6th November 2023
Opinion pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the view of the Liverpool Guild Student Media or Liverpool Guild of Students.
Every Sunday night before bed, I tell myself the same thing: this week I will be on top of everything. I’ll do yoga before bed, read my book, do all the uni work I need to, and eat healthily. By Monday night, I usually feel like I’ve failed. This mindset is likely as a result of countless TikToks I’ve seen of girls doing mini vlogs of their day. These show an idealistic lifestyle where they somehow manage to balance studying, socialising and staying healthy all at the same time. We could refer to this lifestyle as the that girl lifestyle.
I have a Pinterest board called ‘That Girl’, a vision board for this ideal girl I feel I should be. The girl who jumps out of bed at five in the morning. The girl who does all the extra reading for her course, and even enjoys it. The girl who can survive her 9am lectures without a bucket of coffee. Basically, the girl who is everything that I’m not. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like this. But why is it that we’re constantly pushing ourselves to be this unachievable dream girl?
Urban Dictionary describes “That Girl” as:
“a girl (or any gender) that gets up at 5am, meditates, drinks smoothies, has showers every day, journaling, eating only healthy food, goes to gym every day, and is successful in many ways. This stereotype is typically on tiktok and films morning or night routines. Most likely rich too…”Urban Dictionary
When you break it down like this, it’s not difficult to see why we struggle so much with being girls, let alone with being That Girl. If you fit this definition, then you have my upmost respect because honestly, it sounds exhausting.
The thing is though, it’s hardly like I just sit around doing nothing all day while fantasising about a that girl lifestyle. So, with this in mind, what do I actually do that could almost constitute that girl’s lifestyle, and which aspects of the aspiration are just a bit too far-fetched?
I honestly wish I was a hardcore routine kind of girl. One with a consistent early wakeup time, early bedtime, and a rigorous skin care process at the same time. However, living with my friends, I have found that I will literally chat away until late, when my body finds itself shutting down, leaving me to collapse into bed. When this happens, the motivation to even wash my face and brush my teeth is low, let alone apply various moisturisers, serums, and spot creams. Obviously, with a late night also comes the very real struggle of getting out of bed in the morning.
Last year I was a morning person, finding my productivity highest from first thing in the morning until mid-afternoon. This would be when I would do all my work. Somehow, now I am the absolute opposite, setting about seven alarms each spread 30 minutes apart. When I finally wake up, I’ll end up chilling with my housemates for a while, before remembering we’re third year students with a lot of work to do. I still get the work done, of course, but I can’t help reminiscing on my second year self who could let herself have the afternoon off after writing large chunks of essays in the morning.
I can’t stress just how much I would love to be the girl who writes in her journal every day. I start one every January and every birthday, but they never seem to last longer than a few weeks. Somehow I don’t think I’m alone in this though. A few of my friends have also said that they want to start keeping journals in the new year, so we’re going to try and get into a habit of doing this together. Not writing in the same journal, just encouraging each other to write in it and keep it up. Whether we manage to write pages and pages one day, but only a line the next, we’ll still have a record of our last semesters at uni to look back on and reminisce.
From looking at Pinterest, something I’ve realised is that you can write whatever you want in a journal. Whether that’s just writing down what made you smile one day, or even writing a poem. We just need to grab a cute notebook and see where the pages take us.
Don’t even get me started on exercise, because I am the worst for finding a sport that I enjoy and sticking at it. Last year I bought a skipping rope, with the hope of finding a decent workout there. I kept it up until an old housemate told me they could feel the house shake when I jumped. Needless to say, that put me off skipping in my bedroom, and the rope quickly turned into a washing line.
I enjoy walking (you can’t beat a cheeky stroll round Sefton Park), but in the business of third year it’s difficult to find the time. For a while, I started walking to and from campus, which is about 30 minutes both ways. However, as the semester progressed, my bedroom was cosier for studying in than the Sydney Jones, so this also died out. I do really want to make the most of the lovely parks we have in Liverpool though! In the new year I will try (yet again) to get into the habit of a daily walk.
An area of growth for me this year has been enjoying more vegetables than I ever have before. While I may not be the healthiest gal in the world, I’ve learnt that I love bang bang cauliflower, mushroom pasta, and even broccoli when it’s well-seasoned. Until this year, each of these vegetables would never even get a look in on my weekly shop. However, in the new year they might even be regulars in my diet. I think one of the most important things I’ve learnt this year is to listen to my body. While it’s important to have a balanced diet, we need to treat ourselves!
Eating good food with your besties is most definitely a form of self-care. This semester, my housemates and I started having a different homemade soup and bread every week. This quickly turned into the highlight of everyone’s week. Although it sounds dramatic, the cosiness of the soup, combined with us sat around the kitchen table laughing until we cry, lit by candles stuck in wine bottles, will probably end up being a core memory of uni for each of us.
I’ve realised I don’t necessarily want or need to be that girl, but what girl do I actually want to be?
I want to be a girl who falls back in love with reading for fun. A girl who looks after herself through a mixture of comfort food and healthy meals. A girl who spends all her spare time chatting in the kitchen, who buys a new candle because she knows it’s important to treat herself. A girl who prioritises self-care when it’s needed, who is able to write her feelings in a journal without cringing. Maybe even a girl who finds enjoyment in exercise, rather than doing it just to look good.
Ultimately, I want to be the girl who tries to make the most of every day, without putting pressure on herself to do so just because others appear to. That’s the girl I want to be.
Featured Image Credit: The Author