“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke
I am someone who enjoys wearing floral dresses to class in the springtime. I am also someone who spends hours crafting perfect essays or completing hundreds of pages of reading assignments each week. Contrary to the belief of some, looking presentable for class and working tirelessly to achieve good grades are not mutually exclusive.
Shaming someone for the way they dress, simply because one chooses not to dress in the same way, is unacceptable. Everyone has the right to feel good about him or herself, and if wearing a killer outfit to class is what makes that possible for someone then no one has the right to pass judgment on that decision. Not all women choose to dress nicely because they feel the breath of the patriarchy’s panting expectations on the backs of their necks. A majority of the time, girls’ outfit choices are for no one other than themselves. Personally, even when I know I am not going to be leaving my dorm or seeing anyone the entire day, I still sometimes choose to straighten my hair or wear a fancy shirt.
It is particularly disturbing to see women attacking—whether it be directly or indirectly—other women for their personal choices. We need to be helping to build each other up, not knocking others down in order to feel better about our own choices. So, with the smell of rejuvenating rain finally in the air, below are some ways to feel better about yourself without shaming others.
Yoga and Meditation
These two activities go well together, as yoga involves mindful breathing and the release of negative energy or tensions in both the mind and body. Even if it is only for ten or twenty minutes each day, take the time to close your eyes, take deep breaths, and center yourself. As college students, and in many cases part-time employees as well, it is not hard to believe that many experience a build up of stress and anxiety over the course of a semester. Letting go of your worries for a little while each day can help to give you the energy necessary to power through your assignments, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with successfully performing a new yoga position for the first time can give you a natural buzz that lasts throughout the day!
This one is a no-brainer: Exercise produces endorphins; endorphins make you happy. I do a combination of strength training and cardio five mornings each week. Do I necessarily enjoy waking up at 7am and hitting the gym when I know I could be sleeping in a little later? No. Honestly, I would prefer a lazy morning where I can take my time getting out of bed before digging into a warm bowl of apple pie oatmeal. However, working out each morning helps give my day a sense of purpose and energy that I would not have otherwise. It makes me feel great knowing that I am doing something to improve the functioning of my body, so I continue to do it despite that internal pull to stay in bed. Exercise does not have to mean going to the gym, though. It could be something as simple as taking a ten-minute walk down the road, or breaking up a study session with a few jumping jacks.
When you put good foods into your body, they provide the proper nourishment for all parts of your body to function at their optimal levels. Fast food may be cheap and convenient, which is usually ideal for college students, but eating healthy does not have to take up a large amount of time or break the bank. A can of beans with 3.5 servings in it is only ¢69 at Stop and Shop; these beans can be combined with the store-brand version of Minute brown rice, cherry tomatoes, and avocado to form a complete meal at little cost. In addition, though this meal takes less than five minutes to create, spending time cooking or baking can help to relieve the stress and anxiety experienced throughout the semester by temporarily taking a student’s mind off the tasks at hand.
These are only a few ways in which a person can begin to feel better about themselves without causing others to feel badly about themselves. The start of spring means new beginnings and chances to start over; take advantage of the spirit of the season by trying something new—look up a yoga video on YouTube, explore hiking trails in your area, go kayaking, or anything else that will lift your spirits and cause you to appreciate the beauty of life and the world we live in.
While walking across the stage at graduation next week will be bittersweet, I look forward to having more time for these sorts of things, and I encourage all of you to make the most of your summer vacations. Get out there and do some exploring!
Kat Baumgartner, Editor in Chief