the year has returned and seems interested in you.   You’ve transitioned from talking with the guy you went to prom with to actually dating him.  Relationships are great, when all the pieces fit together.  Your relationship should be equal parts fun, commitment, humor, trust, honesty…whatever is important to you.  Remember that consent is important, every time you engage in any sort of intimacy.  And remember that if your partner starts telling you what to wear, who to hang out with, demands to read your text messages, have your phone password, and you’re not okay with any of this…this might be the recipe for a controlling, manipulative relationship.  Take time to check in with yourself and your feelings.  Are you comfortable?  Are the current circumstances (the Friday night party, the time-sensitivity of how long your crush will be on the Cape, the ride home your cute coworker offered to give you after work) inadvertently pressuring you to do something you’re not comfortable with?  Exploring summer relationships can provide a lifetime of memories, just make sure you and your partner are always on the same page.

Being an adolescent on the Cape hasn’t changed much over time.  The second we’re old enough for work permits, we await the time off from school to go out and work as much as we possibly can.  For those over 18, sometimes this time of year means that you might even have two jobs (!)  We’re hard workers, and always have been.  It’s easy to work 5 and 6 days a week and watch the weeks slip by, cash in our fists and bags under our eyes.  If we’re lucky, we can catch a few good mornings at the beach before running home to shower before work.  Don’t forget to take some time for yourself.  Even if you have a job during the day and you’re able to hang out with your friends at night, sometimes that isn’t relaxing and you might need to schedule some time for yourself.  Get a pedicure, window shop in Mashpee Commons, grab your favorite flavor of Four Seas ice cream and go for a drive…whatever works for you.  Taking care of yourself and learning how to do it is an important part of this time in your life, and it’s never too early to start. 

Happy summer!Happy Summer!–IH Teen Counselor