There's an entire industry dedicated to fashion — the design, the business, the manufacturing. Fashion, at least for me, has become a big part of my life. I'm willing to splurge a little bit more for that dress in the name of fashion. And it got me thinking, why do we care about fashion? Why does it matter?

Why an off-shoulder top can mean so much more

Your style can influence the impressions that others have about you. 

Scary, right? The hard truth is that when people look at you, they immediately make assumptions about who you are. It doesn't matter who you're meeting, what you're wearing can instantly give off a certain impression about you. It could be a false one, but it also could be a honest one, depending on what you're wearing. 

I found this interesting study from Psychology Today that showed images of a man with his face hidden, so participants could only view his clothing. There was an image of him wearing a tailor-made suit and another with an expensive suit. Based off of these images, most of the 300 participants looked upon the man in the tailor-made suit more favorably, rating him "more confidence, successful, flexible, and a higher earner". Based off of his clothing alone, people made judgments about what kind of a person that he is. 


Whether you like it or not, what you wear influences how other people view you. The great thing about fashion, which is one of the reasons why I think matters, is that you can control that narrative. With what you choose to wear, you can choose how you want others to perceive you. 

Dressing a certain way can give you a voice. 

Going back to the example with the suit, the tailor-made suit made others perceive him as more successful. When listening to someone who might offer advice or instruction, wouldn't you be more compelled to follow the person who is clearly successful rather than someone who looks tattered and messy? 

"The clothes you wear and the way you groom yourself will change the way other people hear what you say. It will subconsciously tell them if you’re like them or if you’re different. It will determine whether they listen or ignore. Trust or distrust." 

The way you dress can give you a greater voice by making people more compelled to listen and really consider what you have to say. 

 Fashion is a way to say, "This is who I am", without ever having to say a single word. 

What you wear can affect your mood. 

Wearing comfortable clothes like sweat pants and a baggy t-shirt can give you instant feeling of calmness and sense of relaxation. On the other hand, wearing business professional clothes can make you feel fierce and powerful. And in the same way, wearing a long flowy dress can make you feel beautiful and magical. What you choose to wear can affect the way that you're feeling.

I remember one time my friends and I had an interview on a community service project that we were trying to promote. Although we were told that we were allowed to dress casual for the interview, we decided to dress up in professional business-wear anyways. By doing so, we were able to control the narrative (as aforementioned) about how we wanted the interviewers to see us, but it also gave us a sense of confidence that wearing the "same old" clothing wouldn't have done. 

This is one of the main reasons why I care about fashion. I want to feel confident and strong, which most of the time, are two things that I am not. By wearing certain clothing that I feel like I look good in, it increases my self-confidence. 


Dress for the life you want. 

Since the clothes can affect your mood, they can in turn affect how you take charge of your life. If you aspire to live a more free and carefree life, then wear comfortable, non-restricting clothing, to make you feel that sense of calmness. 

 When you dress for who you want to be, it's like stepping into the shoes — literally and metaphorically — of an entirely different person. The clothes make you feel like who you want to be, even if you're not quite there yet. 

Even if you don't have that life that you're aiming for yet, the clothes that you wear can unconsciously pull you closer towards it, giving you a different feel and perspective. You know what they say, "fake it 'til you make it," and by wearing the proper clothing, you're essentially faking this dream lifestyle until eventually it no longer is a dream, but rather a part of your everyday life.

So what's the takeaway?

Fashion matters because it's not only a form of creative expression, but forges a place for who you are and who you want to be in the world. While it can dramatically change your own perspective of yourself, it can also change the perspective that others have of you. With fashion, you control the narrative.

Why does fashion matter to you?


How fashion can psychologically benefit your life
Quebec City, the historic French-Canadian town, draws in all kinds of tourists looking to bask in its European charm and deliciously creative cuisine. I recently visited, but before that, I was sure to do a ton of research on where to eat and where to go. Quebec City is relatively small, so you can pretty much cover it all in 12 hours, unless you plan to go into museums, as there are quite a few, but not every one will pique your interest.

If you're planning to head into Quebec City, here's a 12 hour guide for spending it in order to make the most of your time there, hitting all the most beautiful spots and eating at the most delicious restaurants. Everything in Quebec City can be seen by foot, all you need is a camera and some nice walking shoes. In fact, Quebec City is full of walking tours, that's basically what tourism is here, so seriously, these better be great walking shoes.

While this 12 hour guide is very structured, there are also substitution suggestions based on your tastes of what to do, combining my personal experiences in Quebec City with research from other travel guides.

The Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City

9:30 AM | Quick Breakfast at Paillard ($)

Paillard has everything you need, from flaky and buttery croissants to icy cookie dough ice cream. Paillard is busiest at breakfast and lunch, they offer a variety of soups, sandwiches, macarons, homemade breads, cakes, and more. However, for breakfast, I would suggest opting for a simple croissant and a coffee. In fact, Paillard was named winner of the Quebec City best croissant contest in 2010. But if croissants aren't your thing, there are always macarons. Maybe they're not necessarily traditionally breakfast, but it's great to treat yourself from now and then and this can be one of those moments.

Other buzz-worthy breakfast spots:
Cosmos ($$)
La Buche ($$)

10:30 AM | Check out the Place de l'Hotel de Ville

The Place de l'Hotel de Ville is a town plaza surrounded by historic buildings and statues. In the center, is a fountain that lights up. There are often events and activities located here, but it depends on the time and day.

11:00 AM | Appreciate the small street, Rue du Tresor, of art being sold

In this small street of Rue du Tresor, there are lots of artists selling their work, most of which display different scenes of Quebec City. You can walk through and simply enjoy looking at the art, almost like in a museum, but you can also look at the art as a prospective buyer. The art is relatively inexpensive (art is expensive as is!), with tax included in most of the prices but it varying depending on the artist and the medium. In addition, I'm pretty sure that the art being sold is all original. I actually ended up purchasing a trio of scenes of Quebec City and I'm pretty happy with it.


