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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Greetings, everyone! 

It’s that time of year again: summer has drawn to a close, and I’ve been trying to delude myself into believing that move-in day was just a simulation and that I don’t have three and a half months of straight grinding ahead of me.

My professors have been pulling out all the stops to pull me out of this fantasy. They’ve been handing out essays and projects left and right like tic tacs. I know right; how rude! Unfortunately, it’s time that I give in to their improprieties because my GPA depends on it. In order to facilitate this process, I’m going to use this article as a means of reminiscing on the events between April 26th, 2022 and August 26th, 2022 so that I can gain the closure that I need to mentally move into the present.

A fair amount of crappy things happened to me throughout the four month period, my grandfather passing away being one of them. However, I want to head into the school year with a positive mindset, so I’m only going to focus on what brought me joy. 

Without further adieu, here are the things that I was absolutely obsessed with over this hot girl summer:

Ugly Betty

I started watching Ugly Betty once I got in my feels after finishing Superstore and went down a rabbit hole of finding other shows in which the leads had acted. I can’t stress enough how good this show is. From a writing standpoint, the drama was always juicy, the plot always had me clutching my invisible pearls, and the one-liners always had me rolling. I also vehemently appreciated how, rather than giving Betty a makeover (like every other coming of age TV show/movie in the early 2000s), they kept her the same while repeatedly reinforcing how beautiful, strong, and brave she was on the inside. I absolutely would have benefited from that messaging as a child, considering how I didn’t conform to societal notions of attractiveness either. Another big thing that I adored about Ugly Betty was that it was ahead of its time with respect to representation: many of its main and recurring characters were Latino, black, gay, transgender, and Asian. And it didn’t do diversity like how a lot of shows now do diversity: these characters were represented as PEOPLE rather than tokens from certain backgrounds that were selected so that the show wouldn’t be deemed problematic. 

Overall, Ugly Betty was a 15/10, and I highly recommend it to any and everyone.

While none of the other shows that I watched this summer held a candle to Ugly Betty for me, I still wanted to hand out honorable mentions to those that I also enjoyed: Love Island (the men in this season were so problematic. All of them sucked), The Bachelorette (literally such a shit show, I might have to come back in a future article and unpack), The Mindy Project, Superstore (already mentioned), The Summer I Turned Pretty (SO GOOD; it made me put buying a summer house in Massachusetts on my dream board), and Marriage or Mortgage.

Beyonce’s Renaissance

Oh. My. God. There’s so much to say about this album that I don’t think a paragraph could do it justice, but one will just have to do. Renaissance was just. Wow. Incredible. Innovative. Groovy. Futuristic. Fierce. I loved it. I’m not even a Beyoncé stan or anything like that, but when I tell you that this album made my life better, it did. I liked how she combined so many different genres (house, Afrobeats, R&B, funk, etc.) to create music that was completely new and unique. I feel like a lot of what artists are coming out with these days sounds the same, but I can confidently say that I’ve never heard anything like that before.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Beyoncé, for coming out with something for me to strut to on my hot girl walks.

Long walks 

Speaking of hot girl walks, they were my next obsession. I began this summer as I always do, trying to convince myself that I’m a runner. For a couple weeks early on, I went on runs every day. Not only was it hell because I hate running probably more than anything, but I also quickly developed hip, knee, and ankle pains–and it was kinda hard to run when all of my joints are working against me. Thus, I put my dreams of becoming Allison Felix to rest and opted for an easier but still challenging option: long walks with ankle weights. At first, I walked two miles a day and then once that got easy, I increased the amount to three. 

I don’t know what it was about these walks, but they allowed me to gain such peace of mind. For an hour a day, I was able to detach myself from work, familial stress, social media, and other negative influences and just focus on myself. I would listen to uplifting music while I was stomping around my neighborhood, and the fact that my head was so clear allowed me to receive and accept the positive messaging. As I blasted Renaissance on my daily jaunts, I truly believed that I was that girl and that I was one of one, number one, and the only one.

I felt happier and more whole as a result of these hot girl walks, and I want to continue to incorporate them into my routine moving forward.

Cava

Another thing that helped me feel more whole was Cava. I don’t know what it was about this summer, but pita slices and build-your-own salad bowls suddenly hit so different. I generally ate there once, if not twice, a week with my family, and it was an event to which I always looked forward. I have such good memories of my parents and I sitting outside, munching on our bowls, engaging in lighthearted conversation, and feeding the birds that would hop around the patio begging for crumbs. These Sunday lunches at Cava were something that I cherished, and I’m excited to have more of them when I return home for break.

One Bars 

My other food obsession was One Bars. I genuinely think that they’re laced with something (especially the birthday cake and peanut butter cup flavors), because they’re so addictive. They were a go-to snack (and sometimes meal) for me during the spring semester of sophomore year, and they somehow managed to elevate their status in my food rotation over the summer.

