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Summer flings, budding friendships, and personal growth

college culture




Summer flings, budding friendships, and personal growth

8 summer lessons

Karla Colley


Spring has become synonymous with rebirths and renewals, but when we think of summer, we often think of new experiences in new places with new people. This summer was one of tremendous personal growth, which is only fitting going into my senior year, and it seems like many of my friends had similar experiences.

I’m not claiming that I've returned to campus as a completely different person, but I’d like to think that I’ve made some progress towards becoming a better version of myself. Now, some of you might roll your eyes while reading these lessons and wonder how I didn’t already know these things. Well, knowing something in theory versus actually experiencing and practicing it are two very different things. Growth occurs in stages, okay?

#1 "Hoeing might not be for everyone."
Let’s start with understanding that people have their own definitions of a “hoe” (like the assholes who base theirs on the use of certain Snapchat filters), but regardless, this is a slut-shaming free zone. Now, I tried to embrace the whole “talking” to multiple guys lifestyle this summer, and long story short, I failed. For one, men can be exhausting. Many of them lack emotional depth, which is why they almost “wyd?” me to death. I don’t get how y’all are juggling 5 men, but let me say, I’m impressed.

For me, I realized that I figure out who my favorite one is very quickly. After that, entertaining the rest starts to feel like a job. This is where things get complicated because while I’d prefer loyalty in the “talking” stage, guys are out here being “loyal” to every girl in their phone. That’s not a wave I’m trying to ride. Granted, the alternative cycle of spending weeks (maybe even months) getting to know someone only to figure out he’s trash and then having to start over with someone else doesn’t sound that appealing either…so maybe I’ll just be single forever. We’ll see.

#2 "If you don't belong, don't be long."
Here’s the thing: I don’t believe in forcing intimate bonds, and I don’t like half-assed relationships of any kind. Now, what I do believe in is that click – that feeling you get when you meet someone who just gets you, you know? I’m inclined to chase that sort of sensation. Otherwise, you won’t see much effort from me. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I don't like you or that I’ve some sort of personal vendetta against you. If we run into each other, I’ll ask "what you’ve been up to?" with genuine interest.

Having a good time together is still within the realm of possibilities. However, I won’t purposely seek you out because we don’t have that kind of bond. This is all to say that you don’t need to be best friends with everyone you meet, and quite frankly, you don’t even need to be their friend either. We’re so quick to assume that the opposite of friend must be enemy that we forget the gray space for acquaintances. Accept that there will be people you click with, and people that you won’t.

#3 “He’s really not that hot, sis. He’s just 6’4” and white.”
Blame this on the fact that I spent my impressionable teen years in Connecticut’s very white suburbs, but while I’m an equal opportunist, it’s no mystery that I’ve had a bit of a thing for lacrosse and hockey players. I've a theory that lacrosse teams are really Wall Street secret societies in disguise because honestly, how many lax bros do you know who aren’t working in finance? So, for someone who’s usually surrounded by these types of men, Manhattan should’ve been my summer playground, right? Wrong.

The bros were present in all their fratty glory, and ya girl felt absolutely nothing. I really found myself on dates wondering if I was actually attracted to these guys or if they were was just tall and white. I'd realized how Eurocentric beauty standards affect the perception of PoC, especially women; yet, I hadn’t quite realized how much they, in turn, also affected my own perception of men. Of course, attractive white men certainly do exist (@ Chris Hemworth’s fine ass). Beauty's subjective, but many guys don’t come anywhere close to him. Sometimes, the world’s obsession with whiteness just blinds us into thinking they do.

#4 "Be honest with yourself about yourself."
There has been a lot of talk about the importance of self-love, particularly on social media, and I’m 100% here for it. Still, we also need to be cautious about ignoring our character flaws under the guise of “that’s just who I am.” Yes, self love sometimes involves deep conditions, face masks, and spending money we really don’t have on things we know we don’t deserve. But you know what? It’s also holding ourselves accountable for our bad behaviors/habits and making a conscious effort to correct them.