11:30 AM | People watch in the Place d'Armes

Located just by the famous Château Frontenac is the Place d'Armes, a small park area with a fountain in the center, surrounded by the hotel and various restaurants. There are benches by the fountain and there are often street musicians playing all kinds of music.

12 PM | Lunch at Le Chic Shack ($-$$)

Milkshakes in mason jars, chalkboard coated walls, and fun mismatched lights will greet you at Le Chic Shack. Located in the heart of Vieux-Quebec, Le Chic Shack will charm you with its creative burgers, poutine, milkshakes, and homemade soda. They don't take reservations, but if there's a wait, it'll be quick.

They have quite a variety of burgers, from classic beef to bison and lobster and even vegetarian options. While the burgers are small, you can fill yourself up on fries and poutine. While poutine is not my cup of tea, people rave about poutine, so I think that it's worth trying. Le Chic Shack has the simple poutine, but also has some creative ones, such as masala poutine and poutine with beef and horseradish aioli. In addition to the creative sides, you can fill yourself up on sweet milkshakes or homemade soda. They don't carry any commercial sodas, but instead make their own using 100% fruit based purees.

+ Instagrammable
+ homemade sodas and delicious milkshakes

Substitution! If you want to eat a heavier breakfast and/or burgers at Le Chic Shack aren't your thing, save Paillard for lunch and eat a delicious sandwich.

1:30 PM | Explore Quartier Petit-Champlain

Quartier Petit-Champlain is the home to all kinds of shops and restaurants. From creperies to moose-themed gift shops to kitchenware stores, there are so many different shops to weave in and out of. The shopping center makes you feel like you're in a narrow French street, the cobbled streets and window boxes of flowers, there are definitely some Instagrammable moments here.

You can get down to the shopping area by the Funiculare, which is a cable car that moves down from the upper area into Quartier Petit-Champlain, or you can head down the stairs, known as the Breakneck stairs, but honestly they do anything but break your neck. With only 59 stairs, it's really not much of a feat.

+ Instagrammable
+ fun artisan goods

Quartier Petit-Champlain in Quebec City

3:00 PM | Visit Place Royale

Like the Quartier Petit-Champlain, Place Royale feels like a cute little town square. Although Quebec city has French influence, it reminded me of Rothenburg in Germany, having a church and a little square with some small restaurants. It's practically picture perfect. There's also a huge mural in the area and it's so pretty. The mural, called La Fresque des Québécois is located on the wall of the Soumande House on Notre-Dame Street. It features some of Quebec's notable features and celebrates cultural diversity of immigrants.

Place Royale in Quebec City


3:30 PM | Coffee Break at Maison Smith

Maison Smith is a simplistic cafe that has it all. But the best thing about this Maison Smith in Place Royale is that it has everything you need, ice cream, coffee, pastries, but there's also great outdoor seating that's perfect for people watching right in the middle of the square. The inside is cute and you can probably get some great 'grams, but it's so much nicer (in the summertime) to grab and iced coffee and sip it outside while people watching.

+ free wifi
+ relaxing

4:00 PM | Walk the Dufferin Terrace

The Dufferin Terrace is a long walkway in which you can get a nice view of the Château Frontenac, the picturesque hotel that you might think of when you think Quebec City, and also the St. Lawrence River. Go for a nice walk along the terrace, snapping pictures of the river and the hotel.

+ views
+ enjoyable stroll

5:00 PM | Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site

Located on the Dufferin Terrace is staircase that will lead you into the past. A quick 15-20 minute breeze-through will allow you to check out the whole site. For a dose of history, you can check out the archeological remains of the Saint-Louis Forts and the Château that was formerly the residence of the French Governor of New France and later the British Governor of Quebec, the Governor-General of British North America, and the Lieutenant-Governor of Lower Canada.

Throughout the center, you can see the kitchen, refrigerator area, and more that the servants would have been in. In addition, you can see information about the evolution of the Château and how it was added to over time, eventually leading to its destruction via fire in 1834. While the St. Louis Château was being repaired, the governors split their time between St. Louis and the New Château (Château Haldimand), which is now where the Château Frontenac hotel stands.

+ quick
+ a dose of history
+ free!

5:30 PM | Walk from the Promenade des Gouverneurs

From the Terrace to the Citadelle, there's a quieter walking path connecting the two, the Promenade des Gouverneurs. From there, you can see the St. Lawrence River and the back of the Citadelle. Enjoy a casual stroll and nice scenery.

6:30 PM | Check out the Parliament Building

The Parliament Building (Hotel du Parlement) is an important historical site of Quebec City. Its architectural style has the popular Second Empire architectural style, and by popular, I mean that it was popular for the important buildings in Europe. Basically the who's who of European buildings. Outside the Parliament, there are 22 statues of well-known people to Quebec's history. Snap some pictures of the building and check out the surroundings, enjoy the fountain, you know, enjoy yourself.

7:00 PM | Walk Rue St. Louis 

More French-like architecture and narrow streets! Rue St. Louis is no exception. Take some snaps of the European charm while working your way back towards Place d'Armes for dinner. If you get to the restaurant before 8 PM, you can enjoy some street musicians, there are often musicians out there in the summer by the park. In addition, near the Chateau Frontenac and the Dufferin Terrace, there are often performers, jugglers, magicians, etc. out there, especially at night. Enjoy the free entertainment before dinner, but otherwise you can take your time strolling down Rue St. Louis.

Rue St. Louis, Quebec City

8 PM | Dinner at Chez Jules ($$)

Chez Jules, formerly known as Le Pain Beni, is a French restaurant located at the heart of Vieux-Quebec. It carries the same charm as the brasseries in France, despite the fact that it's located in North America. Chez Jules carries the French classics without ever having to venture beyond the Atlantic.

