People make a big deal out of first impressions making a big impact. With the rise of online dating and the role of social media in our relationships, the way that you describe yourself and present yourself can make a huge difference on whether or not people swipe right or left on you, whether it's in a romantic capacity or platonic manner.

The other day, I was talking to a potential new friend, Erin*. I had just met her and I was in the stage when I was trying to assess whether or not we would get along. We haven't met in person yet, so all our interactions were online. I noticed that as we were chatting, we did a lot of the typical "dating profile" type things. We mentioned our hobbies, our favorite television shows, our favorite musical artists. We were stating a lot of facts, throwing them out there to see if one would strike conversation over some commonality.

And I guess that it makes sense. You see if you like someone based off of common interests. Online, I connect with a lot of people with a shared interest in blogging. It's a great way to get a conversation going and eventually a friendship.

However, it got me thinking. While we were stating all those facts, I remember thinking that the fact that she likes Shawn Mendes' music wasn't going to make or break whether I was friends with her or not. If she liked a television show that I didn't like, that wouldn't necessarily mean that we wouldn't get along.

It occurred to me that the people that we describe ourselves to be in the "dating profile" or fun fact style probably won't make or break situations of whether or not two people will get along. 

About a week ago, I stumbled upon clips from the British television show, Love Island. I don't actually watch the show because I am American and thus cannot watch it, but I found the few clips that I saw to be quite entertaining because they were full of drama. One statement that stood out to me was that a lot of people were saying things like "Laura's 100% my type on paper." It seemed like a way to justify going after someone, but to me I felt like that didn't really guarantee that they would actually get along because it seemed that a lot of them didn't really hit it off that well despite being each other's types.

Whether it's friendships or romantic relationships, I started getting curious regarding whether getting along on paper will really result in a strong relationship. 

So on paper, am I even compatible with my friends? 

One of my friends, Alexa*, is probably not that much like me. Her fashion taste is edgier than mine, consisting of crop tops, boots, fishnet tights, and lipsticks, while I opt for peter pan collars, stripes, and embroidered clothing. She likes cartoons and YouTube gaming videos. I like baking videos and drama-filled television. She likes different music than I do. She eats healthy and tries all the foods while I eat less healthy and am more selective with what I eat. She has lots of gorgeous plants while I killed the air plants that she gave me for my birthday. While our appearances in terms of our style may not match and some of the fun facts that we state about ourselves might not align, we somehow still get along. 

Granted, there are some similarities in the things we like as well. We both like calligraphy and we both have an appreciation for musical theatre. However, in terms of the factual "on paper" ways to describe ourselves, it doesn't look like we're really checking a lot of boxes. 

But when I think about it, we have a similar sense of humor. We're both nerdy and we like to have long intellectual conversations about the strangest things.

Something about our personalities, although I feel like I can't really translate it into words, just works.

On the other hand, I have another friend that I've known since we were in preschool, Olivia*. Olivia and I are slightly more similar on paper than Alexa and I would be. Olivia and I both play (we did at the time, I guess now it's played in past tense) the piano. We have more similar sense of style. We both liked drawing, but just as a hobby, nothing crazy serious. We work on paper and in real life. 

I guess that what I'm getting at is that there are some friendships that can be full of factual similarities and other friendships that can be full of factual differences, but both can work. 

However, if I had solely judged them based off of who they are on paper, perhaps I would have become friends with Olivia, but maybe I wouldn't have become friends with Alexa. Imagine if it was like on Tinder. Based off of what was presented before me, perhaps I would have swiped left on Alexa without ever giving her a chance and seeing that somehow we fit in real life even though there are so many differences.

Related: Why You Should Spend Time With People Outside Your Social Circle

So beyond the factual things that make up who we are on paper, I think that often we use the people that we are on paper in social media. We present forward who we think we are and how we want people to see us. It's kind of like when people ask you for fun facts about yourself in those awkward icebreakers, you're not going to say the boring stuff, you're going to say the kind of things that you think people will be interested in and will present you in the best light.

