SWUG lifeAh, college. You enter a starry-eyed freshman, dreaming of getting that hunky older guy's attention at frat parties. If you're lucky, you'll meet your future husband, because (per a Princeton alum who made headlines last week), that's the only time in your life you'll be surrounded by a suitable dating pool. By the time you're a wizened senior though, you'll know the cold, hard truths: Those frat boys want freshman, not you. That husband you went to college to find isn't going to materialize.
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So what's an empowered woman who requires male validation to bolster her self-worth to do? Navel-gaze about the paradox in that last sentence? Not if you're a senior at Yale. The women of New Haven's storied Ivy will turn their single girl senioritis into a portrait of strong female identity, thank you very much. In fact, they've even got a name for it: SWUG, which stands for "senior washed-up girl."
What exactly is a SWUG and why would anyone want to be referred to as "washed-up," you ask? One self-proclaimed advocate of SWUG life tells New York Magazine that these ladies who lapse "don't bother dressing up for class, or even for fancy parties (though they might still attend them), don't seek out meaningful (or even just sexual) relationships, spend weekends at their shared homes drinking in the company of other self-identified SWUGs, and feel utter apathy about their personal lives - all at the age of 21."
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Despite their self-proclaimed uniqueness; however, it turns out SWUGs are just like every other person who has ever gone through the identity-defining, personal-growth period between the ages of 18 and 21. In their attempt to cope with the rejection they feel, they're actually taking action and doing the same personal branding as celebrities and top executives. That's what's empowering here (creating an archetype as a way to explain senioritis); not "acknowledging that while younger girls may get all the attention, senior year can still be the best year. Because there's a certain freedom in just not caring."
You haven't actually given up, SWUGs; you've just realized something most people don't until their mid-thirties: In life, you only need to impress yourself. If you're happy with your own accomplishments and focus your attention on what really matters, everything else will fall into place. It might not happen in the bubble of college - or even immediately after - but it definitely comes from within. And what made you happy at 18 might not be satisfying at 21. This isn't ground-breaking information, but it bears repeating.
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As you get older, enter the workforce, and maybe become a mother, the notion of who "you" are again comes into focus. When your identity can no longer be that of someone who's just said "f*ck it" and given up - nor do you actually want it to - that's when being able to define yourself truly becomes empowering and complex.
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