Most of you know by now that I’m really interested in human psychology, emotions, and how our relationships with others can influence our internal views of ourselves. And sometimes, a specific word will get stuck in my head that I feel inclined to write about, such as “honesty,” “growing pains,” “grief.” or “stubbornness.” Today, the word that’s stuck in my head is “pity.”

 Before even googling the actual definition of pity, I’d like to try and craft my own interpretation of what that means. In regards to self-pity, I think what that means is you’ve reached a point in your life where you feel unnoticed and unappreciated for the hardships and privations you go through. Maybe you don’t think your entire life is awful, but you think most parts of it are hard, and the only thing that makes you feel like you’re getting any sort of attention or validation for it is through feeling bad for yourself. So it’s not healthy, but it’s usually not malicious. I don’t think people who self-pity are bad people. I think they are damaged and haven’t developed healthy coping mechanisms for their stress or grief.

Webster says that pity is “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortune of others.” (I suppose in a situation of self-pity, the only word you would have to change is “others” to say “one’s self.”) When I was a bit younger, between the ages of 14-19, I would say I really struggled with self-pity. A couple of the aspects that contributed to this unhealthy cycle was a low self-esteem and a poor support system, and throughout the years, both of those things have improved enormously. Even though I was dealing with a lot of factors and stresses that were out of my control, like my parents splitting up, not being ‘popular’ or well-liked in school, and not being happy with my round face and my oily skin, it was still essentially my own responsibility for the way I felt about these things. I couldn’t change the fact that this was me and this was happening to me, but I could change the way I responded to it. So I learned to understand, accept, and even love the “broken” parts of my life. Although my mom and dad getting a divorce was a difficult change to adapt to, it actually turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. Turns out, we’re all much happier in my family now that my parents are separated. I can’t change the fact that other girls and boys didn’t want to be my friend in high school, or the fact that I had acne and frizzy, curly hair, but I could change the way I felt about myself. And gradually, I was able to drop the self-pity. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, but that seldom happens with any self change. It was a slow, soothing process of letting go of the sorrow and disgust I felt towards myself. Instead of trying to change myself to better fit my peers, I tried to say, “You know what? I’m going to like myself today. And I’m going to like my face and my body today.” Eventually, I did start to feel really good about myself. And then one day, I realized that I was truly happy for myself and happy with the person I had become. Other people noticed, too. Change really starts from the inside and works itself outwards, like a spiral. I didn’t realize how much the way I perceived myself could affect how other people viewed me, too. And then, after I started to feel better about who I really was, I started having an easier time making friends and feeling confident in my interactions with others. Having a strong sense of self-esteem does wonders for your social abilities, even if you’re typically shy and reserved, like I am.

I’ve noticed people in my own life getting sucked into a cycle of self-pity, so this next paragraph is for those people. Sitting around and feeling bad for yourself gives you a burn in your stomach- a hot, mournful, painful, yet somehow self-satisfying burn that you start to feel like you deserve. Even though you may feel like you don’t deserve anything better in life because of what has happened to you or what your circumstances are, it’s unfair to yourself and others to self-pity. In the long run, you are only going to continue to perpetuate a low self-image and drive away your loved ones. And trust me, this is coming from someone who felt bad for herself for years. It’s a selfish thing to harbor so much self-pity. It makes other people feel like you’re unhelpable. And you don’t deserve to feel like a burden and a waste of a life- you deserve to feel like you are a worthy life and you have potential for growth and happiness. You don’t want to lay in a hospital bed alone someday, cold and gray, wishing you had just given the act a rest and enjoyed your life a little bit. Because at the end of the day, it’s not that deep. As Pam Muñoz Ryan once said, “You don’t have to get over it, but you do have to get on with it.”

As a senior in college, I’m no stranger to The Dorm Life™. I lived in a double for the first semester of college, but for the last couple of years I’ve had my very own medical single! Obviously, every situation is different and some of these tips may not be applicable to you, but in general, these are my recommendations for how to make the most of your space.

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First and foremost, if you’re going into your first year, take a piece of my advice and cut back on school supply shopping. One of the biggest shocks to me coming into college was the fact that 95% of my work is done on my laptop and submitted online, so things like highlighters, binders, paper, and folders are essentially useless. You will probably want to consider getting some of these things, just in case, but I promise you won’t have to go overboard like you did in high school. You simply don’t need 5 accordion folders, 200 pens, and five stacks of notebook paper to get good grades. All you need is a reliable computer and a pair of headphones, and you should be all set. This will not only clear up space in your dorm, but also space in your school bag!