Erin and I added each other on social media and I scrolled through her Instagram, trying to figure out the kind of person that she is and whether or not she might become a friend. Her Instagram wasn't much like mine, but the style of photos and captions did remind me of the Instagram of a close friend that I already have, Tanya*. So would that mean that we would get along? I guess that I don't really know. Maybe, but also maybe not. I won't know until I meet her in real life and see how her personality truly is.

People mention not online-stalking someone that you're romantically interested in because you might end up making assumptions about them or building this expectation of the kind of person that they will be before you meet them. And I see that. I can't tell the kind of person that Erin is from her social media or the kind of person she presents herself to be on paper.

Sure, I could make the assumption that because her social media is in a similar style to Tanya's, that would mean that we would be friends. However, I think that the things that make Tanya and I friends aren't the things that are on her social media. It's not her hobbies or fashion sense. It's the way that I feel comfortable talking to her about a lot of things that I don't feel comfortable talking to anyone else about. I don't know why I feel that way, I just do. Like my friendship with Alexa, I can't always translate that into words.

To me, I think that relationships (any kind of relationship) is more than just the first impressions, the facts, and the facades. A lot of it plays into personality, the dynamic of the relationship, and the connection that you feel that you might not exactly be able to describe.

Don't close yourself off to potential friendships, romantic relationships, and general relationships because at first glance you don't see an instant click. I feel like now we are becoming more superficial than ever in our relationships and it's time to stop letting first impressions drive your overall opinion of people.

Give it time and take the time to get to know people and see past what's on paper. 

I am beginning to make an active effort to stop trying to let a first impression dictate how I view someone. I am trying to avoid looking up people on social media in order to stop that from shaping my assumptions regarding who they are and I am trying to see people for who they truly are, not on paper, not on a dating profile, and not from who they are on social media. I wouldn't want someone to judge me based off of just one quick encounter, so why should I do the same?

At the end of the day, all I'm looking for is connections and meaningful relationships with people. And I hope that I can find that by being more open-minded and looking beneath the surface.

*names changed for privacy

I Followed Marie Kondo's KonMari Method to Clean My Closet and This is What Happened

My room is a mess. People always meet me and think that I'm super organized. They see that my things for school are well planned and tidy. They see that I'm on time for things. They see that I use a calendar. However, one thing in my life that is a complete mess and I think will always be one will be the cleanliness of my room.

In November, I published a blog post called I Tried Spending 5 Minutes Every Night to Tidy Up for a Week based off of Gretchen Rubin's advice. In fact, it even got shared by Gretchen Rubin herself. In that post, there is a very realistic and true before photo of my room. From the post, I saw some comments: "What a disaster of a room." and "I'd never let it get to point A in the first place!" And yeah, my room is a mess. I can attest to that. This is why I'm going to try and change that by tidying up.

I am in no way the kind of person that can maintain a clean room. 

I know some friends that say that they can't even study unless their room is clean, which is something so foreign to me. What is more foreign is the way that Marie Kondo describes her interest in tidying up. For me, I just don't have the same interest as her and it is something that I cannot fully understand, which is clearly represented by the mess that my room has.

However, I need to go one step at a time and cannot expect myself to transform into a tidying queen like Marie Kondo overnight, which is why I'm starting with my closet. Baby steps right?

I think that the main reason that I do not get rid of things is because I a) think that I might need them in the future, b) feel bad getting rid of them because I spent money purchasing these things that are still in very good condition and c) want to do more with my things than just throwing them out.

getting started

Getting started was where I immediately was unwilling to cooperate with Marie Kondo's methods. One of the things that she mentioned was to "place every item of clothing in the house on the floor." My sister had done the KonMari method a couple of months ago and I witnessed the mess that she made when she dumped her entire wardrobe on the floor. It was then and there that I realized that I probably have a ton of clothes. I actually said, "Whoa, you have a lot of clothes. Does this mean that I have this many clothes?"

