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6 Small Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day

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Heart favor
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It might sound a bit new-age hippie, but this semester has really given me time to evaluate who I am as a person and how I fit into my relationships with my peers. My freshman year was tough, and I don’t think the person I was and the person I want to be lined up.

I recently wrote a paper for a rhetoric class where I talked about value hierarchies. Value hierarchies simply display how we place certain values superior to other values. As I evaluated my life, I realized that last year I let the pressures of school, work, and extracurriculars override my desire to be less self-centered. In essence, my value hierarchy placed “me” above “others.”

Sometimes, especially in college, it’s unavoidable. We don’t pay thousands of dollars in tuition simply to be nice people. But despite the fact that my primary purpose for coming to college is to get a degree, I’m also here to foster relationships with other people. I truly believe that part of the reason I’m at UT is to build a community and be a helping hand to others.

I don’t think I’m alone in these ideals, either. You might find yourself wanting to balance out your life and do something selfless. I think nearly everyone wants to do something good, but most people can’t find the time. You might assume that you need to spend five hours a week volunteering in order to make a difference. It’s understandable in college to be stressed, pressured, and have limited time for others. You can’t do it all. But the truth is, change starts small. That’s why I’ve been trying to do little things to make the world around me brighter.

These small acts of kindness do not make me any better than anyone else. They simply give me an outlet to serve people I care about, one favor at a time. You probably already do some of these things for other people, but if you want some inspiration for how to make someone’s day, read on.

1. Write Notes or Cards

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Sometimes I just feel like I need an outlet for my creative side. I’m prone to writing notes to my roommates expressing how awesome they are, how much they mean to me, or wishing them good luck on a test or paper. If I’m really sentimental, I’ll write a letter and seal it up, saving it for a time when they really need a boost.

I’ve also been the recipient of small notes in the morning from my roommate telling me to “ace a quiz” or “have fun at work.” While simple, they actually put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. You can even mail the notes to your closest friends (even if they live a couple blocks away!). Receiving an unexpected affirmation is a great surprise!

2. Bake Something Sweet

Chocolate chip cookies
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Here’s my thing – if my roommate is stressed or has had a long day, I’ll pop some brownies in the oven. It takes me about five minutes to mix, and five minutes to clean up. The look on her face when she comes home to her favorite dessert makes me smile.

Baking is not only stress-relieving, but you can eat the results as well! If you want to go the extra mile, package up some cookies and decorate circle tins like this. Deliver the treats to your friends who could use a sugary surprise, or even to someone in one of your classes who has been having a rough day.

3. Buy an Extra “Something”

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Don’t you hate it when someone walks in with food, and you wish they could go back in time and order some for you too? Maybe I’m the only selfish one, but after feeling like this several times, I decided I didn’t want to inflict this food-craving on anyone else.

If I know I’m going to see a friend or coworker soon and I’m at a fast-food chain or small eating establishment, I’ll pick up something to-go for them (it works better if I know what they usually order). For example, I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of Jamba Juice without two smoothies. And I try to grab my roommate an extra coffee if we’re going to the same class.

It’s low-cost, and you’re already getting yourself something, so this is definitely an opportunity to do something nice.

4. Send a Text

Girl texting
Photo Credit: ELLE

While I’m all about the handwritten (see above), sometimes you just don’t have time, or you think about someone while you’re on-the-go. While it might feel tacky or rushed, a small text can actually be a great booster in someone’s day.

Sometimes I’ll get texts from friends ranging from the general “have a good day” to “hope your rhetoric exam went well.” They both make me feel awesome and loved. Spread the joy and take a few minutes (or seconds if you’re a super-fast typer) out of your day to send a text to someone you care about.

5. Extend an Invite

Dinner with friend
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Sometimes all it takes is extending an invite to remind someone you care. You don’t even have to be super-formal (“want to get bagels before class tomorrow?”) to be effective. You can let others know you value their company and ask people to meals, parties, meetings, etc. Just make sure you follow through.

6. Call an Old Friend

Talking on phone
Photo Credit: ELLE

I’m so bad about this one! But I love getting calls from friends I haven’t seen in a while, especially ones that don’t even go to school with me. When a high school friend calls out of the blue, we get to catch up, and I love knowing that they care enough to keep our relationship alive. Try it with your old friends that you miss, or even friends you met in college and lost touch with this semester.

Final Thoughts:

Finding balance between your values doesn’t have to be difficult. You might feel like you’re doing something wrong if you feel good doing things for others. After all, isn’t that actually being selfish? I don’t know the psychology behind altruism, but if you make someone’s day a little bit better, who cares!

Spreading joy can actually create a virtuous cycle where the recipients of your favors might feel inclined to help others in return. Not only can you keep your value hierarchy in balance, but you’ll help others as well.

What do you think?

How do you brighten someone’s day? Will you try out any of these ideas? As always, tell us what you think by leaving a comment!

