One way we can fight sexual assault

Dude. This Harvey Weinstein stuff is filling me with SO. MUCH. RAGE. I’m constantly looking up stories about brave women who have come forward and the trauma they endured (and are still experiencing), the sometimes terrible and sometimes life-affirming reactions they’ve received from others, and the men who have stepped up as our allies (go Jordan Peele!).

If you’re filled with rage like me, that’s totally good, normal, and right. Men pushing themselves on women, threatening that if they don’t comply, their careers will be in jeopardy, and viewing women as simply here on the planet for their pleasure is straight up WRONG and BAD. So yeah, we have every right to be f*cking angry. But we’re taught (ahem, WOMEN are taught) that being angry isn’t ladylike, it’s unnatural, and can even incite rage in men…because of course, it’s natural and expected for men to be angry, not women. OMFG.

Okay. If you feel enraged, sad, hopeless (and about a billion other emotions) about sexual assault in the public arena (Hollywood, the government, etc.), here’s one productive thing you can do to fight the misogynistic, shaming culture that surrounds sexual assault:

You can accept your body as it is, take care of it, and stop pursuing weight loss.

This simple (but not easy) action takes a stance against the patriarchal structures (Hollywood, government, medical industry, fashion industry, and so many other things) that tell the world that women should be small and held to an impossible social ideal of thinness. When we accept our bodies the way they are, when we stop the physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially exhausting fight to lose weight, we have time, money, and energy to focus on other areas of our life…like our relationships, career, spirituality, and nourishing our bodies in ways that make us feel great. We say NO to the systems and institutions that want to keep women small, tamed, and controllable.

Also, when we accept our bodies, we take more ownership of them. We begin to view them as worthy of respect–from ourselves and others, not objects for men to use how they please. And when we begin to adopt that mindset, we might feel more comfortable calling out unacceptable behavior from anyone who violates our bodies, or the body of someone else. This is not to say that women who don’t view their bodies as worthy deserve to be assaulted or should be shamed for not speaking out. I’m suggesting that accepting our bodies as they are now can help us have more ownership of our bodies, which helps us realize that only we get to choose who we share physical space with, which of course doesn’t really stop a sexual assaulter from violating someone’s body, but I think having that sense of control of our bodies is important for women.

If you’re feeling hopeless about the way women’s bodies are treated, just try accepting your own. Refuse to buy into the patriarchy’s lie that losing weight will make your life better. Take ownership of your body by listening to what it actually wants instead of letting the diet industry decide for you.

Aaaand if you still need convincing to give up the weight loss fight, here’s a quote from the amazing podcast host and health coach Christy Harrison:

The easiest way to gain weight is to attempt to lose weight. 

Mic drop.

How to figure out what you want

As you know, decision making is hard for me. I go back and forth about all of my options, future trip, and exhaust myself almost every time I have to make a choice of some kind. It’s not fun, and I’m working on it.

Today, I was listening to  the Lady Lovin’ podcast while taking a walk around my neighborhood and got a wake up call on how important it is to answer this question that impacts our decision making greatly:

What do you want?

The topic of this particular podcast episode was money, and the amazing Nicole Lapin emphasized how important it is for people to figure out what they want so that they can plan their finances accordingly. For example, if you want to have kids down the road, own that you want that, and factor it into your spending/savings plan (depending on your age) so that you have the money that getting pregnant/raising kids require. In fact, Nicole said that studies have shown that women who plan a narrative for their lives, i.e. a general, loose plan of their goals and when they want to achieve them, are more successful in accomplishing those goals.

Aside from increasing your success in accomplishing goals, answering What do you want? is pretty much the first thing you have to figure out when you begin any type of plan or program to improve any part of your life. For example, if you hate your job and want to find a new one, you have to figure out what you want, i.e. what type of environment you want to work in, the kinds of projects you want to do, your desired location, etc. If you don’t know what you want, you’ll either apply to a bunch of random jobs that may not work for you or you’ll stay in your current job because you don’t know how to move forward.

Full disclosure. I HATE thinking about What I want because I never know what I want…so I usually avoid answering that question in many areas of my life, specifically in dating, money, and career. But refusing to grapple with that question hasn’t really been moving me forward–it’s just kept me in the same place, with vague goals and hopes for my future, and little motivation to take action.