With the carnage of her tidying in mind, I decided that I would opt out of dumping all of my clothes on the floor and instead I would simply adhere to the discarding process, but instead of taking everything out at once, I would just go section by section.

However, I didn't completely deviate from the KonMari method, I used her famous "does it spark joy?" selection criterion for deciding whether or not to get rid of or keep a piece.

Similar: I Wore the Clothes I Own But Rarely Wear For a Week

So I went through all of my clothes based off of the clothing type. I went through tee shirts, sorted them, and discarded all of the ones that didn't spark joy anymore. Then I went through sweaters. And pants, and dresses, and so on until I had sorted through my entire closet. I did the same with the general clutter in my closet. I had a lot of old jewelry and clothes that had fallen off the hangers that were just taking up room in my closet and making it look really cluttered.

While I was hesitant to get rid of a lot of my clothes, the "spark joy" method was actually a really great way of looking at things. 

It was a good reminder that items can be temporary and once they have served their purpose (sparking joy at the moment), there is no harm in saying farewell to them. It helped me get rid of so many clothes, like so many (a giant garbage bag + more worth of clothing).

hanging clothes

My closet is pretty long, which means that there's lots of space for hanging clothes. This means that the majority of my wardrobe is hanging.

One of the things that really tripped me up was the idea to "arrange your clothes so that they rise to the right" with "heavy items on the left side of the closet and light items on the right". I was a little confused by this. In the book it mentions something about it making you feel calmer. However, I am not the kind of person that likes change. The order of the clothes in my closet have been carefully crafted and adhered to for the past few years, so when I changed up the order, it really threw me for a loop.

Everything just felt wrong, out of place. 

Maybe I was simply unwilling to accept change, but looking at my closet, it really didn't make me feel any happier or calmer. It just felt odd. I sat there, thinking about how if I kept ignoring what the Konmari method said, was I really following it? A specific quote from the beginning of the book kept ringing out: "Don't change the method to suit your personality."

And it made me wonder. In order to be tidy and happy and experience the "life-changing magic of tidying up" would have to follow the book to a T? 

I couldn't help but feeling like I was looking at this book like a bible, like it was simply commands that I needed to mindlessly follow in order to achieve a promise of a happy and tidy life. And I didn't want to feel like I was just doing things because the book told me to. So I made the executive decision to return the order of my clothes to the way that they originally were. The second that everything returned to normal, I felt at ease. This was the way that things were meant to be, at least that's the way that I felt. And who am I to deny my own feelings?

folding clothes

So after my hanging clothes had been sorted through, organized and eventually reorganized (or un-organized?), I needed to get to the rest of my clothes, which were all of the clothes in the drawers.

the vertical position folding method
The main thing that the Konmari method says about folding clothes is that a) it's preferable to hanging up clothes, b) you shouldn't pile or stack things on top of each other, but rather put everything in a vertical position so your clothes are standing up instead of sitting on top of each other.

The idea of putting everything in a vertical position sounded like a really good idea to me. Whenever I go in my drawers, everything always comes unfolded whenever I dig down to the bottom to get something. I could already see it, having my clothes vertical would mean no more digging to the bottom.

When I started folding my clothes and putting them in the vertical position, I was shocked to how much space I actually cleared. In fact, I managed to fit what used to be 4 drawers of clothing into slightly over 2 drawers. I think that it was partially because I had discarded a lot of my clothes, but I also think that the vertical method allowed me to pack more clothes into one drawer. The clothes were folded more tightly because they weren't coming undone whenever I reached in and they could really get nice and snug.

My drawers were looking neater than ever and when I went to grab a shirt, I didn't mess up the entire drawer in the process. It definitely felt like a victory. 

On top of that, since I had so much extra room in my drawers, I managed to put some containers holding jewelry and nail polish into my drawers. They had previously been on top of my drawers, but since I had the room, I could use it to store other things besides my clothes. It was a double win.