Rebecca's must-try picks: Confit Duck Leg or Tagliatelle Pasta with Truffle Sauce

Other buzz-worthy restaurants:
Le Saint-Amour ($$$)
Nina Pizza Napolitaine ($$)
Le Lapin Saute ($$$)


If you have more time:

12 hours isn't much and although this guide covers the famous spots, there's still more to see in Quebec City. Here are more notable spots in Quebec City that are worth a visit if you have more time.
*  Musee de la Civilisation [for the history lover]
*  Citadelle [for the history lover]
*  Montmorency Falls Park [for the nature lover]
*  Musee national des beaux-arts du Quebec [for the art lover]
*  Quebec food tours [for the food lover, obviously]
*  Quartier Saint-Roch [for the nightlife lover]

A couple days ago, I had a total meltdown and got super stressed about one thing. I was afraid that I wasn't good enough. I had what I considered a reality check, where I suddenly realized that my skills weren't as refined as I thought they were. I broke down, crying, you know, those messy tears that no one needs to see, convinced that I wasn't good enough.

the constant fear that "better" still isn't good enough and how to deal with it

The thing is, we go through our lives, constantly trying to be better. But there's always that nagging fear that "better" is still not good enough to get by. Will I be good enough at math to pass the test? Will I be a good enough candidate to get that internship? Will I be good enough for someone to love me? We're constantly trying to check to see if our efforts will get us where we want to be.

There's always that nagging fear that "better" is still not good enough to get by.

While it can be a great motivator to get working and to strive to be better to reach that given threshold, it's also a cause of constant stress and fear. I'm always wondering if I'll be good enough. But how do I know if my efforts will be enough to get me where I want to be in my life?

Related: Overcoming the Fear of Not Being Good Enough

Some things are more obvious in being able to tell if you're fit for your goals. For example, the math test. It's pretty clear that if you're able to answer the majority of your practice problems consistently, it's pretty likely that you will pass that math test. But for other things, the threshold is blurry. 

For that internship, you might have gone to a stellar school and passed all your classes with flying colors, but you're just not the kind of personality that they're looking for. On the other hand, your personality could fit, but maybe your skills aren't well-refined. The problem is, you don't know what they're looking for so you don't know if you have it. Sure, you could try and gauge what they're looking for based on hired employees and their reputation, but you'll never know for sure what that threshold is in order to ensure that you'll be good enough to reach it or even surpass it. So how do we ever know if we're "good enough" if we don't know what "enough" is?

The thing about being "good enough" is that it's relative. Maybe I think that chocolate cake is good enough for my standards because I like chocolate. On the other hand, someone else, that isn't so fond of chocolate, might not think it meets his/her standards.

Everyone has their own relative standards of what "good enough" means. It's all about perspective.

Because it's about perspective, in some cases, people may say that you aren't qualified enough or you aren't what they're looking for. And it's a little bit disappointing. While disappointing, sometimes the thought of that can be a driving factor for encouraging us to get up and fight to be better, which can be a good thing. It's good to be encouraged to always be striving for more.

However, in the process, you also have to be realistic. To the standards of others, there will always be someone that values you, that thinks that you're more than "good enough", but on the other hand, there will be people that might not agree. While that may be true, we have to remember that it doesn't always mean that it's your fault. Maybe you're just not what they're looking for. It's not a matter of if you're "good enough", but if you fit. And there are just some things that might not be the best fit for you and you might not be the best fit for. And that's okay.

It's scary thinking about "am I good enough", but the truth is, that you will probably never be satisfied. We're looking for this threshold that might not even exist. And do you even want a threshold of "enough"? If anything, isn't that holding you back?

Why be just "enough" when you could be so much more?


Try your best. Try your hardest. Always try to be better for yourself, so that you can be good enough for your standards. Are you exactly where you want to be? Are you good enough for yourself? If the answer is no, then keep on pushing yourself, keep on doing whatever will make you better in your eyes. Will that college degree make you better, make you feel happier about yourself? If so, then go for it. Want some experience in a new skill? Then work towards that goal.

There's no line to cross that will make you magically "good enough", all you can do is strive to be the best version of yourself. And that's what I'm trying to do.

All over the internet, I see hairstyle tutorials claiming to be "quick and easy", but they look far from it and usually I can never successfully recreate it. Because of that, I decided to test hairstyles that I found on Pinterest that claim to be "quick and easy" to see if that's really true.

My level of hair expertise is pretty limited. I wear my hair down everyday because I'm a) too lazy to style it and b) I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to styling hair. My abilities are restricted to ponytails (after a considerable amount of effort) and simple braids. No fancy French braiding or dutch braiding, I'm all about the basics. So this will be an adventure.

What's my judging criteria?

In order to best describe the test to figure how just how "quick and easy" these hairstyles were, I established some criteria in order to judge them. Therefore on each hairstyle, I have listed the learning time for the hairstyle, the time that it takes to execute the hairstyle (post learning), my ranking for its difficulty, and then my ranking for its level of style. 

Here's some more in-depth explanations of each part of my criteria. 

  • Learning time:  Since I had never tried these hairstyles before, I expected that the time to create these hairstyles would be a little longer, since I needed to learn them. Because of that, I timed how long it took for me to learn how to create these looks in order for your to gauge the difficulty.
  • Time to execute:  Once I had figured out how to do these hairstyles, I timed how long it took for me to do the hairstyle, a more accurate time for everyday wear. 
  • Difficulty:  On a scale from 1-10, 1 being easiest and 10 being the most difficult, I ranked how easy these hairstyles really were for me.
  • Style:  A big part of Pinterest hairstyles is the style factor, how pretty they actually are. However, some of them, although they might be quick, aren't always looking exactly how Pinterest shows it in the image. Therefore I ranked how stylish I thought each hairstyle was on a range of 1 to 10, 10 being most stylish. 

2 Minute Low Braided Bun [link to pin]


This braided bun was surprisingly easy. I was expecting it to be a bit more complicated, thinking surely it can't take only 3 minutes, but I was wrong. This hairstyle is simple and straightforward. Thankfully, you can get away with being pretty messy with this style, but it's super secure and won't fall out, unlike some other buns. I only needed 2-4 bobby pins to secure this bun and tuck away some strays, but the other strays I just left out and it still looks nice. 

While it doesn't look exactly like the picture in the pin, I think that it looks pretty close! You can't see the braids that well because the braid was falling out a bit, but for the most part, it's pretty similar. 

