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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Ever since I was a young girl, I have always wanted that fairy-tale romance. To find the boy that would sweep me off my feet and make me feel as though I was the most beautiful girl in the whole world. However, through the years, this dream has dramatically come crashing down. Uncovering the truth that fairy tales aren’t reality was a hard pill for my naive self to swallow. 

In high school, I only had one boyfriend. He was honestly all I could ever ask for, and he treated me like a queen. But once that ended, I realized how much I craved male validation. I looked for it in every aspect of my life. When I was in my mid-teenage years, I was not the most conventionally attractive. I was more of the chubby, funny best friend rather than the “hot girl,” and that had a significant impact on how I viewed myself. I felt I was unlovable and any boy I would talk to didn’t really mean it—like they were playing a joke on me. Then, during quarantine, I had my “glow up.” Between losing weight and changing up my hair, I received an influx of attention from boys I had never received before. This now leads us to college. 

Entering college felt like a completely different ball game in all senses, especially when it came to boys. Not only did I look much different than how I did in high school, but I also had an immense amount of confidence that I never had before. It was empowering. Now that I viewed myself as beautiful, it led other people to recognize it too, for the better and the worse. I had all of these boys “sliding into my DMs” that I had never had before, and I finally felt validated. 

To be completely honest, I still take way too much value into how men think of me. This leads me to do things I am not always proud of. Although it is an embarrassing statement to make, I have to admit I have fallen into the hookup culture of college life. Don’t get me wrong, I am still waiting for my prince to sweep me off of my feet, but I have lowered my standards and have certainly done things that my younger self never thought I would do. 

The hookup culture that I have fallen into is not necessarily a bad thing. College is the time to experience things and be “wild.” However, it can also lead to a whole lot of negative behavior. Women are so easily taken advantage of by men, including myself, which is why we, as women, need to be so careful in this new hookup culture. It is so easy to “hit it and quit it,” but that can be highly emotionally and physically damaging, especially for young people like ourselves.

This type of culture also simply promotes sex. Sex is not something wrong or dirty, and it is highly talked about in the society we are living in. I think that having sexual relations with another person is a big deal emotionally and in terms of one’s health, so it is essential that we, as young people, also make a big deal about it. This culture most certainly does not promote that either. 

When it comes to this topic, I say do what makes you feel good. Never do something just to please your partner. Please remember that you come first and that it is your body, no one else’s. The mom in me also wants to remind you to be safe. Use protection and get tested! But also be safe in guarding your heart. Your heart and your gut will always direct you to the correct place; never forget that. I want to leave you with this: you are a beautiful, valid human being, and you do not need a partner to tell you that. 

Irelyn Rogan is studying Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Irelyn is a third-year student, and this is her fifth semester as a HerCampus journalist! She is very interested in lifestyle, pop culture, and entertainment in general.