To help myself get clear on how I want to move forward in certain areas of my life, I’ve decided (yay, a decision!) to take conscious actions toward figuring out what I want. And I want you to join me.

Here’s a plan to help us figure out what we want:

  • Journal once a day for 10 mins. Let’s write What do I want? at the top of the page and let our pens move freely–no edits or judgement. Let’s just begin facing this question and seeing what’s inside of ourselves.
  • Acknowledge the areas of our lives where we make quick decisions with conviction. Food, body, and health are areas where I feel super comfortable and confident making decisions. It’s important to celebrate the areas of our lives that just flow and move forward–it gives us motivation and hope that we can experience the same flow in other areas of our lives, too.
  • Make a decision and see how it feels. If I can’t tell what my body wants to eat for lunch one day, I don’t stress about it. I just eat foods that I typically like and trust that my body will absorb the nutrients it needs, and give me a clearer answer about what it wants for dinner. I think we can do this in other areas of our lives, too. For example, maybe we’re not sure whether to go on a dating app, and we go back and forth about it forever. Let’s try making a decision to either yes, sign up or no, don’t sign up, and see how it feels for a few days. If we want to change our minds, we can. But actually making decisions gives us information we can use to make more decisions in the future, which eventually makes decision making easier.

I still hate the What do you want? question, but I’m seeing how crucial answering it is to moving forward in life. Let’s do this together, okay?

How and why to get psyched about your own life

This weekend, I spent about 40 mins scrolling through the Instagram of a stranger. I discovered this person (who is totally lovely and contributing to the world in a positive way btw) via a blogger I follow..and just got lost in her life online.

When I managed to pull myself away from the computer screen, I realized that I spent so much time experiencing some other girl’s life that I completely neglected mine. Why did I divest myself of my own life in favor of someone else’s on social media? I’m thinking it’s partially because I was trying to forget about the things in my own life that make me feel anxious, stagnant, and inferior. Sometimes it’s easier for me to get lost in a stranger’s shiny Instagram life than deal with my own reality.

But taking an Instagram vacation doesn’t actually resolve anything in my life; it just exacerbates those feelings of anxiety and inferiority. It prolongs the amount of time it will take for me to take action and experience contentment in those areas of my life that are unsettled.

What’s the answer, then?

Get psyched about what you’re doing in your own life.

Why? Because when you’re excited about your life, you feel inspired to get clear on and accomplish your goals–so that you can be the best version of yourself and contribute to the world positively.

Getting psyched about your life also helps you view your life as valuable and worthy. That means you’ll naturally move away from people and activities that drain you/make you feel stagnant and just meh. You’ll begin to spend your time, money, and energy with intention–on things that really matter to you and fill you up.

How do you get psyched about your life? Try this tips!

1. Get quiet. When you remove distractions and outside noise, you can hear your own thoughts, needs, and desires better. Get to know yourself for a few minutes each day. Journal. Take a walk. Stretch. Read. Eat your meals while listening to music instead of watching a show. When you form a closer relationship with yourself, you learn more about what your soul is truly craving (in all areas of your life), and you can take aligned action from there. You’ll realize that just like those Instagram bloggers, you too have an awesome personality, big goals, and a valuable perspective on life

2. Add more fun to your day. It’s easy to focus on the routine and drudgery of our day…which makes us think that our life isn’t exciting at all. Make the boring stuff exciting. Have a 1-minute dance party between work tasks. Listen to an audio book during your commute. Have a phone date with a friend while doing laundry. Wear a hot outfit while running errands. When you have more fun, you feel a little more psyched about your life, and you realize that you have the power to experience life however you choose.

3. Work out. Moving your body makes you feel calm, empowered, and inspired. Move in a way that feels good to you (see tip 1) and do it a few times per week.

4. Tackle your To Do list. Nothing makes us feel more lazy and inferior than procrastinating on our To Do list. Take action by choosing one thing on your list, setting a timer, and doing it. Then, choose another thing. This will make you feel like a boss, motivating you to keep accomplishing your tasks and goals, and feel totally psyched about yourself.

Looking to interview 10 college/post-college girls on body image!

This blog post is for those of you struggling with body image and your relationship with food. I want to create the best, most helpful content for you when it comes to this stuff–so you can FINALLY feel peaceful and confident in your skin and do the awesome sh*t you want to do in the world.