Would I do this hairstyle again? Maybe, actually. It's a pretty nice hairstyle and has a bit of elegance to it. It's also actually super easy and quick, so this pin was a win. 

Learning time: 4 minutes
Time to execute: 2 minutes
Difficulty: 2/10
Style: 8/10

Flower Braid [link to pin] 


This hairstyle was listed in an article by Cosmopolitan called, "15 Hairstyles for Super Lazy Girls Who Can't Even", so I picked it, because I'm pretty lazy. This one is probably the one that I expected to go wrong, since the final product looks so nice, way beyond my skill-set. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. I ended up getting it on the FIRST try.

Mine is a lot less clean and more messy than the article's but I'd say that it still looks pretty nice. It doesn't really look like a flower, but it still looks good, more like a messy braided mini-bun. The biggest problem with this pin is getting the braid into a flower, I just can't get it in that shape. While it's not as refined as the picture shows it, it's still pretty stylish.

Learning time: 3 minutes
Time to execute: 3 minutes
Difficulty: 2.5/10
Style: 7.5/10

Easiest Curls Ever [link to pin]


This hairstyle is from the same Cosmopolitan article, being called the "easiest curls ever". Basically, you put your hair up in a ponytail and then separate sections of the ponytail and curl them, then take out the ponytail, but you can click on the pin to see that and recreate it.

In terms of ease, this was super easy and straightforward. Unlike the other Pinterest hairstyles, this one needs no additional learning time. However, it's success also kind of depends on your hair type. I have relatively thick hair and it's also naturally thin, which makes curling a bit more difficult for me. In addition, since my hair isn't that long, once I had it in a ponytail, there wasn't a lot left to curl, which left less curls than I would have liked.

With a thinner curling iron, and maybe longer hair, I could see these being potentially the easiest curls ever, especially if you have thinner hair. However, based on my hair type, it just wasn't as successful as I bet it could have been. 

Learning time: none
Time to execute: 4 minutes
Difficulty: 1/10
Style: 5.5/10

Messy Bun [link to pin]


I've never really felt like messy buns look good on me and I have also never been very good at doing them, but I decided to go ahead and try this one. It's claimed to take less than 2 minutes, but for me it took a bit longer, since I'm not great at high ponytails. 

I did manage to get my hair up but it doesn't look nearly as stylish as in the picture. While the other one looked pretty chic, mine looks messier. But, I mean, I guess it is supposed to be a messy bun. This one was not my favorite and I probably won't wear it again, but yeah, it's a simple messy bun that can get your hair out of your face, but for me, it wasn't really as stylish as I had hoped it to be. 

Learning time: 3 minutes
Time to execute: 3 minutes
Difficulty: 2/10
Style: 5/10

Everyday Flip Twist Ponytail [link to pin]


Okay, I have no idea how this hairstyle took me so long because the instructions were pretty simple. I had a little trouble with this one, since whenever I twisted my hair back it always came loose. You can see in the picture that on the right, the twist is a little loose. 

The pin requires you to curl your hair, which I kind of did, relying on the curls from the last pin for the "easiest curls ever", which weren't really that prominent. In terms of time, it's not hard to get the ponytail and twirls up, but you also have the added time of having to curl your hair, which to me doesn't seem so quick anymore. While all the steps are pretty easy, the time that it takes to curl your hair to prep for this hairstyle really adds on a lot of time. 

Learning time: 10 minutes
Time to execute: 2 minutes (minus the hair curling, it takes me about 20 minutes to curl usually)
Total time to execute: 22 minutes
Difficulty: 2.5/10
Style: 5.5/10

So what's the verdict?

I have to admit, all of these Pinterest hairstyles were pretty easy and quick (with exception of the flip twist ponytail, which wasn't that quick). However, the main problem with Pinterest hairstyles isn't that they're not easy and quick, it's that they look perfect and it's difficult to make your hair as pretty as the picture looks. Regardless, these turned out nicely, although not mirroring the images from the pins, they still look wearable. I guess with a little practice, any hairstyle can become quick and easy, just be prepared to be okay with having it look a little bit messy. 

I Tested Pinterest Hairstyles to See How Quick and Easy They Really Are
If you haven't already guessed from the name from the blog, I like growth. And sometimes we need a little push to get us excited and motivated to make that growth. And you know what? A new school year is exactly that. Whether you're heading into a new school, maybe your first year of college, or if you're headed back to a familiar place, where you already have friends you're excited to see again, it's good to goals so that you can grow and make this year your best yet.

Why You NEED New School Year Resolutions


They encourage positivity when going back to school.

Surprise, New Year isn't the only time that you can make goals. Heading into a new school year, I believe that new school year resolutions can help you go back to school with more positivity. Instead of being stuck in the mindset of "I can't believe I'm back at school," mourning the summer, you're thinking about all of the new possibilities of a new school year. Setting goals can make you more excited about the future, which will get you in a positive mindset in a time that can otherwise be sad.

They push you to do more.

Whether it's academic achievement by increasing your grades or whether it's pushing you to get a little bit more out there socially in order to meet new friends, having goals in place can push you do to things that might be a little bit out of your comfort zone or might be a bit more difficult to achieve.

They can be reinforced by New Year's.

The big problem with New Year's resolutions is that they're created once and then never reinforced. There's no checkpoint in order for you to make sure that you're on track. By making new school year resolutions, by the time that January rolls around, you're already half-way into the school year, which is a PERFECT time to revisit your new school year resolutions, like a checkpoint to remind you of your goals and maybe even revise your approach to your goals.


Related: Huffington Post - Why to Make New Year's Resolutions in the Fall


They encourage you to put in more effort in school.

I know that for some people, the beginning of the year is the time that they're most motivated, but for me personally, I'm a mess at the beginning of the school year. Still in summer-mode, I am the most forgetful for assignments and just can't seem to put in my full effort, since I'm mourning the summer. New school year resolutions gives you goals that you can aim for, which encourages you to put in your all when the new school year rolls around.


So now, how can you make these new school year resolutions?

When making goals, in order to make them stick, it's good to make SMART goals. While the acronym may sound a little tacky, it works, trust me.

