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Welcome to My Happy Place: The Beaches Of Florida

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

As a native Floridian, growing up on the beach was the most natural thing in the world to me. Waking up early on weekends to catch the sun rising on Gulf Boulevard, spending afternoons swimming and building sandcastles with my brother as we watched my dad surf in the Gulf, enjoying evenings getting ice cream and walking down the sand at sunset, picking up funny shaped shells and giving them names … that was my entire childhood. It’s everything that defines our town, and it’s what consistently brings us new tourists and keeps our restaurants in business. The beach is the one thing everybody here has in common, keeping us all connected and reminding us that we all share something so precious that other people would love to be a part of. It’s easily my favorite place. My happy place. 

As I got older, the beach still provided the same boost of serotonin for me as it did in my childhood. As a teenager, beach days with family turned into beach days with friends, tanning on the shore and running through the surf, laughing about whatever celebrity we thought was cute that day and taking pictures in new bathing suits that fit perfectly and made us feel cool and grown-up. Some of my best high school memories were spent on that beach, wrapped up in a towel, feeling sun-kissed and bright under a setting sun.

Now that I’m away at school and have friends from different parts of the country who can’t even comprehend growing up in the ocean, it just makes me feel even more grateful for my upbringing. I can’t imagine not growing up where I did, not having the ocean as a second home. 

My least favorite thing about being away from home is the lack of proximity to any beach. Leaving home felt like my safe place had been stolen from me. The one place that felt like it would always be there for me was suddenly hundreds of miles away. I have not enjoyed having to drive an hour or so to the closest beach. So now when I come back home for breaks, I head straight back to the beach, spending as much time as I can back in the ocean and soaking up all the goodness it has to offer before I must leave again.

There’s just something about listening to the waves crashing against the sandy shoreline, Emily Henry book in hand, smelling the salty air and relaxing under the warm and inviting sun that has an ultimate, unmatched vibe. Everything is put into perspective when in the presence of something as beautiful and powerful as the ocean. My worries just seem so much smaller and so much less important. I can think clearer and breathe deeper. Things that once seemed complicated suddenly make sense, and feelings that I haven’t been able to place suddenly have a name. A few hours alone on the sand and I just feel more alive. I feel at home. 

It remains my safe place, my peaceful place. 

Nothing can hurt me at the beach.

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Dara Cadzow is a Junior at Florida State University from St. Petersburg, Florida. This is her third semester writing for Her Campus!