On the other hand, once I got to the underwear drawer, I was starting to feel a little skeptical. The KonMari method suggests that you don't ball up your socks, but rather fold them exactly the same way that you would fold clothing: fold it normally and then put it in vertical storage. And that confused me. I was thinking that if I didn't ball up my socks, wouldn't they separate and I would end up losing a lot of my socks?

I was very skeptical and almost 90% sure that I wouldn't like that method, but I decided to give it a try anyway. 

However, when I started getting a few pairs of socks into the drawer, I realized that it actually worked. 

the sock drawer with the KonMari folding method
With the vertical storage, the clothes were packed so tightly that the socks stayed in pairs perfectly. In addition, unlike stacking clothing, I wouldn't disrupt any of the socks to the point that they would lose their partner. I guess that if you don't have to dig through your drawers, the socks won't get pushed around to the point that they would separate from their match.

Moreover, just like with the clothing, the folding method shrunk down the amount of room that the socks took up. At first, my socks were just lying around taking up the majority of the drawer, but after folding them, they took up less than two-thirds of the drawer. It really helped me to save room, which I found to be absolutely amazing.

the takeaway

I Followed Marie Kondo's KonMari Method to Clean My Closet and This is What Happened

I did see a difference between the before and after. Before, my clothes were folded so poorly that they kept coming undone, which took up more space and consequently made it difficult to open and close drawers because they were overflowing. I managed to clear most of the clutter effectively using the "spark joy" method and made room for things that mattered more to me.

My favorite thing about the Konmari method is absolutely the folding method. I was blown away by how well-organized, functional, and compact the vertical folding method was. It made me rethink what I had been doing before. Every time I go to pull something out of the drawer, it blows my mind again that the drawer can still be perfectly tidy even after I've removed something.

I am still feeling a little skeptical over having to adhere to the KonMari method to a T. I think that there are some things in this book that I just don't like doing, whereas there are also some points that are very valid and worth giving a try, like the folding method. I guess that my takeaway is that there's no harm in trying them out and if you don't like them, no harm either.

bonus video!

Want to see the visual results and changes more in depth? I made an IGTV video that accompanies this post that goes into depth of the actual tidying process.

Click here for the bonus video. 
I'd like to interrupt your usual scheduling of Bloomly posts with something a little different - an outfit post! I usually don't do outfit posts, but I took these photos while I was in Lisbon and I LOVE them and I want to share them, is that too much of a crime? 

Looking at these photos, I was thinking, what do people do with all those cute photos that they take of themselves if they're not a blogger? I don't really post that often on my personal Instagram because I feel like it's obnoxious to post so many photos, especially my travel ones, because I feel like people only follow me because they know me in real life, not because they genuinely like my photos. 

I think that a really interesting thing about blogging is that people look at your content because they're genuinely interested in it. I do a lot of posts on the Bloomly on things meant to help you, posts that are applicable to your life. However, I want to also be able to include posts about me and things that go on in my life, and that's what this post is. I'm excited about these photos and I want to share them. I'm no fashion blogger, but it doesn't mean that I shouldn't get to share outfits and looks that I love. So if you're interested, go ahead and read. And if you're not, that's okay too. 

So these photos were all taken while I was exploring Lisbon, Portugal with my sister, which is the main reason why I like these photos so much, not only did I have a cute outfit, but I had the gorgeous backdrop of the city of Lisbon. 

We were looking for some pink walls to take photos in front of. We ended up finding so many viable options (so Instagrammable!) and this wall above ended up being the best one. There were two Instagram goals: get a photo in front of some famous Portuguese tiles and a photo in front of a pink wall and they were both easily completed!

Some context behind the photo above, it's a bit of a cheat, it was taken on a different day from all the other photos, in fact it was taken in an entirely different country! I took the photo above while in Seville, Spain, and I included it because it's another photo that I wanted to share with you all, (I mean seriously, the flowers and the tile bench are so cute!).