In conclusion, if you can’t find any One Bars in your local grocery store, I probably ate them.

Sunshine 

Next up, we have Sunshine. No, not sunshine from the sky (although that slaps too), but the energy drink. One of the partners at the company that I interned at this summer actually founded Sunshine, so there were always copious amounts of the stuff in the fridges at work. I initially thought that the employees were raving about Sunshine to appease their boss, but when I tell you that the drink is that good . . .Soon enough, I was raving about it, and I haven’t gotten off of my soapbox since.

Essentially, it’s a sparkling energy drink with a bunch of vitamins, electrolytes (tldr: excellent for post-party recoveries, if you know what I mean), and fun flavors. My personal favorites are Tropical Pineapple, Gingerberry, Lotus Pear, and Blueberry Lemonade. I believe Sunshine is only sold in North Carolina, but you can order it online if you live out of state.

I promise that this wasn’t sponsored but, Mr. Vest, if you’re reading this . . .

Sparkling Water 

On the topic of sparkling beverages, we have sparkling water. The fridge at work, in addition to holding Sunshine, also contained a ridiculous amount of sparkling water. Whenever I wasn’t doing anything, I would stroll over to the kitchen and grab a can, and it was through this exercise that I found sparkling water brands and flavors that I rock with heavily. I would say that my top three out of all of the varieties I tried are watermelon Waterloos, peach + honey AHAs, and ginger root beer Zevias. 

Girlbossing

This summer was the first time I felt that I had activated my gatekeep, gaslight, girlboss mode. For the month of May, I took a course at Duke, then straight after that (one weekend later), I jumped into two internships that would last the remainder of the summer: one, which I mentioned above, was a copywriting internship at an advertising agency called The Variable, and the other was a social media marketing and communications internship for a nonprofit called Twin City Bike Collective. It’s no exaggeration to say that I was booked and busy.

While I was exhausted because I never had a second to catch my breath, I was also extremely proud of myself for all of the work that I put in, the growth that I had, and the fact that I had accumulated practical experience to put on my resume. Not to mention that working two jobs allowed me to earn more money than ever, which felt so good because I was able to buy some things that I’d been wanting for a long time and have a little something leftover to put in savings. 

Pink 

As I was working hard and tapping into my divine feminine energy, I started to develop an obsession with the color pink. I can’t tell you when exactly the switch flipped but it FLIPPED. I used to love pink when I was little, but once I entered my tomboy and internalized misogyny phase in late elementary school, I loathed it. But this summer, we came back full circle, and I just couldn’t get enough. I bought a pink speaker, pink outfits, pink decor for my apartment, and even got both my hands and my feet painted hot pink. I entered my Barbie era, and I’m kinda living for it.

New Boo (As of 10/15, we are no longer together, so read ahead knowing that information)

In the spirit of channeling my inner Barbie, I found myself a Ken this summer. Two of our friends met on a dating app at the end of last semester and wanted another couple to go on a double date with them, so they set us up. The double date was genuinely one of the most awkward experiences of my entire life (I cringe thinking about the uncomfy pauses that permeated our conversations), but for some reason, he was digging that and set up another date with me when I returned to the Triangle for summer school. We had great dates week after week and then, on our fourth one, he asked me to be his girlfriend!!

I was so shocked because he never gave me any indication that that’s where his mind was at, but I obviously said yes. This guy is so kind,respectful, hardworking, funny, generous, and probably one of the most sincere people I’ve met. I don’t mean to simp, especially over a man, but like!! He makes me very happy and my parents adore him, so I’m just excited to see where our relationship goes.

Last But Not Least: My Niece 

Another person that entered my life this summer was my niece. It’s so crazy saying that I’m an auntie because I still think of my older brother as a teenager. But he’s not. He’s a whole father now. And his daughter is so cute. She was the first baby that I’ve ever held, and that moment was terrifying but magical at the same time: I was looking at her, she was looking at me, and then she spit up on my dress and I almost dropped her.

Yeah. I got banned from holding her after that, but I’m hoping that my brother will forget about it by the time I come home for fall break.

Saying Goodbye

To quote Charles Dickens, summer 2022 was “the best of times and the worst of times.” There were super high highs, very low lows, and a lot of Cava to get me through. Here’s to saying goodbye to four months that I will never forget, and to creating new memories this school year. I’m glad that you all will be with me for the ride.

XOXO,

Mackenzie

Mackenzie, a music lover and reality TV enthusiast, hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is a junior at Duke University who, after changing her major 17 times, settled on pursuing degrees in sociology, Spanish, and Portuguese. As a nerd with a huge passion for analyzing social phenomena, Mackenzie primarily aims in her writing to explore the intricate ways in which race, gender, and sexuality shape current events and pop culture.