AdviceHey, Bonita!

Love Yourself, Athens!

Over the past few years, I’ve found myself getting excited for the end of summer and looking forward to the injection of energy and life that students bring to us sleepy, sun-drunk locals. It’s definitely weird, because I’ve always been one of the loudest when Athens breathes its collective sigh every May. Who doesn’t want less traffic, no lines and more parking at Broken Kroger, and actually being able to get a table at Hi-Lo? Still, if you are just getting back into town or moving here for the first time, I’m glad to see you here. 

I hope you all had a Hot Girl Summer—or a Hot Boy Summer, whichever fits your identity. I most certainly did. To define the term as simply as possible, this is a phrase coined by Megan Thee Stallion to describe a season where one has lived a life full of intention and self-love. I’ve also seen it interpreted as “ho season” by some, and in the past, this would have been my own interpretation of having a fun, sexy summer, too. Instead, I focused on finding a dream house, and I didn’t even have to move to Winder to find something affordable. I also finally learned how to do a proper twist-out, even though it’s time-consuming and exhausting. Small potatoes, but it’s much less stress than waiting for a text back from an alcoholic who’s just gonna stand me up anyway. I value my time, and anyone who wants some of my time should value it, too. So, yeah, I’m buying patio furniture and deep conditioning instead of rolling the dice every Saturday night.

Valuing your own time sounds pretty basic, but it’s incredibly hard to break the habit of lowering your standards in exchange for positive attention. Even though I hate being treated like a zoo animal, it took me years to get comfortable telling the white people in my life not to touch my hair, because I’m a simpleton who loves a compliment and hates conflict. I remember wincing at the hurt feelings I was causing by pointing out a friend’s transgression, so I learned to reframe the interaction as the simple act of putting myself first, owning my space and not apologizing for exercising my ownership. Whether that’s keeping strange hands out of our hair or dumping the skid mark we cuffed ourselves to this summer, the choice is ours to make. It’s taken me a long time to really get what RuPaul said: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love someone else?”

Leaving a bad relationship is self-care and self-love. Advocating for ourselves and taking our space back is a Hot Girl move, for sure. Making real steps to improve our self-image and everyday life experience brings us closer to all of those lofty visions of what we want our lives to be. I don’t have to tell y’all that being happy with yourself makes you a better partner and friend to the people you love, and it attracts people who will love you the way you are. Hot Girls and Hot Boys keep it 100 with everyone, including themselves, and they always do that with compassion, empathy and good intentions. 

I hope to turn this Hot Girl Summer into a Warm Girl Fall, though I highly doubt that’s what Megan Thee Stallion will call the upcoming season. I just want us all to keep that same energy of positivity, self-love and living our best lives for the rest of the semester and beyond. I was in a dark place this time last year, and I wanna thank y’all for riding that out with me. But I think I’m better for it, honestly, and that’s always the goal, no matter what I’m going through. Below, find out how to get your inquiries into my column. I can’t wait to wade through the muck with y’all.

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