I'm wearing the exact same outfit because yes, I am an outfit repeater. (cue "Lizzie Mcguire, you are an outfit repeater!") But guess what? Outfit repeating paid off because I got another cute photo in this outfit :)

So a little bit about what I'm wearing, I'm wearing this white off the shoulder top and these striped paper bag style pants. I love off the shoulder tops, but they are actually kind of uncomfortable. However, I think that the way that it makes me feel when I wear this kind of top is worth a little discomfort. I feel so good and confident when I wear this top and it just put me in a generally good mood. I paired this top with a choker, just to kind of fill up all that neck space. 

On top of that, I love these pants because they're comfortable and make me feel super stylish. They're high waisted, which is my favorite kind of pants, and they're really lightweight and good for the warmer weather. They're kind of like stylish summer sweatpants. 

The rest of the outfit is pretty conventional and less about fashion and more about function. The shoes are comfortable, they're comfort sandals. There's a little more about the comfort and the style of these shoes in my style spotlight post on comfort sandals. They were good for walking around and also good for the warmer weather. The watch can be fashion and function, on the trip it really served as function. I was trying to limit my phone usage while out to save battery (while we were in Lisbon we had a scare where we needed to catch the train early in the morning for a day trip to Sintra and our phones didn't charge overnight!) so I found myself relying more and more on my watch to check the time rather than my phone. 

The photo above is actually another cheat! While it was taken in Lisbon, it was actually taken in front of a food truck rather than real Portuguese tiles. I got some weird looks and I posed in front of the side of a food truck, but it paid off because the photo actually turned out pretty great. 

What I'm Wearing

Top: Forever 21 // Pants: Forever 21 // Choker: Forever 21
Watch: Daniel Wellington // Shoes: DSW, Kork Ease Brand (Similar)

You know how in the rom com movies the girl gets a makeover and they just take off her glasses and she becomes gorgeous? Yeah, I'm talking about She's All That, The Princess Diaries, and other "girl removes glasses and is suddenly beautiful" movies. Somehow there's this stigma against glasses, the idea that glasses makes someone to be unattractive. So when I was getting contacts, I was ready for my "girl takes off glasses, shakes hair, and is suddenly gorgeous" moment. Unsurprisingly, that didn't happen to me.

I want to preface this by saying that I have worn glasses practically my whole life. I got my first pair of glasses in kindergarten (unfortunately) and I remember feeling uncomfortable in them the first time I wore them. But I also remember my childhood friend (who I still keep in touch with today) telling me that they looked good on me. So I learned to accept wearing them and they grew into normalcy.

When I was about to get contacts, I was excited. I could finally do my makeup without being an inch away from my mirror. I could wear sunglasses. I wouldn't need to deal with the awkward "you look so different without your glasses" whenever I took off my glasses because people would eventually get used to me not wearing them. I wouldn't have to worry about glasses glare in pictures and looking back on old photos and judging my terrible taste in glasses at the time. It was a whole new world.

'The Princess Diaries'

However, the result was a bit of a let down. It had been 20 frustrating minutes of me trying to stab my eye to get them in and the awkward attempted consolations from the people around me every time I didn't get them in. Once I got them in, the first pair of contacts I got were straight up blurry. The eye doctor assured me that when I first put them on, they would be blurry, but they would get clearer the longer I wore them. They didn't. It was difficult to read with them, I didn't feel like I could take exams with them in, and I didn't feel comfortable driving with them because they were so blurry.

Four tries of contacts later and while I got contacts that I could see better in than the first ones, I still can't see well in them. In fact, the ones that I have right now make my eyes dry, make everything feel hazy and like a dream, and while they're good enough to wear in class, I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing them to an important exam. The lack of success with my contacts may be due to my terrible (and yes, I mean terrible) -8 eyesight, but the point is that functionally, I was unimpressed with contacts.