The best thing I ever invested in space-wise for college was a garment rack. They’re pretty easy to find (I got mine on Amazon), and come apart fairly painlessly at the end of the school year. Now that I put all of my clothes on this rack, I have a completely free closet to fill with other things! For me personally, I fill my closet with pantry staples, towels, and coats. It really does make a huge difference in dorm space, and the clothing rack itself isn’t too mass-intensive. I also like to store my shoes on the bottom part of the rack, which helps me to free up even more space in my room.

Most college dorm beds can be adjusted lower or higher, depending on what you prefer. For me, I keep mine pretty close to the ground, but not low enough that I can’t utilize under-bed storage. Get yourself two or three big plastic bins and specifically designate them for supplies you’ll need. I have one bin under my bed for spare sheets and pillowcases, and another one for feminine hygiene products and other spare shower supplies. It does wonders for making my room feel extra organized, and again, it helps me free up quite a bit of extra space. 

This kind of relates to the first point I brought up, but try to only bring things you know that you’ll use on a daily/weekly basis. This can be really difficult, because overpacking is something I think we’re all guilty of. When you’re packing for college, take some time to really think practically about the things you pack. How likely is it that you’ll actually use the thing you’re packing? Can you picture yourself using it within the next few days or next few weeks? If not, it might just be taking up extra space. This may seem like a trivial tip, but it has actually helped me cut back on so much extra stuff I don’t need. It certainly makes moving in and out of my dorm that much easier at the beginning and end of the semester.

It’s a pretty standard college fact that you will slowly amass things in your dorm over time, much of which you won’t really need or use. Regularly declutter and donate things that you’re not using, such as spare clothes, cans of food, of knick knacks just sitting around. Relating to the last point, I sometimes bring duplicates of things I already own, and end up donating them because they’re just sitting and taking up space (such as scarves, skincare products, bed sets, etc). I don’t need two bottles of lotions or two bathrobes in my dorm. If I discover I have a duplicate, I’ll either send one home or re-gift it to a friend. You’ll find that this not only makes your room feel lighter, but can make you feel lighter as a person as well.

Anywho, those are my top five tips for staying organized and decluttered at school! I’m about twelve weeks into my senior year, and my room is still just about as organized as it was when I first moved in. Every week or so, I go through my things and throw away what needs to go, and generally give my room a little pick-me-up. I think cleaning often for smaller amounts of time is way more enjoyable than doing one giant clean-out every season, and it feels much more practical, too. I hope my tips have helped you, and I’d love to hear some of your pieces of advice in the comments as well!

Honestly, I was a little scared to put the words “clean up” in this title. I don’t judge anybody for what/how they eat, even if it’s different from mine. Although I am happily a vegan, I don’t judge anyone for choosing to eat meat. Everyone is different, and everyone has different dietary needs and preferences.

That being said, I have taken it upon myself to improve my diet as I’ve gotten older. And that doesn’t just pertain to veganism- you don’t have to be a vegan or even a vegetarian to clean up your diet. This is just what I have done in the past, and what works best for me. My goal isn’t to lose weight- my goal is simply to be the happiest, healthiest version of myself possible.

Water Pouring in Clear Drinking Glass

I probably sound like a broken record saying this, but drinking plenty of water is one of the most important things you can do for your health. The first thing I do when I wake up is have some sips of water, especially if I wake up feeling groggy tired. Water is obviously not an adequate replacement for breakfast, but it can help subdue your hunger and make you feel full until you’re able to get food in your system. Because I usually don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast in the mornings, water is crucial for keeping me feeling satisfied and “full” in the morning (at least, until I can grab some real food).

Flat Lay Photography of Two Tray of Foods

As I said, I’m not here to force my vegan ideals on anyone, but I do absolutely think it has made me a healthier person overall. Because I have cut out dairy, cheese, eggs, and meat, I am now much more reliant on getting my protein from fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Peanut butter, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, potatoes, and broccoli are just a few of my favorite protein sources, and all of them are overall very healthy. I have definitely lost a bit of belly fat since becoming vegan, but like I said, weight-loss is not my goal. Most importantly, I feel overall happier, healthier, and more energetic than ever. I’ve also noticed that my skin has improved, and my nails are growing stronger, so those are definitely good signs.

