How to have a summer on your own terms

Summer has always been synonymous with fun, relaxation, and a splash of adventure. And with this comes Instagrammable holidays, sun-drenched photo dumps and often an inescapable feeling that we should be doing more. 

I’ve been lucky enough to work in social media for social and environmental causes for the past five years and now I’m the Social Media and Content Manager at Relate. From this experience, I truly believe in the overwhelmingly positive power of online platforms. I see how social media gives a voice to those who have historically been silenced, amplifies conversations about important issues like mental health and sexual wellbeing, and allows communities to flourish around topics like LGBTQ+ rights. 

Yet, as progressive digital communities continue to bloom, there is a snake that’s disguising itself as liberation and #goodvibes as we move through these new waters. One particular trend that's been sweeping our feeds is the 'hot girl summer'.  

Don’t get me wrong. I love fun trends that create a shared narrative well beyond the online world. There’s a gorgeous sense of solidarity that comes with taking myself for a so-called ‘hot girl walk’ or seeing someone buy themselves that iced latte on the way home, just because. 

And while I applaud any movement that encourages us to embrace our confidence in the way the ‘hot girl summer’ trend does, it’s hard to ignore the implicit pressures that come with it. A pressure that suggests women should always be working towards a certain image, a certain lifestyle, or a certain version of ‘perfect’, that is, somehow, always just slightly out of reach. 

You define your summer, not social media 

While social media can be a hub of inspiration and connection, it’s essential to remember that it’s merely a snapshot of reality. The pictures, the updates, the stories—they’re fragments of vast lives lived off-screen. So, if your summer days aren't filled with hot dates and getting yourself manicures, or even the Sunday picnics we see over on #Softgirlsummer and wild nights out that define  #feralgirlsummer, that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it's more than fine; it's your authentic self shining through. 

Celebrate your choices 

One thing I personally struggle with from spending a lot of my day on social media (for, ahem, work, of course) is determining what I actually want to do, and what I’ve been influenced to want to do. Am I really craving gochujang air fried tofu for dinner, or have I just watched the same reel six times over the last two days? It sounds obvious but when we’re soaking up hours of content each day, the lines can become indistinctly blurred. 

But the thing is, we are so much more than just the content we consume. Taking a moment to tune in with yourself and make decisions aligned with what we really need takes practice – but it’s so worth it. There’s beauty in making choices that truly resonate with you, rather than fitting a mould crafted by the algorithms and trendy brand partnerships.

Seek real connections 

While our feeds can be absolutely packed with educational content about everything from race to makeup trends, to travel inspo and even self-help resources, making time to engage with our interests offline is so important for our mental health. These interactions, free from the highlight reel of social media, can ground us and remind us of what's truly important in the physical world and feed our human need for connection and community. 

Take social media breaks 

If social media isn’t getting a bit much, you might want take a step back every now and again. Try logging off for a day or two, dive into the outside world around you, and simply be. When you return, you'll often find yourself with a refreshed perspective, and not because that’s what hot girls, or soft girls, or any other kind of girls, do. 

So, as we move through this summer and beyond, I want us to find joy in our own journeys, however that looks. It doesn’t need to be about growing, or healing, slowing down or speeding up. It just needs to feel right to you - because at the end of the day, the best summer is one lived on your own terms. 

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