I guess that I was surprised by the outcome. So many people wear contacts and they have never had an issue with them. In fact, my mom even claims that she can see better with her contacts. I guess that I was just disappointed. I was aware that contacts would probably not be as good as my current glasses, but I thought that just meant that they would be like wearing slightly older glasses. I didn't know how dry they would make my eyes and how physically tired my eyes would feel after wearing them.

However, physical appearance-wise, I was hoping for at least a little of a movie "girl takes off glasses and is gorgeous" look. If my contacts were just a little lacking, I could deal with it if it gave me a little boost in confidence.

Similar: Medium - I Gave Myself the 90s Rom-Com Makeover I've Always Wanted

'She's All That'

When I wear contacts, there are some times when I feel beautiful, but other times I feel insecure, like when I wear my contacts I don't feel like myself. I have a tendency to wear a lot more makeup when I wear contacts than when I wear glasses. I feel like my eyes are too small or my face is too empty and I often use the makeup to address those issues.

In terms of confidence, my contacts are a wild card. I do enjoy getting to wear makeup where you can actually see the makeup pretty well when I wear contacts. I like the way that they make me feel not quite like myself because I can imagine that I am the girl that takes off her glasses and is suddenly gorgeous. However, not feeling quite like myself also feels uncomfortable. Sometimes it makes me feel confident but sometimes it just feels wrong.

The thing is that these glasses have slowly become a part of my identity. I've worn them for practically all of my life. 

I guess that while I am used to my glasses and I like them, sometimes I feel like the quiet dorky girl that they show at the beginning of the movie. And I wanted to be the confident, pretty, and liked girl at the end of the movie instead. I guess that it's a combination between the glasses and my personality. I am the shy, insecure, pretty nerd girl.

When I was younger, it made me feel like I wouldn't fit in with all the "cool kids". Not specifically the glasses, but just the overall look. I didn't look like them. I didn't feel like I was nearly as pretty or as confident. However, while a part of me wants to be the pretty girl from the movies without the glasses, the truth is that I feel most like myself with my glasses, which is valuable too.

I always talk about how important that it is to be comfortable in your own skin. With my glasses, I feel like my normal self. I look in the mirror and I see, yeah, that's me. On the other hand, sometimes when I wear contacts and I look in the mirror I'm like, "Is that me?" It sometimes feels like I'm looking at someone else in the mirror. Not only can I see everything in the clearest form and my eyes don't feel like they're itchy and tired, I guess I just feel like my everyday self. And there's nothing wrong with that. I like being comfortable and that's what the glasses do for me.

As I look at myself in the mirror when I'm wearing contacts or glasses, I find that both ways are me and both ways are beautiful. And essentially, they're both me, just different versions of me. 

So sure, there are still some times on occasions where I wear my contacts and I get to feel like my own alter-ego. But I also get to wear my glasses and feel like myself again.

And I'm learning that both of those are okay.

It's summertime, which means that it's a perfect time to get out of the house and get together with some friends in the warm sunshine. If you're looking for some activities to do, (I know I usually am, I frequently find myself Googling "friend date ideas"), I've got you covered. Here are 4 fun summer activities that you can do with your friends.

Terrarium Building Party

Get together with some friends and build terrariums! All you need is to go out and buy some succulents and whatever you want to build your terrarium in, then get your friends together. Get some food as well so that you can eat, chat, a build. This will make for a fun activity in the moment and then at the end everyone gets to walk away with a little terrarium. I think that this would make for a great activity to do at any party. Currently planning a terrarium building party with some friends and I'm very excited!


Yes, a quintessential summer thing, but it's a classic for a reason. Get some friends together and head to a waterpark nearby. You can do something as elaborate as one of those fancy waterpark hotels, or simply a pool that has a slide, whatever best fits your budget and your needs. Waterparks may be popular for kids, but just because you're "grown up" doesn't mean that waterparks can't be fun anymore.