Make goals "SMART" by making them:
What you said! I asked on Twitter to vote for
what you want to change/improve
in the new school year!
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Time Bound

This means that you want to avoid vague goals, such as "Improve my grades" and give a deadline, a reasonable outcome that you want to attain, a measurement in how much you want to improve by, and maybe a specification such as which subject you want to improve your grades in.

I asked on Twitter for some of you to vote on what you want to change/improve in the upcoming school year that can be a great jumping-off point for your resolutions. While I have listed four potential resolutions that you can specify based on your own ambitions and circumstances, there's no need to limit yourself to what I have mentioned. The possibilities are endless!

Feel free to use these listed resolutions that I've come up with, but specify them based on what you want to achieve this school year and also whatever is most relevant and reasonable in your life.

Happy resolution-making! Let's make this school year our best yet!

What are some of your new school year resolutions?


Why You NEED New School Year Resolutions

As someone who is an avid lover of her comfort zone, sometimes I need a little push to get out there and do things that I otherwise wouldn't. I see Pinterest quotes everywhere telling me about the importance of saying yes to new adventures. But do I follow them? Not really. So I decided to see what would happen if I followed that advice. In order to experience that, I decided to try it, spending an entire day saying yes to absolutely everything (within reason, of course). Here's my adventure and what I learned from it.

I Said Yes to Everything for a Day

9:30 AM. Yes to donuts.

If I was going to say yes to everything for a day, I figured that it should include my cravings too. Partially because I had been madly craving a donut for the past week but also because I aimed to push myself out of my comfort zone during the day and I think that I needed a win to start off the day with. Despite my crying wallet and my miniscule sliver of health consciousness, I headed to a local donut shop, not just a Dunkin' Donuts, but one of those aesthetic but pricey donut shops.

11:30 AM. Yes to unexpected plans. 

I'm just going about my normal business, I had just eaten my delicious donut and I'm about to get some work done and eat lunch. Surprise! Some of my friends text asking if I'm interested in going out to the park with them. Normally, I hate unexpected plans, I like getting a heads up, so I would usually either decline or give a vague answer just in case I decide that I'm not up for it. However, today I was saying yes to everything, so guess what my answer was? My friend said that she would drop by to pick me up at 12:30, which gave me about an hour to get ready, prep lunch, and eat.

Although totally last minute, which I kind of hated, I actually had a good time. Since we didn't have any solid plans for what we would do, a result of being spontaneous, we ended up walking around the park and then just sitting down and talking. And honestly? It was so refreshing. To be able to just sit down, talk, no phones, hanging out in the park, was relaxing and just what I needed. Somehow the spontaneity of the plans made it not stressful, but relaxing.

3:30 PM. Yes to ice cream.

Suddenly, what looked like a scary, step out of your comfort zone kind of day turned into a day of giving into cravings. My friends suggested that we stop by an ice cream place, one that I had never been to, and guess what, I said yes. Ended up with a heaping cup of salted caramel mocha chip ice cream, 3 scoops to be exact, even though I got the smallest size. This is why I love America, even the smallest sizes are still large quantities of delicious food that I probably shouldn't be eating.

What's the takeaway?

Throughout the day, I'll be honest, I wasn't really pushed out of my comfort zone much. The thought of having to say yes to everything is scary, it makes you imagine doing all kinds of things that you probably wouldn't do. However, I wouldn't expect for you to be going on any crazy adventures just from saying yes for a day.

My day wasn't actually that different by saying yes to everything. Honestly, it was pretty much the same as always. I did say yes to something that maybe I wouldn't have, going out with my friends unexpectedly, it wasn't completely out of bounds. However, by being open to to possibility of heading out with no plan ended up being exactly what I needed.

The truth is, saying yes to things doesn't mean that you have to do things that make you uncomfortable. It doesn't mean that your day will go completely out of your hands. 


 Saying yes just means being open to the possibilities. 

When I started this, just thinking about saying yes to everything made me nervous. But in reality, on a day to day basis, saying yes isn't that hard and it's also not that unreasonable. It's way easier than I expected.

Yes, maybe if you lead a crazy, fun-filled life, (I do not), you could end up trying some new things that are totally out there, but in the normalcy of every day, saying yes does not mean that you're a crazy daredevil or a super risk taker. It just means that you're open to all kinds of possibilities and I kind of liked it.

My takeaway from the experience is that I shouldn't be scared of saying yes because it's not as out there as I imagined. While saying yes to everything for a day didn't magically change my life, it did teach me that it's not so scary.

I Said Yes to Everything for a Day
My name is Rebecca and I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. Instagram has somehow changed from being a fun way to share what's happening in my life into a chore.

According to Time Health, "studies have suggested that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social networking sites are more likely to report psychological distress." While it seems to be a general trend that all social media promotes negative mental health, to me and the rest of the world, Instagram stands out in particular.

As a few months ago, in May, a study published by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement announced that Instagram was ranked worst social media platform for young people's mental health and this didn't come as a shock to me.

Why Instagram Is Ruining My Life and Why I'm Kind of Okay With It

Why wasn't I surprised? In my own life, I have been seeing the mental strain that comes along with social media, experiencing it on almost a daily basis. I've been constantly feeling mixed emotions about it. I love it, but at other times I completely hate it what it's doing to me.

A while ago, I tweeted out something about my mixed feelings for Instagram and it seemed that a lot of other people felt the same way. 

Seeing that I wasn't the only one in the midst of an intense battle of love vs. hate over Instagram, I decided to give each side their moment and explain the pros and cons. General consensus seems to be that yeah, sometimes Instagram makes me feel terrible about my life, but at the same time, I'm a) totally addicted and b) love the positive benefits of Instagram in my life. 

WHY INSTAGRAM IS RUINING MY LIFE

I struggle with the fear of missing out. 

The fear of missing out is literally exactly how it sounds. Looking at social media, you see the lives of other people and you see that they're having fun. Without you. This spurs, you guessed it, the fear of missing out on all of the fun. For me, this is most difficult when I see my friends and/or people that I know in person on social media going to social events that maybe I a) wasn't invited to, b) decided not to go to, or c) is so completely amazing that I would never even imagine going to.