I’ve learned over the years that there is almost always a healthier alternative for every dish you can think of. It’s certainly nice to indulge sometimes, and I’m not discouraging against treating yourself occasionally, but self-control is really important. Whenever possible, I like to swap out fattier ingredients for lighter, healthier options, especially in my homemade dishes. My favorite vegan macaroni salad uses apple cider vinegar instead of vegan mayo, which cuts out quite a bit of fat in the recipe. For foods that are healthy, but on the blander side, I like to spice it up a bit with natural sweeteners and other sources of flavor. Everything bagel seasoning goes great on avocado toast, and kale is a fantastic addition to any fruit smoothie. When you find ways to sneak healthy ingredients into dishes, you’re going to ultimately feel much better about what you’re eating, and how it makes your body feel. And, a majority of the time, you won’t even be able to taste the “healthy.”

Sliced Tomato and Avocado on White Plate

Again, I hope my advice doesn’t come off as judgy or preachy. Do whatever makes you happy and whatever is best for your health, because all bodies are designed to be different! These are the tips and tricks that work for me, and like I said, I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my health and my energy. If you decide to go vegan, make sure you take the adequate supplements and vitamins to meet your daily requirements, like iron and B-complex. What are your favorite recipes and food tips? Let me know below!

Images via Pexels.com

Coming up next: Crystal Diary: How to Attract Love with Green Aventurine

 

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I consider myself pretty #blessed to have oily skin. I know that may sound odd, but truthfully, I don’t think there’s anything worse than having dry skin. (Okay, I can think of quite a few things worse than that, but you get what I’m saying.) Dry skin is extremely noticeable, uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful. My skin used to become very dry in the winter months, but as I’ve gotten older, it has done a complete 180° and become exceedingly oily instead. There are quite a few reasons for why this might happen, but in my particular case, I think it was due to puberty. Everybody’s skin is different, of course, so I can’t guarantee what works for me will work for you too. I also don’t spend a lot of time outside, so I’m sure this has an impact on why my skin is hardly ever dry. That being said, I’m happy to share my tips, tricks, and skincare routine with you today. Enjoy!

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I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before, but the most important way to keep your skin supple and bright is to drink an adequate amount of water. A dehydrated body means dehydrated skin, along with an overall lack of energy and vitality. The most natural way to preserve your beauty and keep your skin, nails and hair healthy is to drink 75-150 ounces of water per day. This can sound like a difficult goal to achieve if you don’t carry water with you during the day, so if this sounds like you, consider buying yourself a reusable water bottle. You’ll hardly notice yourself reaching for it throughout the day, and before you know it, drinking water constantly will become a habit. I try to drink as much water as I can first thing in the morning, because I usually don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast and like the fullness that drinking water gives me. Ultimately, I guarantee you’ll see a difference in your skin if you utilize this step. It’s the cheapest and the easiest!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another way to instantly brighten and hydrate your skin is to start using face masks 2-3 times per week. Not only is it a lovely way to pamper yourself after a stressful day, but it’s also a proven way to help improve the quality of your skin. If you don’t have the time or money to go out and buy a professional mask, don’t fear- they’re insanely easy to make yourself. For example, mashing up a banana and applying it to your face and neck for twenty minutes is possibly the easiest recipe I’ve ever learned. This mask truly does work like a charm, and will leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and more hydrated than ever. If you do want to purchase some face masks, I recommend the brand Formula 10.0.6. Their masks come in a variety of smells and forms, and they’re also a cruelty-free company!

Next, consider extending your skincare routine with a heavy-duty moisturizer to apply in the morning and nighttime. I have been using the CeraVe moisturizing cream religiously since middle school, and I don’t intend on giving it up any time soon. This product also comes in a pretty large bottle, and from personal experience, you can make it last up to a year before you need to buy another one. This moisturizer is also fragrance-free, so if you’re prone to sensitive skin (and especially dry skin), this could be the perfect cream for you. I like to use this moisturizer on my hands, face, and neck once before bed and once when I wake up, just to ensure that my skin is always hydrated and feeling fresh.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last but not least, there are tons of healthy fruits and vegetables that have been proven to reverse dry skin and give you a healthy, lasting glow. Unlike creams and masks, these foods work on a cellular level to make you feel hydrated from the inside out, and also give you sustained energy and a sense of well-being. Some foods you may want to consider increasing in your diet include avocados, nuts, sweet potatoes, olive oil, cucumbers, matcha, and squash. If you haven’t seen the educational video on why cucumber is so darned good for you, here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQhFGaTTEqc

I hope that some (if not all) of these tips give you some new ideas on how to look after your skin. I am certainly no expert, but I have had positive experiences from practicing all of these methods. Ultimately, the best way to take care of your skin is to work from the inside out and utilize living the healthiest life you possibly can. After all, you are what you eat.