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Trend Watch: Pastel Coats

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Trend Watch_ Patel Coats Collage
Photo Courtesy of ELLE: 1, 2, 3

Welcome to CF’s series, Trend Watch. From high fashion to street style, we’re covering all the latest trends, then showing you affordable ways to rock each look. This column is all about making super-trendy pieces work for the average college girl, so if you have a trend you would like to see featured here, leave a comment and let us know!

Usually, pastel shades are reserved for springtime. However, just like lace made a fabulous reappearance this fall, pastel hues are also in the spotlight this season. Even though they aren’t traditional fall colors, pastels add a fun twist to your cold weather wardrobe and will set you apart from a sea of gray, brown, and black hues.

Pastel coats are an amazing way to rock this trend from fall right into winter. Read on to find out how I would style pastel coats this season:

1. Pastel Chic

Pastel coat outfit
Sweater, Bag, Necklace, Jeans, Coat, Shoes

For the first look, I decided to feature this pretty mint green coat. I paired it with gray jeans and a soft and cozy cream-colored sweater. I love how the pastel coat and sweater are contrasted by darker pieces, like this color-blocked handbag and these bronze oxfords. The resulting ensemble is equal parts soft and structured.

2. The Simpler the Better

Pastel coat and striped dress
Bag, Coat, Dress, Shoes

What makes this ensemble unique and stylish is its simplicity. For those days when you want to hit the snooze button a few times, just stick to this easy outfit formula: Wear a comfortable yet edgy t-shirt dress with statement-making slip-ons and a beautiful pale peach coat. Grab a classic crossbody bag and you’re ready to go.

3. The Right Kind of Edgy

Pastel coat jeans and graphic tee
Top, Bag, Jeans, Coat, Ring-Bracelet, Shoes

This look is definitely my favorite of the three. It’s edgy but chic and the pastel gray coat really makes the outfit. If you’re wary about investing in a traditional pastel-colored coat (like powder blue, lavender, or light pink), this gray version is a fantastic middle-ground, plus you can wear it with everything.

To achieve this cool and easygoing vibe, pair your distressed jeans with a cute graphic t-shirt. I love, love, love the hand of Hamsa motive on this one! Wear a pair of black Chelsea boots and layer on that pastel grey coat. Lastly, accessorize with a trendy ring-bracelet to complete the ensemble.

Tell Me What You Think:

Which of these three outfits is your favorite? Do you like pastel coats? How would you wear one? Remember to tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

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Looks on Campus: Kelly – University of Nevada at Reno

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For many students, going home for Thanksgiving means seeing your family, high school friends, spending time in your hometown, and, if you’re lucky, going shopping. Kelly shared with me where she likes to shop when she goes home for break and how she thinks fashion will help her in the future, particularly because fashion connects her family.

Kelly 101

College street style at University of Nevada Reno

Name: Kelly

School: University of Nevada, Reno

Major: Communication Major & Business Minor

Year: Senior

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Let’s Talk Fashion

Where is your favorite place to shop when home? “Whenever I’m home I shop at Nordstrom‘s Brass Plum, T.J. Maxx, and a local favorite [called] Best Kept Secret.”

Why do you like fashion? “When I dress nice I feel good about myself. I guess I’ve always liked fashion. My mom and sister [are] all into dressing up and following trends. I would love to work in fashion one day; there are so many different fields and opportunities within the fashion industry that people don’t even think about. I think I would lean towards marketing within a retail store.”

How would you describe your style? “I don’t really know one name for my style. I think I’m more girly, but definitely comfortable and easygoing.”

What is your favorite fall trend? “Booties! I love all colors and designs. I also really love the skater-style skirts and dresses.”

What is the best way to complete an outfit? “Accessories. I wear some every day. It’s the best way to put the finishing touches on any outfit.”

If you could raid anyone’s closet who would it be? “Definitely both Olivia Palermo and Rachel Zoe’s closet[s].”

Elements of Kelly’s Outfit

1. Cutout Sweater

Cutout sweater trend

Kelly keeps warm in her cutout back sweater. She found this cuddly sweater in her favorite boutique: Best Kept Secret, which is located in her hometown, Las Vegas. The cross-shaped cutout on the back of the top adds a unique design element, and the muted coral color looks super-chic.

2. Army Green Studded Jacket

College student in army green jacket

This Forever 21 army green jacket adds an extra layer of warmth for chilly days on campus, and the stud detailing creates an added edge. Her color combination of army green and coral is unexpected yet cool, and Kelly pulls it off flawlessly.

3. Booties

College fashion trend flat ankle boots

Kelly mentioned her fall obsession with booties, so I couldn’t help but notice her detailed suede booties. Booties are plentiful in her closet, but this particular pair was found at Target. The light brown suede makes them a verstaile piece, and this particular pair has worn well over the years.

What do you think of Kelly’s cutout top?

Do you love that style? What about her flat lace booties? Would you wear her outfit? Comment below and share your thoughts!

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