“Wow, you glo’d up.”
This new, trending phrase would have lacked any meaning a decade ago. However, a new wave of high school seniors have been one of the the firsts to attach a specific name to the combination of increased confidence, better appearance, and being a wholly enhanced person that can come along with growing up.
Glo up. Alternatively, glow up.
The true meaning of the term is unclear, subjective to what any one person makes it out to be. Yet, all uses of the term share the same purpose: to convey a crucial physical or mental improvement that comes along with growing up.
Senior Krithika Rao
Senior Krithika Rao recognizes glo ups as simply a physical aspect of improvement rather than an elaborate change in a person’s personality or mentality.
“Personally, I think more physical appearance is a glo up,” Rao said. “But, I could also see how one would think of mentality.”
Rao does recognize the benefit in mental improvement rather than just physical, yet wouldn’t specifically call it a glo up. The environment you surround yourself with, she believes, is what’s allowing personal growth, not the intangible thing a glo up may signify.
“If you become more comfortable in your environment then you just feel more at peace with yourself,” Rao said. “So, you become more confident in doing certain things you probably wouldn’t have freshman year.”
When explaining her own glo up, Rao refers to her new found self-awareness, an aspect of her high school glo up experience she finds crucial.
“Mentally, [gloing up is] just me becoming more aware of what I like and what I don’t like. I wasn’t aware of that freshman year and now I am,” Rao said. “Instead of trying out different things and seeing what works for you, learn more about yourself and then try to assess what works for you based on that.”
Senior Varun Muthukumaran
Senior Varun Muthukumaran acknowledges two perspectives of a glo up: the physical and the mental. He reflects on his own experiences of gloing up, pinpointing specific improvements which contributed to his all around glo up.
“I think that, physically, I’ve become a lot taller, bigger, but that’s mainly for sports,” Muthukamuran said. “Maturity wise, I think that jokes that were funny back then aren’t as funny now.”
He recognizes fashion and appearance as a significant change from his earlier years to now, noting changes in hair, shoes, and other physical aspects as an improvement.
As conscious as Muthukumaran is of his own glo up, he has found flaws in the desire to glo up, acknowledging that feeding into societal standards is where gloing up takes a negative turn.
“The emotional part where people say bad things about you and you trying to adapt to that, that’s the bad part. But physically looking different, a change can be good that way,” Muthukamuran said. “But it’s honestly [dependent] on the person.“
Senior Roni Mayo
The internal aspect of gloing up is recognized by senior Roni Mayo. She measures her glo up through her increased confidence and augmented awareness of who she is.
“To me, I don’t think that a glo up is necessarily a physical thing,” Mayo said. “You’re growing up, not necessarily glowing up.”
For Mayo, it wasn’t something she did consciously. Rather, a glo up was a part of maturing and becoming a young adult.
“I didn’t really do anything, I just became more myself,” Mayo said. “I found things I liked to do and in a sense became selfish because I started to do things for myself rather than for other people and [started] putting myself first.”
While Mayo acknowledges that the change in physical appearance is definitely a factor in everyone’s transition to adulthood, she stands by her statement that a glo up is about personal growth.
“I really believe that you need to express who you are if you want other people to do the same,” Mayo said.
Senior Jeremi Kalkowski
For senior Jeremi Kalkowski, gloing up had a lot to do with physical appearance. From cutting his hair to gaining several inches in height, Kalkowski has seen a transformation from freshman to senior year.
“I’m definitely more confident with myself,” Kalkowski said. “To be fair, I am more narcissistic in a healthy way, though.”
Even though there is a socially-accepted definition of a glo-up, Kalkowski feels that most glo-ups should be individually defined. While society’s version of a glo-up is an important factor, the most important factor is recognizing one’s own personal growth and being satisfied with who’ve they become.
“People change all the time, they’ll never look the same whether they change for the positive or the negative, that’s not for me to decide,” Kalkowski said. “That’s honestly for people to decide for themselves.”
Senior Nathan Hui
Insecure about how he acted and looked as a young kid, senior Nathan Hui found himself becoming more attractive and confident throughout high school, although he notes it wasn’t a quick process.
“It was long, it did not change overnight. It def happened in high school, I glo’d up,” Hui said. “I think both physically and mentally [I glo’d up], because when I was younger I had chubby cheeks and my hair wasn’t the best. And I was also more confident; I wasn’t as shy.”
Hui recognizes the important role his friends played in his glo up, factors which boosted his confidence and comfort.
“I think [it was] mostly my friends that made me more confident,” Hui said. I’m more confident with who I am instead of putting on this fake personality to make people like me.”
While Hui has his own take on what gloing up means to him — physical improvement and strikes in confidence — he believes gloing up is subjective, for each person to define for themselves.
“I think [gloing up] happens to all seniors,” Hui said. “Going up is very subjective, depends how you define glo up it’s different for everyone it doesn’t have to be the looks it could be anything”