Coming up next: Jenna Marbles is the Zeitgeist of Our Time

 

I want to start this off by saying that I go to a relatively small school, and have never been in a large-school environment. For this reason, some of these points will only be relevant to people in a similar situation as me. Things like laundry, food and budgeting, however, are pretty normal obstacles that any average college student will face. I also apologize that this entire article is mostly negative-toned, but I want this to be as transparent and honest as possible. Enjoy!

Side note: there will probably be a part 2 to this.

  1. Stock up on as many pairs of socks and underwear as you possibly can. I promise you that once you get to college, you will never want to do laundry.
  2. If you are a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or have any other dietary regulation, be prepared to spend a lot of your own money on meals and groceries. That is, unless you enjoy eating salad or plain pasta every day. Unfortunately, many colleges still struggle to cater to students with needs such as these.
  3. There is nothing wrong with taking a gap year of starting out at a community college to figure out what you want to do with your life. I still regret immediately jumping into college after I graduated high school, having not traveled or explored different ideas to figure out what I’m actually passionate about.
  4. A surprising amount of people struggle with roommate drama their first (additional) years of college. Almost everybody I’ve met here has had a negative roommate experience at one point.
  5. A lot of buildings will have odd, wonky hours, so make sure you memorize them to avoid trekking along campus to a building that’s actually closed.
  6. Grubhub and UberEats are your new best friend. Same with Netflix and Hulu.
  7. If possible, try to secure a job (preferably an on-campus one) before you get to college. If you have connections, take advantage of that! I got a job in my college mailroom the summer before my first year because I went to high school with the postmaster’s son.
  8. The smaller the school, the clique-ier it will be. My school, for example, only has 1400 undergraduates who mainly all fall into the same social demographic. I’m a junior in college now, and I still struggle with making/keeping friends.
  9. If you have the space in your room, investing in a clothing rack will give you more free closet space! I turned mine into a pantry.
  10. There’s nothing wrong with eating in the dining hall by yourself. I do it all the time, and so do many other people.
  11. Don’t be afraid to ask the dining hall staff to make accommodations for you. You are, on average, paying about $190 a week just to eat on your campus. You have every right to ask for something that would make your eating habits feasibly easier.
  12. You should ALWAYS try to have snacks in your dorm room. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been suddenly stricken with hunger at 11pm with nowhere to get food. Non-perishable items like protein bars, soup, and potato chips are some good staples to have on hand.
  13. Even if your dining hall tells you not to, sneak out as many to-go cups of croutons and dry cereal as you want. A lot of foods found in dining halls are high in sugar and carbohydrates, which will cause you to become constantly hungry throughout the day. Sometimes, three meal swipes just isn’t enough, especially if you’re eating your last meal at six pm. I take a handful of bananas or nuts almost every time I leave the dining hall, just in case I get peckish before bed and don’t have snacks back in my room.
  14. Invest in a Keurig and enough k-cups to get you through the semester. There have been a lot of times I have wasted entire meal swipes on coffee, just because I didn’t have the resources to make one in my room.
  15. Also invest in a flashlight, umbrella, swiffer, backrest pillow, and enough plastic silverware to feed a small army.
  16. If possible, ALWAYS rent your textbooks over buying them. You should also check with upper-class students or ratemyprofessor.com to see which classes actually use the textbook, and which ones don’t. Out of all the twenty textbooks I’ve rented in my life, I’ve only cracked open six of them. And I still made Dean’s List!
  17. I know making friends is really difficult, but try to reach out to other incoming freshmen over social media before classes start. The first friendships you make don’t always last, but at least you’ll have someone in the same boat as you to help you get through the first few weeks. For example, my first friend group turned out to be a bunch of assholes. This is totally normal and almost always to be expected.
  18. Everyone feels like the loser in their first semester.
  19. Be prepared to run out of dining dollars within the first month of school.
  20. Depending on your major, you’ll probably have to do a lot less supply shopping than you did in high school (albeit, a lot more dorm shopping.) Last semester, all I bought was five accordion folders, a couple packs of loose-leaf paper, and some pens. I still haven’t run out of the paper or pens, and the folders are in great enough condition for next semester, too. (I got them from here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01KXPK9DO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  21. If you’re not careful, your entire life and paycheck will be consumed by Amazon Prime and Target.
  22. If you’re striving to have more personable relationships with your professors, consider going to a small school over a large one. I know all my professors by name, and they all know me too. It definitely makes learning new material much easier.
  23. Don’t assume that everyone living around you will be quiet and considerate. Unless you live in designated quiet housing, you’d better get used to people drunkenly running past your door screaming at noon.
  24. I didn’t know how to nap until after I got to college. Now, I average 3-4 naps per week.
  25. It is possible to avoid having classes on Fridays. In all my three semesters of college, I have only had one class on a Friday, and that was freshman year.
  26. You may think a 9:30am class sounds like a late start, but honey, you’ve got a big storm coming.
  27. Doing stupid things in college is inevitable. I dyed my freshman year roommate’s hair blue with my bare hands and then watched her try to wash it out two hours later, only to semi-permanently stain the shower.
  28. Speaking of showers, communal bathrooms can be pretty horrific. Centipedes love to chill there. Prepare yourself for that, and ALWAYS wear shower shoes!!!!
  29. It can be extremely difficult to secure a single dorm on campus, and usually comes with an additional fee. However (mostly due to medical reasons), I have been able to live in a single for the past two semesters, and it is the best thing that has happened to me in college so far. Besides getting an education.
  30. College isn’t about always making the right decision. The only important thing is that you strive to be the best version of yourself as you possibly can be. It’s difficult at times, but at the end of the day, you’re making memories and experiences that you’ll remember and smile at for a lifetime.