It's most difficult in these situations for me personally because with social media influencers, I know that their lives will always be exciting on social media because that's their job. However, with people that I know personally, they're more like me. I know where they went to school and what classes they're taking. They're people that I can relate to more based on what I already know about them. I feel that connection with them and I know that we're somewhat similar.

However, knowing that these people are just like me, seeing posts online of them doing extraordinary things or going to fantastic events makes me feel like I'm a) slacking in my life or b) just pathetic and not cool. If we're all supposed to be in about the same place, we're about the same age, we have similar skills, we maybe even took some of the same classes and went to the same school, but here they are, doing more than me.


Instagram amplifies my fear of being left behind by almost showing me proof of it, spurring the fear of missing out.

While some of this is can be positive, like when I saw someone that I know personally give a speech at a major event (surprise: I was jealous), which positively spurred "I should actually do more with my life" motivation, some of it is self-induced and completely unnecessary, like seeing people I know at a party. Even though I know that I probably would have hated it at that party, I still feel bad about not being there, like maybe somehow I'm missing out on the fun. Instagram instills that fear in me. While I could actually be having fun or doing incredible things, I'm too worried about what other people are doing.


Related: The Fear of Missing Out and If You Didn't Post it On Social Media, Did it Really Happen?


It gives me unnecessary stress.

"Should I post this?" I frantically text my friends, sending them a picture to approve. I sit there, impatiently waiting for their responses. When they finally give me the green light, the next thing that I text is, "Someone give me a caption," and then ponder over the best caption option for the picture, vetoing some and considering others. But sometimes, I like none of the options they give me and I'm stuck stressing even more, having no idea of the perfect caption. It needs to be cute, yet witty. It needs to be me, yet relatable.

I can't tell you how many times that I've gotten caught up stressing about a single post on Instagram. Sometimes I worry about the little things, like the caption, or the time of day that I post, but sometimes I worry about the holistic view of my Instagram, like my feed's aesthetic. The point is, there's always something to stress about with Instagram. I worry about keeping up and posting in order to stay active. I worry about whether I should use the C1 filter or the A6 filter. If you added up all the time that I've spent stressing over social media instead of actually doing what I want with my life, it would be way too much.

Building off of the fear of missing out, social media is constantly stressing me out. Whether it's me stressing about my own feed or stressing about someone else's, I waste too much of my life worrying about it. Maybe I could actually be creating something amazing with my life, but instead, I'm staring at my phone still debating between whether I should use the sun emoji or the flower emoji in my caption. And I'm totally sick of it.


Related: The Pressure of Social Media


I'm trying to become like other people.

When it finally becomes my turn to do amazing things, looking at social media makes me think about all the things that everyone else has done successfully and how I can do the same. The problem with that is that I'm often finding myself trying to recreate other people's versions of success. Whether it's something small, like a successful well-liked Instagram post, or it's with bigger things, such as my ambitions and life goals, I'm letting other people's lives influence mine, trying to make mine more like someone else's.

I see now why it's called the "follow" button, you follow their life updates, but you're also compelled to follow after their life choices.

Social media makes me want to follow other people. Not just on their social media platforms, but also in life. I see now why it's called the "follow" button, you follow their life updates, but you're also compelled to follow after their life choices. Seeing someone's perfect life makes you want to recreate it for yourself and soon enough you're following someone else's life direction instead of paving your own.

It encourages insanely high expectations. 

It's summer and I just saw the most swoon-worthy pool party picture on Instagram. Cute bathing suits, pink flamingo pool floaties, fancy drinks, and everyone smiling and laughing. "That looks like so much fun," I think, when I see the picture. All I wish is that I could be there and be as happy as them.

So when it comes time that I go to my own pool party, I'm hyped. I'm imagining literally the exact same picture that I saw, but with me and my friends substituted in. When I get there, I see no pool floaties, fancy drinks, and quite frankly, the conversation is dull and little bit awkward. I'm so disappointed. The whole week leading towards the party, all I imagined was that Instagram picture becoming my life, it set my expectations through the roof so by the time that I get there and it is less than I expect, I'm a lot more upset than I would be if I had zero expectations.

The problem with Instagram is that it shows the best moments, and we go through our lives, expecting these moments to come true, but in reality, our lives are not a series of best hits. 

WHY I'M KIND OF OKAY WITH IT

So I've ranted a lot about how much Instagram has ruined my life. So why do I deal with it? Why do I continue using the app?


It's a place to connect with others.

This is the most obvious one. How else would I know that Grace went on a beach vacation with her family and that Sarah just graduated from UCLA? Social media, including Instagram, offers the ability to keep up with the lives of others, no matter far they are away from you, or how little you see them. I'm able to keep up with friends that I went to elementary school with. I'll see that Instagram post knowing that Anna finally got to reach her dream job that she had always talked about in elementary school. I'll see that my friend, Madison, is back in town after moving away to Japan for a couple years. Instagram lets me share my exciting moments with others and be a part of the the big moments for those that I care about.

It helps me meet new people. 

Meet new people? Online? My mother would never approve! While online scamming is a real thing, there are also all kinds of genuine people out there that are just waiting to be your future friends. Whether it's connecting with an online friend on the other side of the world that has similar interests or connecting with a friend of a friend, Instagram can help you be social with new people.

There are also a lot of times that I create a mutual acquaintance with someone online before I actually start talking to them in person. There are often people that I know of, maybe we go to the same school, and by following them on social media, we can vaguely get to know each other, so when we meet in person, I already know a little about them and they already know a little about me, which skips the awkward intros (and I'm totally for that).

It inspires me to change my life. 

Bored with your life? Check out someone else's! While looking at someone else's life can encourage envy and jealousy as well as the fear of missing out, looking at pictures that other people have posted can often encourage me to get off my butt and get going. I love living vicariously through others, but eventually there comes a time when I realize that I should stop living through others and start making my life as amazing (or dare I say more amazing?) than theirs.

