You know that episode of “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse” where Malibu has a glitter shortage and all hell breaks loose because Barbie is supposed to attend a Hollywood premiere that night and she doesn’t want her fans to see her without any glitter? I feel like that’s a pretty accurate depiction of how my summer’s gone so far.
My “dreamhouse” is a little apartment on Central Campus, and toward the end of the school year, my roommates and I began to allow ourselves to consider the prospect of summer. Summer. The word itself drips with glitter and lake days and late nights. We all have jobs and internships, of course, but we’re used to being at the library until the early hours of the morning every single day. When you can’t remember the last time you got seven hours of sleep without feeling guilty about it, the idea of having nights and evenings completely void of homework sounds like something out of a fairytale.
But now summer’s here. We’re almost two months in, actually. And though our shoulders are tanner and our living room is packed to the brim with box fans we bought from CVS, it doesn’t really feel like summer. Day-to-day life doesn’t live up to the anticipation that the word “summer” carries.
Why? My theory is that the University of Michigan has a glitter shortage.
When I was in seventh grade, my mom told me I could practice wearing makeup. I couldn’t wear it to school, but I could wear it around the house, and once I started to get the hang of it, she would let me wear it to school. Naturally, I spent hours at the family computer watching tutorials from girls with usernames like juicystar07 and itsbl0ndie. When my mom went grocery shopping, I tagged along to journey through the cosmetics aisle. I used crumpled $5 bills I’d earned from babysitting to pay for pink lipstick and blue eyeliner.
The first time I was finally allowed to wear makeup to school, I covered my eyelids with silver glitter, just like I’d practiced so many times before. Other than math class, when a boy told me I looked like I was on crack, I felt glamorous all day. I wasn’t just another gangling, awkward middle schooler. I had created art on my face that showed I was a stylish, dazzling it-girl.
I’m 20 years old now, and my mom really doesn’t get much say as to what I’m allowed to wear anymore. I live on my own, so I call the shots. What do I wear now that I have no parental supervision?
Well, last night, one of my roommates had some friends over and we all got dressed up for a night out. I sat cross-legged in front of the full-length mirror in my bedroom and listened to my roommates laughing and singing as I put on my makeup. Foundation. Concealer. Blush. Eyebrow gel. Black eyeshadow to create the illusion of longer lashes. Thick, dark mascara that my mom got me for Christmas. No glitter. Not even a drop.
I’m finally old enough to wear whatever I want and I don’t even wear any glitter? Come on. Adulthood is a total rip-off.
During our walk down South University Avenue on the way home after our glitterless night out, my roommate, Shannon, and I asked ourselves why it doesn’t feel like summer yet.
“It feels like we’re just waiting for summer to start,” she said. “Like it’s going to be fun and exciting and full of adventure, but it just hasn’t happened yet.”
“I think we’re still trying to figure out who we are beyond homework,” I said. “’Cause during the school year, all we did was study and go to class and we never had to figure out who we were and what we wanted to do. And now that we have the time to do that, we’re just lost.”
I definitely wouldn’t say that seventh grade was the highlight of my existence, but that may be the last time my identity came from myself and not from my grades or my job or my resume. I knew what I wanted. I wanted more followers on my Justin Bieber fan account on Twitter and I wanted to wear as much glitter as humanly possible. Now, all I want is good grades, and when classes end and I no longer have an ability to earn good grades, I don’t know what I want. How sad is that?
The thing is, I’m not the only one who deep down inside is meant to be wearing glitter. How do I know this? Because if you walked down the hallways of Mill Creek Middle School in 2010, I wasn’t the only one with glittery eyelids. I wasn’t the only one whose first taste of independence was the ability to wear as much glitter as I wanted. Before we started spending every spare moment in the library, we all used to daydream about being glitzy and glamorous. Where did those big dreams go? When did we become so boring?
It’s not going to feel like summer until I learn how to have fun the way I did in seventh grade, until I learn that it’s okay to find satisfaction in something other than my grades or test scores. Until I realize that glitter may not be an addition to my resume or LinkedIn, but it’s still a perfectly good reason to be happy.
It doesn’t feel like summer yet because, yep, I’m glitter-deficient. That’s bad news. The good news? You can buy glitter eyeshadow on Amazon for $3. Anyone want me to order some for you?
Someone tell Barbie that Malibu’s glitter deficiency has nothing on the University of Michigan.