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No matter who you are or how stable you consider your mental health to be, the occasional bad day is inevitable. Sometimes it’s predictable- a bad night’s sleep, hormonal rage, PMS, or some shitty news. Or, if you’re having a really shitty day, a combination of all four.

However, not every spell of depression has a clear and concise motive for appearing. Sometimes, it really is random, and all the self-nitpicking in the world isn’t going to make you feel better. All you can really do is accept how you are feeling, try to find some peace within yourself, and cut yourself slack for as long as you need. It’s not really possible to cure a bad day, but there are certainly coping mechanisms you can apply to make your life a little bit easier. First and foremost, you need to separate your self-care routine into the three areas of wellness: Physical, Mental, and Social.

As much as I love to hide away from the world and isolate myself when I’m feeling depressed, the only thing that’s going to lead to is an argument with myself. It’s difficult, if not nearly impossible, to make yourself feel better without a second perspective or intervention. Trying to battle with my own thoughts will only confuse me more, as depression has a tendency to manipulate your mind. When I find myself feeling lost and upset, the only thing that really helps me is to pick up the phone and call someone who I know loves me unconditionally. Even if you’re not ready to talk about the root of the problem, it’s still extremely helpful to hear someone’s voice on the other end and maybe even have a good laugh to take my mind off things. My mother is another person I find crucial in these situations- in some regards, she knows me better than I know myself. Just having somebody in the loop is one of the most important things you can do in taking care of yourself.

Physical activity is another essential to distracting your mind when you’re feeling down. This doesn’t per say mean you need to run a marathon or spend hours at the gym- even just a short walk outside can significantly raise your spirits and help your brain release positive endorphins. I personally enjoy pampering myself with things that make me feel productive and good about myself when I feel dejected, such as doing my makeup or taking a long, hot shower. One of the worst things you can do for yourself when you’re depressed is nothing at all, because you’re letting your unstimulated brain wander into the depths of self-blame and paranoia. No matter how unimportant the task may seem, give your hands something to do, even if it’s just knitting a coaster or doodling. Doing so will give you a small sense of achievement at the least, and hopefully give you even more ambition to take the next step into something bigger.

One of the most trifling parts of feeling depressed is having to deal with the giant, controlling web of thoughts that plagues your common sense. I find it really difficult to try to give advice on this aspect over the internet, because it’s so hard to change somebody’s mind when they are truly dejected and feel absolutely shitty about themselves. No amount of telling somebody that everything will be okay will actually make them believe that it will be, as frustrating as that is. What I advise for anyone struggling emotionally with their feelings is to try writing down exactly what you’re feeling, and validate yourself for feeling that way. It’s useless and damaging to blame yourself for your emotions, because that won’t change the fact that you’re feeling them. All you can really do is accept yourself, try your best to love yourself, and give yourself a damn break. It’s selfish to assume that your life will be happy all the time, isn’t it?