CAN WE EVER FIND A HAPPY MEDIUM?

I'd like to think so. Since I'm a total hypocrite and I never follow my own advice about moving away from social media in order to avoid the negative consequences of it, I still don't really know how to have it all. I like to believe that we can, like all things in life, it requires balance. Too much can be unhealthy, but too little can make you feel another type of the fear of missing out, the fear of not being in the loop. I'm going to strive to figure out in my own life first and if I figure it out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, what are your thoughts about finding a middle ground? 

What do you think? What's the perfect balance to Instagram usage?

While there are literal essentials for back to school, meaning whatever supplies you need to succeed in school, which are your #1 priority for back to school: books, pencils, etc., but there's also every day "let's use them at school" essentials. Last year, I talked about the 8 things that you probably didn't realize you needed for back to school, but this year I'm talking about the things that you should always have in your backpack for school, because hey, you never know what you might need to be prepared.


Sad to say it, but the new school year is fast approaching. Because of that, it's already time to start thinking about prepping for a new school year, starting with school supplies. In partnership with Her Campus and High Sierra, I received the High Sierra Access backpack* and honestly, it's just what I needed. My last backpack's straps were getting stretched out, undoubtedly from all the heavy textbooks I had been lugging around. 

While some people opt for pretty backpacks, I opted for a useful backpack. I'm looking for that heavy padding on the back, tons of pockets, basically a backpack that will carry literally everything and anything, because let's be real, I like to be prepared. And since I like being prepared, those small, trendy backpacks just won't cut it in terms of everyday school usefulness. 

Luckily, this High Sierra backpack is super spacious and still a bit more exciting than the typical, boring black backpack. If you happen to have a tiny backpack, you can still be prepared with some tiny essentials instead of a giant bag of "just in case" things like me, which is why this post is centered around the small things that you could always need at any time, besides the basic school supplies. 

This post is sponsored in partnership with High Sierra and Her Campus Media, but all words and opinions are my own.



one. extra paper.

You never know when you might need to jot down some notes, some ideas, or whatever. Yeah, we have technology, a great way to take notes, but there's just something more useful in writing it down, having some tactile effort, but also it allows you to sketch things out for visual understanding. By having some extra paper on hand, you can always have something to take notes on.

two. emergency money.

You never know when you might need a little extra cash. Maybe if you're starving and you didn't bring any food with you, you can grab that emergency money to go get a snack. It's always great to be prepared with a tiny bit of cash on hand, but don't go overboard, I'd say $20 max, but I would recommend carrying about $10 on hand.


three. tissues.

You know what's gross and totally annoying? Having a runny nose and NO tissues. I like to carry around those small travel sized tissue packs in my bag all the time, because you never know when you might randomly be hit with a runny nose.

four. lip balm. 

Dry lips are the worst. There are some days when I forget to bring any lip balm and I have to suffer with sad, dry lips all day until I finally get home and let me tell you, it's crazy uncomfortable. To solve that problem, it's great to always have some lip balm in your bag.

five. spare pencils and/or pens.

Like with the paper, you never know when you might need to jot something down. Whether it's taking notes or filling out a form, I always have spare pencils and pens in my purse, which makes it even more essential for my backpack, since school is definitely more note-heavy than every day life. If you already have a pencil case or whatever full of writing utensils, I would still advise carrying a few spares every day in your backpack, just in case you forget it or lose some pencils (I know I do).

six. period products.

Seriously, this is probably the most necessary thing to carry on a daily basis but I'm the worst at remembering to pack these. Always pack a ton of period products at the beginning of the school year into your backpack, because I guarantee, you will quickly run out and forget to restock.


Layered s'mores cake topped with piped succulents

Layered s'mores cake topped with piped succulents

Layered s'mores cake topped with piped succulents


If you've seen my salted caramel chocolate cake, you'd know that I love being able to customize my cakes, so I've combined many recipes and adapted them to my taste. The inspiration/base recipe for the cake is adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com's for a naked s'mores layer cake to create this cake. Like the Momofuku milk bar cakes, this recipe has a cake soak and an intricate mix of textures in the layering, with a rich chocolate fudge sauce, marshmallow frosting, and graham cracker crumbles.

However, since I didn't want to have to buy the acetate strips for making a clean naked layer cake and I wanted an excuse to decorate a cake, I turned the naked layer cake into a s'mores layer cake decorated with chocolate frosting and royal icing succulents. To simplify the original s'mores layer cake recipe, I substituted the cake recipe for a simpler one from food.com. The whipped chocolate buttercream that the cake is covered in is from Chef in Training.

INGREDIENTS

Fudge sauce:

2 ounces of finely chopped dark chocolate
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup heavy cream

Chocolate cake: 

Devil's food cake cake mix (any brand will do)
4 oz box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
½ cup water
½ cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs

Graham cracker crumbs:

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup milk powder (dry milk)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup heavy cream

Toasted marshmallow frosting:

16 large marshmallows
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅔ cups marshmallow fluff

Cake soak:

¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped chocolate buttercream:

1 cup butter, softened
4 ½ cups of confectioner's sugar
5 tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbs heavy cream
¼ tsp salt


PROCEDURE

Make the fudge sauce.

  1. Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the corn syrup, sugar, and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring. 
  3. Once the liquid mixture has come to a boil, pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients (with the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt), and allow it to sit for a minute, or enough for the chocolate to melt.
  4. Whisk the mixture until it is smooth and thick. This will probably take about 5 minutes. 

Make the chocolate cake.

  1. Preheat the oven to the given temperature based on the boxed cake mix. Mine was 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease your sheet pan. (the one that I used was 17x12, not actually meant for cake, but I used it anyways and it worked out fine)
  3. Add the all the ingredients: the cake mix: pudding mix, sour cream, water, vegetable oil, and eggs, into a bowl.
  4. Using a stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer with a wire whip attachment, blend on low speed for about a minute.
  5. Stop and scrape down the edges of the bowl.
  6. On medium speed, mix for about 2-3 more minutes.
  7. Pour batter into pan and spread out smoothly.
  8. Bake until you can place a toothpick through the cake and have it come out clean. Mine only took about 12 minutes, since my pan was so thin.
  9. Allow cakes to cool for about 15-20 minutes
  10. Run a knife around the cake and remove from pan by flipping over.
  11. Cut two 7-inch cake rounds from the rectangular sheet of cake. and then use the remaining scraps of cake to cut out 2 half cake rounds to make a full one, leaving you with 3 layers.

