How to go ‘back-to-school’ without actually having to go back to school

13249733_193929321001346_1531618941_n(1)I have always loved the transition period between summers and fall, as the leaves begin to change, the air gets cool and crisp in the morning, and all things #pumpkin flavoured start popping up everywhere.  I think I have always associated this time of year with back to school shopping, seeing friends after the summer hiatus, my extra-curricular activities starting up again – September has always felt like a fresh start with new classes, new teachers, and most importantly, new clothes.

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This September will be the first in 22 years that I haven’t been a student heading back to school. I already miss that feeling of shopping for a new batch of school supplies, finding out who my new teachers are, and what friends are going to be in my classes – a fresh start. Although my days of going back to school are over, no one says you still have to be a student to get that ‘fresh start’ feeling.

Here are 6 steps to take this September to get that ‘back-to-school’ feeling without actually having to study, write papers, attend group meetings, take notes, and stress about finals.

  1. Buy one outfit that makes you feel fabulous.

It might not be the new back-to-school wardrobe we got when we were younger but according to science, buying one outfit you feel great in will instantly boost your mood, make you feel empowered, and is a way of reminding you of what you want and what you deserve.

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  1. Stop hitting snooze.

I am the worst for this because nothing feels better than getting an extra 10, 20, or even 30 extra minutes of shut-eye but in reality,  hitting snooze leaves you feeling sleep deprived, foggy throughout the day, and your productivity takes a major dive. Maximize your productivity and squash your habit of procrastinating first thing in the morning by setting your alarm for the actual time you need to wake up, and actually GET THE F*$K UP.

  1. Give yourself a compliment.

While we were in school we got validation from everywhere and everyone – our teachers, friends, or coaches, through grades, compliments, or playing time. Now, let’s be honest, a lot of external validation comes in the form of a ‘like’ on social media or a right swipe on a dating app.  Take the time to give yourself a compliment, once a day, whether you killed it at the gym, look great in your new jeans, or penned a really awesome email at work.

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  1. Connect with friends.

We may be past the days of reuniting with friends for a gossip session at our gym lockers discussing who kissed who at summer camp but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect with friends we haven’t seen in a while. Call up a few friends and get together for coffee or a drink, and by coffee in September I obviously mean a #PumpkinSpicedLatte, and by a drink I mean an adult apple cider.

  1. Pack a lunch.

Long gone are the days of my mom packing my lunch in my pink Winnie-the-pooh lunch box that I had until I was like fifteen and to be honest I have totally fallen into a habit of buying my lunch every day from the convenient salad bar around the corner from my office.  Packing a lunch not only saves you time, money, and calories, but studies show that eating in the lunch room with co-workers can result in a happier work environment, and “happy people just don’t shoot their husbands” (Elle Woods).

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  1. Join a league.

When I was in school I participated in all sorts of extra-curricular activities from the volleyball team, to chess club (so I didn’t have to go outside for recess obviously), to the school band (I played the oboe and then was asked to switch to the clarinet when I was still sounding like a dying cow in November), and these team and activities are where I made most of my friends.  Joining an adult recreation league will reignite your passion for sport, is a great way to meet new people, learn a new skill, practice your teamwork and communication skills, and change-up your normal working routine.

HOW TO ACT LIKE AN ADULT WITHOUT ACTUALLY HAVING TO BECOME ONE

I’ve been having this conversation with my girlfriends a lot lately, about being in that weird post grad stage of life. When you’re no longer a college girl skipping dragging her butt out of bed for an afternoon class, planning themed parties, and making out with her gym crush at the campus bar, yet you’re also not looking to settle down, buy adopt a pet and have kids anytime soon. Sometimes it’s hard to act like an adult when you don’t have adult responsibilities (see: babies, mortgage, a husband/wife, RESP, etc.) but it’s time to put the days of wearing Juicy sweat suits to McDonald’s on Sunday mornings behind us.  tumblr_nlrahePKVG1qdsjzio1_500

Here are my 10 steps to acting like an adult, without actually having to become one.

1. Update your email signature and voicemail greeting. Add those letters you just spent four years earning (BBA, BSc, BA, etc.) after your name on your e-mail signature and include a link to your LinkedIn account. Record a professional sounding voicemail so even if you are sleeping in past noon, or six vodka sodas deep at a house party, you’ll sound like you missed their calls because you’re working late or at a very important business meeting.  I recently discovered mine was me yelling at a club on my 21st birthday while my high school BFF Abbey smoked cigarettes.  (Update: Abbey is now happily married with a beautiful daughter and another one on the way, and I just updated my voicemail greeting).  And I think this goes without saying, but if your email address is along the lines of cutie_patootie69@aol.com change that too  #duh

2. Tidy up your social media accounts. I just started a new job so I was trying to update my LinkedIn profile pic the other day when I realized that I was struggling to find a picture of myself where I wasn’t posing with a beer in hand or duck lips. (Note: a long stemmed glass of red wine à la Olivia Pope is totally acceptable. If you don’t get this reference, it means you don’t watch Scandal, which means I’m about to change your life, which mean you should drop everything you’re doing and go binge watch it right now on Netflix #you’rewelcome #teamFitz).  All that to say don’t post anything that’s inappropriate or contains profanity and  delete pictures of you and your friends taking shots in barely there dresses, any photo that was edited in Picnik with an “inspirational” quote, and last but certainly not least, any photo that was taken with a computer web cam circa 2005.

3. Get smart about your finances. Download the app Mint, open a savings account and order a checkbook.

4. Get your nails done. Have you ever noticed how the girl with the flawless, chip-free manicure is also the most confident one in the room?  It’s a fact.  According to Morgan Stewart’s mother, Susan, the chicest woman on the planet, having chipped nail polish is your way of telling the world that you probably also wear dirty underwear #barf.

5. Decorate. Invest in beautiful and unessential home décor accents like throw pillows, coffee table books, trays, and candles. Fill your home with fresh flowers and stop hanging art with sticky tack or masking tape.

6. Floss.

7. Have a go-to drink order. There is something so sexy grown up about a woman who knows exactly what she wants, even if it’s just knowing what to order at a bar (Pre-hangover: Gin and soda, two limes, Post-hangover: Caesar, spicy bean, no celery) but if you are one of those weirdos health conscious women who says no to alcohol, knowing your exact coffee order is almost just as sexy. PS. Nothing is more chic than ordering your coffee black.

8. Stay informed. Listen, read or watch the news and not just while you’re at the nail salon or waiting in line at the bank (see steps 3 &4). Subscribe to The Skimm, download a news app that you can listen to on your commute to work, or at the very least follow some news networks on Twitter.

9. Stop wearing sweatpants outside of the house. End of story.

10. Eat quinoa and kale. And talk about eating quinoa and kale; it’s just what adults do. But really these two super foods contain all the energy, vitamins, healthy fats, protein, iron, fibre, and calcium that you need to get through the day and do all the things that adults have to do (see steps 1-9).

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All that being said, the most important step to becoming an adult is discovering who you really are, what your beliefs are and what you stand for.  Your twenties is a time to figure out what’s most important to you, what you want to work towards and what the best version of yourself really looks like.  It is my firm belief that sparkly, monogrammed and animal print throw pillows will be essential on your road to self-discovery.  Happy Adulting everyone!