I’m looking to do a short, 15-minute interview with 10 women in college and women who are a few years out of college who resonate with at least 3 of the following statements:

  1. I constantly compare my looks, accomplishments, knowledge to other women.
  2. Sometimes I think that being thinner would make me happier, more attractive, and just a better person overall.
  3. I hold myself back from achieving my personal, professional, or academic goals until my body looks different, i.e. thinner
  4. I scrutinize my food a lot, meaning that I view myself as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, depending on what I eat, and it’s causing me a lot of frustration.
  5. I’ve been trying to lose weight for years and nothing has worked.

This a NO STRINGS ATTACHED OFFER–no sales pitch, no self-promotion. Just me learning a little more about your struggle with body image and food…to be able to create the exact content that will help you.

Interested in being interviewed by me? Email me at sarah@thehappycollegegirl.com and we’ll set it up right away!

How To Stay On Task When You Have A Ton Of Work To Do

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling suuuuper overwhelmed at work. It was the day after I saw Beyonce with my friends, so I was coming down off of that high and was feeling unsettled because the coffeeshop that I planned to work out of didn’t offer wifi. WHO DOESN’T OFFER WIFI?

I was trying to manage my feelings of depression (slight) and frustration all while a ton of work emails were coming in with request after request. I got very overwhelmed and found myself numbing out with Youtube, Facebook, texting, etc. I just needed a break from all of the work coming in that I had to distract myself.

I know you can relate.

But here’s the thing. When we troll our favorite blogs, websites, whatever instead of focusing on our work, that work begins to fester and become even scarier. It’s harder to get it done. Deadlines loom. We feel bad about ourselves for not being able to handle our workload. Our thoughts spiral. AND we make more mistakes in this anxious state, which requires even more time from us to correct.

Ug it’s the worst.

I have a LOT of experience with feeling overwhelmed by work, especially when we have multiple requests coming in, so I got your back.

The next time you’re juggling multiple projects/demands/requests and find yourself turning to Youtube, social media, your phone, etc. to get some relief, do these things instead:

1. Brain dump. Write down EVERYTHING you have to do/are responsible for you. Get it all out of your head and onto paper. You’ll feel calmer just seeing everything in front of you instead of swirling around in your head, making you crazy.

2. Take deep breaths. When you receive multiple emails and want to run and hide, take several deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Also, every hour, take a 3-min meditation break. Close your eyes, breath deeply, and just focus on your breath. Breath work like this lowers your cortisol level and helps your brain get still, allowing you to come back to your work in a calm state.

3. Read your emails completely. I know you get a lot of emails. We all do. But when you open an email, you have to read it completely. It’s easy to skim because you think you know what someone is saying or because you’re too freaked out by all of the work in front of you. But when you skim, you miss important details. Then you’ll have to ask about them later, which makes you look unorganized if someone tells you that they put the details in the email. And many times, when you read an email fully, you realize that what is being asked of you isn’t as time-intensive as you thought. This happens to me all the time at work. I’ll dread a project, then read the email detailing what really needs to be done, and the project is way less difficult than I made up in my head.

4. Get clarification on priorities. If you’re not sure what project to do first at work, ask your boss what your priorities should be. If you’re a student, ask your professor how much of your grade a project is worth. Ask yourself which of your classes are most important to your major or your future goals, and therefore need to rock. Are you taking a class where you can get away with doing a little less work?

5. Pick a focus object. When you look away from your laptop or paper for a quick break, don’t go somewhere online. Choose a focus object, something that you love to look at that brings you comfort or joy. Place it on your desk, and look at it whenever you pause in your work. This could be flowers, a painting, or an inspiring picture on Instagram. I love the Instagrams of these awesome people.

6. Pick a task and be unapologetic. When you know which projects need to get done first, focus on that and be unapologetic about it. Your brain will try to throw you off your game by making you think about everything else you have to do. But if you get caught up in those thoughts, nothing will get done. When you choose a project to work on and those thoughts come up, just say, “Thanks for sharing. I’m working on this right now. I’ll get to you soon.” Put your attention right back on your chosen task.

I’m working on staying on task myself, so expect more productivity tips as I become more productive.

