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Don’t Do What I Do: Springtime Sun Edition

By Anne T. Donahue

A handful of days into spring 2021, and the most predictable thing has happened: I have spent a few afternoons sitting outside, and have been poisoned by the sun.

To me, this is not a surprise. Firstly, I am an idiot and I know this (see: I did not wear sunscreen), and second, I believed that because I didn’t want to get sunburned, I would not. This was incorrect, and on par with my equally upsetting choice to drink nothing but Pepsi while I became increasingly dehydrated. I am not outside savvy. But because I believe my mistakes should not have been made in vain, I want to relay any knowledge I have to you. Why? Because we’re in the midst of a pandemic and the outdoors is now all we have. Also, because had I read something like this, I wouldn’t have burned a small part of my neck that looks like I’m seconds from breaking out in full-body hives.

Spring is sexy, let’s get to it.

Put sunscreen on
Look. You’ve heard this. I’ve heard this. It’s old information that feels insulting to hear. And yet, I have chosen to ignore this information enough that for two days this week I felt like I was either freezing (sun poisoning) or on fire in a way that feels almost death-like (sun poisoning). And my reasoning? It’s because I’m lazy. I am a lazy, sad, tired woman, and I couldn’t be bothered to walk six steps to the kitchen to get the SPF 60 I need to survive. That said, had I done this I’m not sure my life would be any different. But for my sake, just try. Try, and then tell me: did not getting sunburned make you feel happier, and if so, how did you manage to get that feeling to last?

Dress wisely
And no, I do not mean “wear mosquito netting that may block out any/all UV/UVB.” (I think I saw an ad for something like that once as a kid, and lost my mind when my mom threatened to buy it for me. I mean, “Think about what you’re willing to wear for the duration of sunshine season.”

Because here’s the thing: I know you’re not going to wear SPF. I know that you’re likely like me, broken and completely impartial to advice. So that’s why I wore a shirt that wasn’t entirely sleeveless, but close enough that I will not have arms with a t-shirt tan. I also wore pants, because I hadn’t yet bought shorts for the year, and I’m certainly not about to order them online, are you kidding me. But that brings me to our next point . . .

Go through your old summer clothes now
There’s no time. The planet is heating up, and we’re minutes from it being too warm to wear long pants for outdoor ventures. So figure out what you need. Also, what you want. Also, what you can’t afford now but will spring for when you have enough to buy whatever it is you wan to buy. Online. All online. Which takes trying on and going through your old clothes now to another level: once you give something away, you can’t get it back again. And while I would love to say this hasn’t happened to me, I can confirm that for some reason I donated all my denim shorts last year (I mean, I do know why: I feeling terrible about myself, and thought I’d feel better if I . . . had no pants?) and am staring down the barrel at a handful of jogging shorts, a pair of jogging shorts that’s way too long, and one pair of denim wonders that transcend sizing altogether.

So pick a day where you feel not the way I did, and commit to the try-on. Get rid of anything you don’t feel amazing in. Put everything you’re lukewarm about on a shelf because nobody can go shopping right now, and shorts via the internet are a nightmare. Then, wear the pieces you have left to excess because not a soul on this planet (outside your household) will see you. And even if they did, who cares. Your shorts are cool and also can I borrow them.

Accept the fact that you have allergies (probably)
When all the clothing is sorted and sunscreen is on, that’s when it’s the perfect time to play the ultimate spring/summer game and spend full hours wondering if what you’re feeling is allergies or a life-threatening ailment.

To be honest, I don’t know. I have no idea. Currently, I am stuffed up and my ear hurts and I’m coughing a little bit, and I’m eating licorice for breakfast as I type out this sentence. Which means, to me, that I am on a slow escalator to death. Or, that my months of allergies have arrived and have clearly rendered me very pathetic. I like the second choice better, but my anxiety demands that I pay close attention to the miniscule chance that it’s all over for me, despite these symptoms appearing every year at roughly the same time. All I ask is that you pick one. Again, preferably the second. But if it’s the first, please meet me outside near several pollinating trees so we can test our hypothesis together while coming into contact with the buds and leaves and whatever the hell else earth does, weeping as we realize we are now also breaking out in a gorgeous allergy rash.

This is what spring is all about, friends. And if you can’t stand the heat, sit outside even longer so that your parents eventually ask you, “Have you seen how red your face it? How long have you been outside?”

Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!

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