Make the graham cracker crumbs.


  1. Stir together all the dry ingredients -- the graham cracker crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt -- in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter and heavy cream until it becomes thick, then pour over the dry ingredients in the medium bowl.
  3. Using a fork, mix around the wet and dry ingredients until it forms graham cracker clusters. 

Make the marshmallow frosting.


  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Place the marshmallows out on the pan.
  2. Put the pan of marshmallows onto the lowest rack of the oven, and broil them until golden brown on top. Once the oven was heated, it only took my marshmallows about 2 minutes per side to brown for me, so keep an eye on them.
  3. Beat the butter and powdered sugar on low speed until well blended. Add the vanilla extract and then increase the speed to medium-high, mix until smooth.
  4. Add the marshmallow fluff and toasted marshmallows, mixing on low speed until smooth and well blended. 

Make the cake soak.


  1. Whisk together the vanilla extract and milk in a small bowl. 

Assemble the cake.


  1. Layer 1, the bottom: Place one of the full cake rounds onto a cake board.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake soak onto the cake round.
  3. Spread ¼ of the marshmallow frosting onto the cake.
  4. Spread half of the fudge sauce on top of the marshmallow frosting.
  5. Sprinkle ½ of the graham cracker crumble (probably less than ½, just until covered) onto the cake. 
  6. Add another layer of marshmallow frosting, ¼ of the total mixture.
  7. Layer 2, the middle: Place the cake round made of 2 halves to make the second layer of cake on top.
  8. Repeat steps 2-6.
  9. Layer 3: the top: Place the nicest looking cake round on top and put on the rest of the cake soak. 

Make the whipped chocolate buttercream.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients: the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cream or milk, and salt, with an electric mixer or stand mixer with a wire whip attachment. Beat for roughly 5-7 minutes or until it becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Feel free to add more powdered sugar or more cream/milk, depending on the thickness that you desire of your buttercream. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker buttercream and add more cream/milk for a thinner buttercream.
  3. You may also add more cocoa powder, if you favor a richer and more bitter chocolate taste.
  4. Frost the entire cake with the whipped chocolate buttercream.
You can decorate your cake however you want, but I love decorating cakes, so I got fancy and went for some royal icing succulents. They can also be made with buttercream, but I prefer using royal icing. In addition, I crushed up more graham crackers to make for the sand, which perfectly ties in with the succulent theme and with the s'mores theme. Here are instructions for piping succulents, but I didn't really stick to any tutorial and just kind of improvised. 

If you make this cake, let me know, but otherwise you can just enjoy the pictures and dream about eating your own s'mores cake. 
Here's what we need to learn from the viral summer bucket list going around online.


If you haven't been on Twitter, you've been missing out on the latest viral sensation: a summer bucket list found in the dressing room of Urban Outfitters, presumably by a teen. While everyone is calling out the tasks for having a strange variety — from "hooking up with Jacob (again)" to "petting a giraffe" to "buying 7 bikinis," because 6 just won't do — I'm looking at the bucket list in a very different way.

While it's made a laugh for some people, I believe that there's more to this list than pure entertainment. There's a takeaway that we should note.

For all of those that haven't seen the bucket list yet or just needed a refresher, here's the viral tweet and the list in alternating pen colors (Like seriously, this must have been pretty annoying and time consuming).



Everyone is wondering who the author of famous bucket list is and how old she is, calling it out for being a little bit odd and totally reminiscent of teenage years, but you know what?

I applaud whoever made this.

Why is that?

This is a person that knows what she wants. There are some things on that list of things that she has always dreamed of doing. She wants to pet a giraffe and she plans to make that happen this summer and I think that's pretty cool. While all of the things that she wants to do might not be what I would want, they're still things that she wants to experience and now she's getting them done.

This girl owns her ambitious goals. We can laugh all we want, but don't we all have those crazy ambitious dreams that we would never admit out loud? In one summer, she plans to "get crossfaded 17 times", have a "giant water balloon fight", and "stargaze". Honestly, the first one is ambitious enough, like really, 17 times? But you know what? She owns the fact that she wants to get crossfaded exactly 17 times.

While we're sitting around laughing over this girl's summer bucket list, joke's on us, because she's out there trying to make her summer memorable and to turn her goals into reality. No matter how outrageous they might be, she's taking her summer into her own hands and experiencing more in life.

You go summer bucket list girl.

So what's the takeaway?

While you might not have the same goals as this mystery person, the viral summer bucket list reminds us that it's never too late to make things happen. We can always talk about all the things that we want to do, maybe decorate your room or camp in a backyard, (maybe not buying 7 bikinis because that's probably not what I need most in life), but all the talk is worthless unless you actually go out and turn your goals into reality.

We can always talk about all the things that we want to do, but all the talk is worthless unless you actually go out and turn your goals into reality.

I'm not saying that you should follow her goals to go to "randyland", wherever that is, or "get a boob hickey", (if you want to do those, then by all means, go for it) but you can pave your own goals. We need to take some of that ambition to live more and do more with our lives. While you don't need to make a summer bucket list, you can still go out and go after some dreams that maybe you've been thinking about, as stupid or as crazy as they might sound.

Make a list, if that's what you like doing, of everything that you want to accomplish. Short term, long term goals, whatever, no matter how strange they might seem. If lists aren't for you, then that's great too, maybe just think about everything that you want to experience. Then, all you have to do, is go out and make things happen. Own what you want, even if it's ambitious, and make it reality. 

The summer bucket list may be a laugh in the moment, but let's not pretend that we don't also crave to go out and experience a few things that we have always wanted to check off our bucket lists. Summer's not over yet and there's still time to make your goals happen.