9 ways to become a Happy College Girl RIGHT NOW

If you’re looking for quick ways to feel happy and peaceful in college, I’ve got you covered. The following list contains some of my favorite (and most effective) ways to improve my mood and increase productivity INSTANTLY. You’re a busy college woman. You want to feel good and be productive NOW. Here’s how to get there, sister:

  1. Do something nice for someone else. One of the most powerful ways to get out of the headlock of our thoughts/fears is to serve others. Take a stack of Post-it’s to school with you. Write an anonymous, positive message on a Post-it and stick it in a public place, like on the mirror of a bathroom. Plaster your campus facilities with loving messages; they can turn around someone’s whole day…and it makes you feel powerful. Check out Operation Beautiful here.
  2. Clean your room. Set a timer for five minutes. Pick up clothes off of the floor. Straighten piles of paper. Wash/dispose of dishes. What can you do in five minutes to make your room look and feel calmer?
  3. Write a note to someone you love. Kick it old school here. Get out a note card (or just a piece of paper) and a pen. Tell your best friend who goes to another school, your mom, your grandparents, a former teacher/professor that you just want to say hi and why they are special to you. This is a perfect time to crank out that thank-you note that your mom keeps telling you to send to your great aunt.
  4. Paint your nails. Pick a color that makes you feel excited, sexy, feminine, etc. Like this:Red Nails
  5. Put food on your face. DIY facemasks are fun, cheap, and effective. Try this one: Take 1-2 tbsp. of full/low-fat Greek yogurt. Smear yogurt on your face. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. While waiting, take selfies, listen to music, and just chill. Gently wipe off yogurt with warm washcloth. Admire your bright, smooth skin in the mirror. Check out these facemasks too!Photo on 2014-03-23 at 22.31 #2
  6. Get your freak on. Dance parties are medicine. Close your bedroom door and crank up them jams. These songs are really working for me right now: If you can’t get privacy to have your own dance party, have one with a friend, or take brisk walk around campus with your jams pumping in your ears. Dance to these songs right now.
  7. Make a DAILY To Do list. We have so much sh*t to do every day. Instead of slogging your way through one master To Do list that never actually ends, just make a list of the tasks that must and can get in one day. Your To Do list won’t seem as daunting, which makes getting up and starting your day a little easier.
  8. Get informed. Do you know what’s going on in the world? Your state? Your school? As students, it’s easy for our worlds to become very insular-the stress of college life make it hard for us to think about anything else but class, projects, work, etc. But when we engage in conversations about international, national, and state affairs, we feel more connected to a world outside of our college lives. Check out The Skimm! Two cool women write this FREE daily newsletter in a way we can actually understand. You’ll feel smarter, more cultured, and more connected to others.
  9. Meditate. Meditation instantly slows your thoughts, helping you to feel more relaxed and clear-minded. All you need to do is sit in a chair or on your bed (or on the toilet in the bathroom if you can’t get privacy elsewhere) and breathe through your nose and out your mouth. If your mind wanders, that’s okay! Just try to bring your thoughts back to your breath. Meditate for two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or disconnected from yourself, do something on this list. I promise you’ll feel a jolt of happiness and peace.

 Which ones are you most excited to try? Tell meeeee!

Make the comparison thoughts go away…with this!

Happy Friday, college (and post-college) women! You survived another week of reading, classes, meetings, work, discussions, labs, and stress that often accompanies it all. I’m proud of you!

I’m putting together content for a super juicy call for you (expect an invite soon) on how to quell those thoughts in your brain that make you feel inferior to everyone around you-on campus, in class, e’rrywhere. Imma tell you how to tell those thoughts to GET OFF MY JOCK (my new fave saying, courtesy of Bethenny Frankel).

While putting together the content for the call, I was reminded about something my yoga teacher told us in class this week.

The person next to you isn’t attainable. Only your best self is attainable.

Let that sink in.

This idea means that you will never be exactly like someone else, someone who you perceive as better-smarter, thinner, more fun, more successful, cooler-than you. You will never be like that person…because they aren’t you! You can’t control what that person thinks, says, or does.

The only thing you CAN control and attain is your best possible self. You don’t need to worry about what someone else is doing or what someone else’s life looks like because you cannot attain exactly who they are or what they have…because they’re them and you’re you. But what IS attainable is your best self. I know sounds heady and discouraging.

