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If you hop onto any social media platform, you're bound to run into one of the big phrases everyone loves to throw around: self-care. It usually equates to a spa-like night in or a new face mask. It includes quotes about loving yourself and how you can't love anyone else until you love the one in the mirror. Then, there's the most recent buzz topic of a "hot girl summer," which is symbolic of the new social and romantic possibilities now that we're slowly turning a corner in the pandemic. We double-tap these images and think they resonate, but how do we really put them to the test in our own lives? 

The answer is different for everyone, but it certainly doesn't lie in expensive face cream or a few pages of a self-help book (although those things certainly don't hurt). The answer lies in being truly honest with yourself and looking at the ways you're depriving yourself of your own happiness. Oftentimes, we put up with things that we know aren't what we want —whether it be a job, relationship or even just a pair of pants we think we'll squeeze into one day — all in the name of excuses. We have an entire inner monologue constantly running in our heads, telling us why we can't make these changes, big or small, that would serve us better in the long run. You can't change your major again because what would your advisor think? You couldn't dress in the style you want because everyone would judge you, or you just have to keep talking to that potential date you know is an absolute waste of time because you don't want them to think you're rude. In all of these excuses, we put ourselves and our own needs last. Why should you have to take classes on a subject you're not interested in? Why should you wear clothes you don't like or sit through another mind-numbing date where they babble on speaking only in self-interest? You shouldn't, but it's obviously easier said than done. Although we can't always walk away from things that hurt us out of necessity, there are always options to make things easier on ourselves. 

The most important thing is to stay intact with what is serving you. If you find yourself dreading an aspect of your life, sit down and think about why you're feeding it your time and energy. Find out if there are other options that could give you what you need without dragging you down. Talk to friends about what you're going through and encourage each other to clean out your lives of the things that rob you of your joy. If something is making you more sad than happy, toss it. We’ve wasted too much time in our houses to waste any time now that we can leave them. This is the time for you to only make moves that serve you to get to your most happy self. Returning to normal doesn’t have to mean returning to the things that used to hold us back. It's quite literally a new world that we’re re-entering — so let it be a new, happier version of you that's entering it. 

None of us are the same person we were in March of 2020, we’ve all had a shift in priorities and understandings about what we want. What we want out of ourselves, out of dating and relationships, career and more. This summer is the time to focus exactly on what it is you want for yourself. We've clearly seen that there's no time to waste in fighting for your happiness because you never know when the world is going to turn upside down. 

Kelly is a Junior majoring in English on the creative writing track. She has a dangerous habit of daydream scrolling through designer clothing and a hobby of recreating the pieces herself with her sewing machine and an iced coffee on stand-by. Her heart belongs to her black lab and pit bull mix Leia (named after the princess). She has dreams of writing for a major fashion publication one day and plans to dramatically journal in her bedroom in the meantime. You can find her on Pinterest planning her next big adventure or pretending to be on it already at world showcase in Epcot.
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