For me, it was learning how to be candid enough with myself to acknowledge when I’d mistreated someone and owed him an apology. Not because he brought it up or demanded one, but simply because I knew that I’d done something wrong. It also meant realizing that my sarcasm can be unwarranted, and that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Self-love means celebrating the quirks that make you who you are, but also recognizing and mending your toxic attitudes.

#5 "Know when to walk away, and know when to walk away."
People our age seem to be obsessed with cutting people off. We brag about how small our circle is and how anyone can get axed at any time. Oh, he messed up? Cut his ass off. She pissed you off? Snip snip, hoe. For a variety of reasons, perhaps past personal experiences, many of us “deal” with challenging situations by immediately detaching ourselves and going ghost. If you’re like me, your explanation is “I don’t tolerate BS.” This might seem like the better solution at first, but honestly, you’ll miss out on some really great people in the long run. Not to mention that running away doesn’t leave much room for personal growth.

The ugly truth's that sometimes we've to teach people how to love us; however, this is not an automatic excuse to stay with your trash significant other or to keep that toxic friend around because some people have no intention of changing and will ultimately do more harm than good. Use your best judgment, but know that there are others who are willing to listen and do the work. They just need a little guidance, so don’t always be so quick to pack your bags.

#6 "If he wanted to, he would've."
Whew, now this is for my fellow hetero ladies because I feel like we specifically struggle with this. See, until very recently, I was the person who sat there and wished/prayed/etc. for God and the universe to send me some sort of sign. Then, when the sign actually showed up and I didn’t like its message, I just pretended that I couldn’t read. You don’t want to be this person because this is how you’ll get your feelings hurt, yeah? Look, men aren't always the most perceptive when it comes to anything feelings/relationship related. I know this; you know this; we all know this. Yet, they also aren’t as clueless as we’d like to think they are.

Men know what/who they want and will move in a way that makes that clear. So, a guy who is unsure about you probably doesn’t want you, and mixed signals are, in fact, warnings. Yes, feelings can change over time, but realistically, how long are you going to wait? The goal’s to be given what you want because he thinks you deserve it and WANTS to give it to you. That’s real power. If you have to beg…sweetheart, I’m going to need you to get your life together because if he wanted to, he would’ve.

#7 "Being in tune with your emotions isn't necessarily a weakness."
If you’re someone who makes every decision based on emotion rather than on facts, sit this one out. I’m referring to those who take immense pride in being savages and emotionally unavailable. Look, we’re all adults here. I know most of us don’t have a clue what’s going on most of the time, but we are. If you’re a grown man or woman who sees feelings as some sort of defect and doesn’t know how to healthily express your emotions, you’ve got some work to do. Stop using that person who broke your heart a few years ago to justify mistreating others.

The whole “I care less than you” game’s really a scam because this kind of thinking will lead to you losing people. People want to know that those close to them genuinely care about and appreciate them. You can’t expect people to just know that if you don’t make the effort to tell them or show them. Of course, caring about the wrong people can hurt you, but caring about nothing and no one will be even more painful. There’s strength and healing in emotions.

#8 "Say what you need to say when you need to say it"
Laying all my cards on the table, anyone who knows me will tell you that I’ve a flair for the dramatics, and to be fair, this isn’t something that I’ve ever denied. I’ve a history of people telling me I’m being overdramatic or that I need to “chill out.” What basically happened is that I’d get upset and repress my feelings for the sake of avoiding fights or worse, having my feelings invalidated. I’d tell myself it wasn’t that big of a deal and try dealing with the issue on my own, but be unable to let it go. This would lead to some major passive aggression on my side, which quite frankly, is not the best outcome for either party.

It’s not healthy to carry around pent up anger, and as a general rule, it’s not exactly fair to punish someone for something he might not have even noticed he did wrong. It’s hard to fix the problem when the other party’s unaware there’s even a problem. The key’s to understand that not every disagreement has to be an argument. Miscommunication will ruin a lot of good shit if you allow it to, so open your mouth and say what’s on your mind when you need to. However, “when you need to” are the key words here because we should also recognize that some things really aren’t that big of a deal and are better left unsaid.

So, better late than never, right?