But when I marinate in the idea that the person next to me isn’t attainable; only my best self is attainable, my body relaxes and my comparison thoughts release their grip on my mind. I remember that the only thing I have control of is myself and my choices. I can’t control the person who is making me feel inferior or triggered in some way, so I have to let them go and stop comparing myself to them. From that space, I can make choices that move me closer to my goals, to the best version of myself.

For example, when I was in college, I compared my body to every single girl around me (read more about that here). I would go to parties and feel insecure around girls who were thinner than me. But if I say to myself, the person next to me isn’t attainable; only my best self is attainable, maybe I would’ve taken a deep breath and made a choice that brought me closer to my best self. Maybe I would’ve focused more of my attention on the friends I was with to be super present with them. Maybe I would’ve told myself that I loved myself. Maybe I would’ve gone out on the dance floor. Since I couldn’t control the other girls and guys around me-what they did or thought-then I might as well have focused on what I could’ve done to be the best ME possible.

Try this out! Here’s what I want you to do this weekend. Whenever you start to compare your life, body, success, etc. to someone else, say to yourself: the person next to me isn’t attainable; only my best self is attainable. Notice your mental and physical reaction. Maybe you relax. Maybe you soften. You will feel a shift of some kind, a lift.

I wanna hear from you!

What do you usually compare yourself to others about?

Made a pie with my baking idol

A few weeks ago, I met my baking idol, Joy the Baker (check her out, yo). It was a brush with fame for me, on the real.

Rolling pie crust with Joy

Remember when I told you to do small things to help you move forward when you feel anxious? Well, making pie is one of them! And cookies. Baking silences my anxious thoughts because it gives me something tangible to focus on, to complete.

Recipes literally tell you what to do. Ah, what a relief, right? When you’re so freaked out about what to do next in life that getting through the day feels like torture, a recipe that gives you steps, measurements, and instructions is so welcome. Plus, you can share your baked goods with your friends and everyone will love you and tell you how awesome you are (which you are), an excellent way to shift out of that anxiety.

Along with Joy the Baker, another awesome food blog is authored by an actual college girl! Emily is the girl behind Not Your Average College Food (ummm she’s been feautred on NPR, nbd) and she was part of The Happy College Girl Summit. She rocks.

When you need to get out of your head, take a break from all of the stuff that’s making you anxious, and still feel productive, try baking something. Then share it with friends. This can only help, college girls!

Also…tell your anxious thoughts to GET OFF MY JOCK.

Sarah and Joy get off my jock

Do small things e’rry day to move you forward

What up.

Outside Post Yoga Glow

If you’ll notice in the above photo, my forehead is shining with a gleam of sweat. This was taken after a rousing session of yoga (in July. outside. in the sun. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?).  Yoga has been my salvation for years, but particularly in the last few months as I’m experiencing quite a transition in my career and making some big decisions.

During this crazy-anxiety-producing transition (and during other anxiety-producing transitions in my life), when I feel paralyzed by decisions and (at times) hopeless that things will ever return to peace and get figured out, I’ve realized that only one thing helps me shift out of all of that paralysis and mental chaos: taking action.

I’m not necessarily talking about taking big actions on your goals, especially if you’re confused about what your goals even are. Rather, I’m talking about doing simple things to make yourself feel more peaceful, organized, and in forward motion. When you’re in a peaceful state, you can think clearly and make decisions with ease. And isn’t that what we really want during times of anxiety-producing transition?

Here are some of examples small things I do e’rry day to move forward:

  1. Make bed
  2. Go to yoga
  3. Call a friend/see a friend
  4. Send emails (to specific people, with a specific purpose)
  5. Spend an hour job searching
  6. Bookmark 3 jobs that look interesting
  7. Do laundry
  8. Call friend to make plans for the weekend
  9. Make doctor’s appointment
  10. Revise resume for 30 mins
  11. Take walk
  12. Write thank-you card

Make sense? All of these things make me feel good, centered, and productive. Instead of freaking out and hiding in bed because things in my life are undecided and so up in the air, I do easy, tangible things that move me forward. At the end of the day, I feel much more relaxed than I do if I stay in bed because I’m so anxious about all of the decisions I have to make.

Now it’s your turn! Make a list of simple things you can do amidst all of your school stress to keep you peaceful and in forward motion. And share your list with me. I’d love to help you create a daily plan to feel happy, peaceful, AND productive, especially during times of lots of anxiety and transition.