The first official day of summer is Tuesday, June 20, but even with over a month to go, many of us our planning our seasonal agendas — shopping sprees, trips, living the fit life, and so on. The season should be about enjoying yourself, and so I'm here to tell you: There are a few things you don't need to care about this summer, no matter what our culture is trying to tell you. It might have you think you're not pretty enough, thin enough, fun enough; but rest assured that the only person who is the judge of you, is you.
In particular, the proliferation of social media has made it easier than ever for all of us to compare ourselves to each other, constantly entangled in a game called "Who's Living the Best Life?" Now more than ever we need this reminder: Live your life for you, because you're responsible for your own happiness!
The things on this list aren't inherently bad. What's bad is going against your nature out of guilt, fear, or to try to please someone else. Stay true to yourself, and have a summer you'll always remember fondly. This year, don't let any of these things stop you from having one hell of a time.
1Getting Your "Bikini Body" Back
During the colder months, some of us acquire our "winter fluff." Then, as summer approaches, we vow to get into peak bikini shape, because "pool season is right around the corner, you guys!" I'm all for setting a goal to live a healthier lifestyle, but if your motivation is purely superficial, we could have a problem here.
The problem isn't wanting to be healthier; the problem is being scared or self-conscious to be seen in a bikini because you don't think you look good enough. Some of us set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, even going to rather unhealthy lengths to get there. All for... what? A few months of swimsuit season? An Instagram selfie? To try to make other people jealous?
If you want to be more active and eat healthier, rock on. But how about this summer, we also set a goal to love, appreciate, and respect our bodies as they are? They've gotten us this far — they can't be all that bad.
2Finding A Summer Romance
A lot of women are looking for romance in general; but there are certain times of year when some of us are really itching to hook up, like Christmas, weddings, and — you got it — summer. We put pressure on ourselves to hurriedly find a mate, sign up for every online dating website in existence, and fill up our social calendars with first dates with people we already feel like we're not vibing with.
Really, there's nothing wrong with being single. In fact, being single is awesome! It's awesome during Christmas (you can smooch whoever the heck you want under the mistletoe), it's awesome at weddings (fewer people equals more cake for you — yay!), and it's even awesome during summer. If you do happen to be paired off, that's wonderful too.
Now, *ahem*, repeat after me: "My relationship status does not define me, ever."
3Celebrity And Social Media Trends
This is tough — we all feel it. It's the reason I can't let myself get swallowed up by Instagram. We see flawless celebrities in the most fashionable clothes, pulling off insane make-up looks, and traveling to exotic getaways. Their lives look so glamorous, happy, carefree. Of course we want that.
But this isn't reality. Reality is much more messy than that. This summer, forget trying to keep up with what every celeb is doing. Stop beating yourself up when you take a selfie and think your lips aren't big enough or you didn't pencil your eyebrows in evenly or your crop top doesn't fit right. Quit comparing yourself to people who travel with their own professional lighting kits and literally get paid to post photos online.
Do you. Have fun. Be authentic. Find happiness. Whatever that may mean.
4All Of Your Tiniest "Flaws"
I used to hate showing skin in the summer. I was certain everyone was staring at my tan lines, stretch marks, and cellulite. I was certain they were the most noticeable parts on my body. Things got a little worse when I moved to Las Vegas, because casino pools double as fashion shows. Girls show up in expensive bikinis, high-heeled sandals, a full face of make-up, fancy accessories, and perfectly styled hair. How can anyone measure up?
As I've grown up, though, I've realized something: I never saw these "flaws" on other women, because I never cared, because they. Do. Not. Matter. I obsessed over my own little flaws for nothing.
If you love the feeling of the sun on your skin, if you love your summer wardrobe of crop tops and short shorts, then go for it. Don't let inconsequential details get in the way of your happiness, because they're not worth an ounce of worry. And honestly, if someone were to stoop so low as to judge you for these tiny things, is that the kind of person you want in your life? Probably not.
5Indulging In Summer Treats
Summer is the best time for crisp salad and a juicy bowl of fruit. You know what else is good in the summertime? An frosty beer and an ice cream sandwich. Don't get so caught up trying to achieve your ideal summer bod that you forget to live a little. You're probably going to find yourself at a couple BBQs, weddings, and other summer shindigs. The best part is the food! Don't limit yourself to a lettuce leaf and a crouton. Enjoy life. Treat yourself.
6Being A Social Butterfly
I've noticed this a lot, living in Vegas: If you're not spending the warm-weather season at a party pool with bottle service... did you live at all? Why, yes, yes you did, because that's not all life has to offer. I didn't realize this at first, being the homebody that I am. I'd happily stay in night after night, but then feel like I was missing out on life, unable to measure up to everyone partying on the Strip.
It's just fine if you spend more nights at home reading a book than you do getting crunk with your friends. It's OK if you don't jetset away to a desirable summer destination. It's alright if all you have to post on Instagram is your dog, the bottle of wine you finished off, and whatever you're binge-watching on Netflix. Find your happy place, whether it's in the club or the library.
7School And Work Getting In The Way
This is life. We have responsibilities. If you have to go to school, you have to go. Same with work. Make time for you, but make peace with the fact that we all have responsibilities we can't evade. The key is to strike some kind of balance between work and play. It's not all one big party. Take advantage of weekends for relief from essays and studying. Got a few vacation days stored up at the office? Use them! Find a way to get the best of both worlds, and don't let responsibilities put a cloud over your summer.
8Sharing It All Online
Finally, a note on an issue that has become something of a problem in our culture today: Don't worry about giving your social media followers a complete blow-by-blow of your summer season. Unplug. Put your phone away. Have conversations with people in person and enjoy what's happening in front of you (not on your smartphone screen). We all love fiddling on our phones, and that's quite alright. But don't forget to look up, or life will pass you by.