Business management junior McKenly Taylor said she’s seen a big wave of movements focused on self improvement and self-love since the pandemic hit. Everyone comes to a point around college where they realize no one is going to do things for them, she said.
“It’s kind of all up to us to, kind of, wake up and create that destiny that we want for ourselves,” Taylor said.
Recently, becoming “that girl” — sometimes referred to as an “it girl” — has been trending on social media as a self-improvement movement. It focuses on having a perfect and solid daily routine, from waking up early to reading a book, exercising or drinking enough water in a day.
Taylor defines “that girl” as someone who knows what they want in life and isn’t scared of change. She has committed to doing at least four things to meet this lifestyle every day, which she calls nonnegotiables.
“No matter what, I’m going to get these things done every day,” she said. “And those are things like [drinking] a gallon of water a day, a minimum of 10,000 steps, 30 minutes of movement for my body and 10 pages of reading — just things that I know are ultimately going to make me better.”
Taylor said the pandemic acted as a reset button for her.
“I realized that I was putting way too much time and effort into things that weren’t going to give me lasting gratification. You know, seeking things like [a] title, or things that would be fleeting,” she said. “So I just kind of realized the more time and energy that I could put into myself and my relationships, the happier I would be.”
For the first time in musical theater senior Abby Humphreys’ life, she started prioritizing her mental and physical health during the pandemic.
“I’m really proud of myself in that regard,” Humphreys said.
Taylor started cooking more, eating healthier and prioritizing exercise and alone time.
“I think a lot of people don’t always realize the importance of alone time and just being alone with your thoughts in a healthy self-reflection kind of way,” she said.
Humphreys started her journey by learning how to be alone. Since starting, she’s more at peace with herself.
“At the end of the day, you know, you are the person that you have to come home to, you are the source of your peace. You are the source of your happiness,” she said. “You can’t get it anywhere else.”
Political science junior Shamima Afroz said she loved the TikTok trend at first, but it didn’t show how mental health plays a role in the lifestyle.
“Making sure your physical aspects are fine, or emotional or academic is great,” Afroz said. “But none of that matters if you’re [in] a bad mental health state. And that should always come first before some type of trend that makes it seem like your life was perfect when, in reality, it’s not always going to be perfect. It’s not meant to be.”
Social media makes it seem like one’s lifestyle has to be perfect, she said. But people shouldn’t beat themselves up when something isn’t going exactly like the trend.
“You should want to wake up early in the morning, workout, be productive and everything like that,” she said. “But then I thought about it, and I was like, you can’t live that type of life every single day.”
Afroz tried out this new lifestyle but said it became unrealistic.
“It didn’t stick because eventually life gets in the way, and we’re not perfect,” she said. “At some point, I felt like I was beating myself up about it if I missed waking up earlier, if I missed doing something correctly.”
Taylor said change doesn’t come easy, and it can be uncomfortable.
“The most change that you’re ever going to see, when it comes to anything that you’re doing, most of the time change is uncomfortable,” she said. “So don’t be afraid of the change or being uncomfortable. We should welcome it.”
Taylor said since starting her journey, she’s a lot more self-aware of her behavior, noticing when she’s healthy or needing more self-love. It has also impacted how intentional she is as a person.
“I know what I want out of life, and I know the steps that I need to take in order to achieve those things,” she said.
Taylor heard about the movement on social media. She said an important thing to remember is to trust reputable people who are doing it for the right reasons.
“Just be mindful of the influencers that you do follow and making sure that your morals and what you believe in matches up with theirs before you try and model anything that anybody else is doing,” she said.
Afroz said even if someone can’t make the lifestyle perfect, they should appreciate that they did some aspect of it. Trying it at all is a big thing, she said.
“The biggest thing to remember too, like, if you want to live that lifestyle, but morph it to you,” she said. “Do it on your own time, do it for yourself, it doesn’t have to be, you know, look, like the most biggest thing in the world.”
Celebrate small victories and start by doing small things rather than looking at the big picture, Afroz said.
“Take your time, literally take your time,” she said