Spring cleaning 2.0

While it’s nearly impossible to imagine that the interminable crust of ice and snow encasing Midland will ever thaw out, radio and news hosts continue to chirp optimistically that spring is “right around the corner” because the spring equinox is a mere  days away on March 20. And though Mother Nature has obviously decided to completely disregard this milestone, spring is nevertheless about to officially begin; with it will undoubtedly come the influx of spring-cleaning. Obviously, much of this enthusiasm will be centered on peoples’ homes and yards. But I think this drive to oust the old and make room for the new can be focused into many more areas of our lives that need a little bit of a cleanup.  Here are my top five things to clean out of your life this spring:

1. Processed foods.  According to marketplace.org, processed foods make up over 70 percent of the average American’s diet.  It’s no secret that our nation has earned a reputation for overloading on sugars, unhealthy fats and salt, which are all staples in most packaged foods.  However, one thing that many of us don’t think about is just how many unnatural chemicals and preservatives are pumped into our favorite cereals and snack bars.  Subway recently caused a stir with the revelation that their bread included an ingredient known as azodicarbonamide (ADA), a compound used to make plastic and rubber products like yoga mats.  According to nydailynews.com, further investigation has revealed that ADA has been found in nearly 500 grocery store items including many other bread brands. Our bodies were not made to consume manmade yoga mats. Do yourself a favor and opt for foods that were grown or raised in nature, not ones that were mass-produced in a laboratory.

2. Technology.  Yes, I know that every single one of you reading this is going to think I’m being unrealistic and pretentious with this one.  But hear me out.  The Washington Post reported that teens spend an average of 7.5 hours a day “consuming media” – that’s longer than most of us spend doing literally any one other thing!  Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, all are useful and famously entertaining in and of themselves, but the point of sites like these is to share your life with others.  I’m sorry, but if you’re spending 7.5 hours everyday in front of a screen, you can’t have that much life to talk about. #unpopularopinion.  This spring, power down for at least a few hours everyday.  Actually do stuff instead of talking about doing stuff.  Live your life.

3. Unrealistic expectations.  Maybe it’s because I’m currently living in the pressure-cooker that is junior year, but this is one that’s been grating on me recently.  Since when do we all have to be genius-artsy-witty-gorgeous-funny Varsity athletes who save the world one day at a time?  As clichéd as it is, nobody’s perfect.  And want to know a secret?  That person you’re so jealous of and are constantly comparing yourself to has no idea what they’re doing either.  We’re all living our own version of this mess we call life, and no one has their act totally together.  So ditch the never-ending, self-deprecating thoughts this spring.  All they’re ever going to do is turn you into a jealous, nervous wreck, constantly second-guessing yourself.  You do you, because like my momma always says, the best way to guarantee being miserable is to try to live someone else’s life.

4. Language.  This ought to be self-explanatory.  Dropping a four-letter every other word in your sentence just makes you look like you’re desperate for attention in whatever way you can get it.  There are so many beautiful words out there for you to use, so why waste your breath on the meaningless nasty ones?  Go look up riparian, efflorescence, and petrichor – all are spring-related words that will be infinitely more pleasant to taste as they roll off your tongue.

5. Self-presentation.  I think our generation as a whole has experienced a disappointing decline in this area.  You don’t have to spend an hour in front of the mirror every morning to be able to leave the house, but for goodness’ sake, please have enough respect for yourself to put in more effort than throwing on a pair of pajama pants and running your fingers over your head.  Everyday is a chance to put your best foot forward and make a mark on the world, and spending some time “getting ready” reminds you that yes, what you do and who you are is important, and other people take notice of those things.  Walk with your shoulders back and your head high, and make it a point to smile at people.  Carry yourself like you matter, because you do.

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Rachel Reardon

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