Paint a pot

There are lots of "paint a pot" style shops all around that you can probably find one close to wherever you live. If you don't know what a "paint a pot" style shop is, it's essentially a shop that has lots of blank undecorated ceramic items (ex: mugs, figurines, plant pots, plates, piggy banks, etc.) that you can then paint and make it your own. The shops usually provide all the materials that you need to customize your ceramic item and then will put it in the kiln for you so that you can pick it up and take your creation home.

Outdoor Dinner Party

Break out the string lights to decorate and the lemonade for the dinner! Recently, I helped my sister throw an outdoor dinner party and it was so much fun! We planned out a fancy three course meal (if you're on the Bloomly newsletter, which you should ~totally~ join if you're not already on it, you would know more about this + what was on the menu from a couple weeks ago) and it was really fun to make the food and also see how impressed everyone was by it. The food tasted great and there was just a lot more of a relaxed carefree vibe than if it was at a restaurant.

4 Summer Activities to Do With Friends

A trip to Sintra is one of the most popular day trips out of Lisbon. Sintra has fascinating tourist attractions and historic buildings that make it worth the 45 minute train ride out of Lisbon. I mentioned before in my 24 Hours in Lisbon guide that while I was planning my time in Portugal, all I really wanted was an easy guide to see the must-see attractions in my limited amount of time, so I made one for Sintra as well! (it's also a great way to show off my pictures)

Here's a day trip guide to Sintra from Lisbon with information about how to get to Sintra and what to see while you're there. 

Guide for getting to Sintra

The train

  • To get to Sintra, you should take a train. Not to be confused with the metro, you will be taking a train out of the Oriente Station or Rossio Station. You will need to buy a separate ticket for the train, a metro/bus ticket will not work. There are Sintra trains very often, about every 30 minutes.
  • Budget about 45 minutes for the train ride.
  • Train tip: Purchase your tickets the day before you intend to go to Sintra so that you can buy your round-trip tickets and locate the correct train station. 

From the train to the sights

  • From the train station, you will not be directly in front of the Sintra sights that you've seen in the tour brochures. In order to get to the sights, you will either have to walk, or better, find some other form of transportation, because it is quite a distance to go and it will likely be uphill. 
  • Option 1: Walk
    If you're really up for it, you are free to walk, but I wouldn't recommend it. I took transportation up and down the hill (from the sights to the train station) and it was quite a long drive. Even without having to walk up and down, after visiting the palace/castle, I was already pretty tired. 
  • Option 2: The bus
    The bus is probably the most popular option and I noticed that it was mentioned in pretty much every website that I saw while researching Sintra. It was the mode of transportation that I ultimately took. Buy your bus tickets ahead of time if you can, you can pre-purchase tickets for the bus at the metro station in Lisbon. If you didn't, no worries, you can purchase tickets upon entering the bus. 
    • If you get motion sickness easily, I know I do, then be aware that the bus route is very windy. There are a lot of sharp turns. Additionally, the large numbers of people on the bus probably won't make it that much better. While I didn't feel very sick on the bus (a miracle!) I could have very easily felt motion sickness and I would have taken motion sickness medicine before to be safe if I had known. 
  • Option 3: a tuk tuk or jeep
    When I was in Sintra, I noticed a lot of tourist targeted forms of transportation, like tuk tuks or jeeps. These will likely end up being a little more pricey than a bus, but it might be nice if you want a more fun experience while heading up/down than the bus. The bus tends to be crowded and cramped and the tuk tuk may be better if you prefer to sit (as you are not guaranteed a seat on the bus), don't like the idea of smooshing together in that bus, and would simply like to be a bit more comfortable. 

General tips

  • Bring some kind of heavy snacks. There is not much food available once you're up in the hills. While it may seem like a Disney fairytale at times, there's nowhere near the level of vendors that Disneyland has. I brought an empanada, a granola bar, and a magdalena pastry up as my lunch and did not purchase any food. 
  • Bring lots of water. Again, there is only about one small cafe per attraction, so you want to make sure that you have enough water for when you're out and about.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, especially if you're visiting the Castle of the Moors. 

Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace)

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

The Pena Palace is probably the first picture that you see when you google "Sintra", which is a pretty good indicator of how magnificent it is. As a result, it is also a must-see if you're in Sintra. I love the architecture of the palace because it almost seems like a few completely different buildings morphed together into one, but somehow it works. 

The Pena Palace ticket can be purchased as either a ticket for merely the park grounds or you can purchase a ticket to visit the interior of the palace and the park grounds as a set ticket. Honestly, looking back on it, you probably could buy a ticket to the park grounds and still be very happy. Access to the park grounds allows you to still visit the castle and have access to parts of it, (for example, the photo above and below were taken without using my ticket to enter the palace) you just won't get to see the interior. In my opinion, the interior is nice, but the exterior is nicer.

I do think that it is worth taking a moment to look around the gardens after you finish looking at the famous palace. It is filled with plants from all over the world. It's peaceful, calming, and there's a lot t explore in there. 

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

One thing that I didn't like about the palace was that it can feel a little bit rushed. In some parts, it can be tight, crowded with people, causing you to feel pressured to quickly move with the same pace as other people. However, you can always step aside and let other people pass you to take it at your own pace.

A little history behind the Pena Palace:

Believe it or not, this palace began as a monastery. However, the palace that you see today was given an "extreme home makeover" by King Ferdinand II, who was a Austrian that married into the Portuguese royal family. He wanted to create something that would rival the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, so he commissioned the palace.

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

Castelo Dos Mouros (Moorish Castle)

The Moorish Castle has a great view of the city and has a lot more of a rugged charm compared to the picture perfect Pena Palace. What I think makes it really stunning is how it's on top of a hill, giving it  a great view, and the hill has all of those giant rocks. Seriously, just take a moment to look at the size of those rocks in comparison of the size of the actual castle. They're huge!

The Moorish Castle, however, requires more walking than the Pena Palace and you will have to walk uphill on it. The ground is rocky, so you have to be careful while walking and it's best to wear comfy shoes. There is only a railing on one side of the castle, so it's better to walk on that side for safety. Some people on TripAdvisor greatly exaggerated the dangers of this castle, mentioning how the tourists were pushing them to the point that they were "worried that they would fall to their death" due to having no railing. While you should be careful while walking, don't let those reviews dissuade you from visiting, it is very unlikely that you will fall off the castle walls.

While the Castle's actual look may not be very original, I said that it looked like the Great Wall of China, which my mom also said when I showed her the pictures, the view is great. You can see the Pena Palace, historic centre of Sintra, and the Quinta da Regaleira from the castle. It was really cool too because it was so high up that the fog seemed to be drifting right by. As for the amount of athleticism needed to walk up the castle, it was most definitely within my bounds. The Great Wall of China was a lot more physically demanding than this.

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

A little history behind the Moorish Castle:

The Castle was built by North African Moors during the 9th century to guard the town but was eventually taken during the Christian conquest of Portugal in 1147. It was rebuilt by King Ferdinand I in 1375, but was damaged by the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake. Like the Pena Palace, it was later restored by King Ferdinand II.

A Day Trip Out of Lisbon to Sintra, Portugal

What else is in Sintra?

However, there's so much more in Sintra than just what I saw. While these are the two most famous attractions in Sintra, making them both must-see spots if you only have one day, if you want to make the most of your time in Sintra, there's still more to see. If I had more time, I would have loved to see the Quinta da Regaleira or the Historic Centre.

As seen on my Instagram, I have been traveling for the past few weeks. As a result, my Instagram has been filled with gorgeous images of the places that I've been traveling to. Upon returning home, lots of people were asking me questions about the trip. They were wowing and one person told me that looking at my pictures made her "jealous".

When she said that, I wasn't surprised, considering how many times that I had been the jealous one. When my friend Hannah sends me Snapchats of her in Italy, yeah, I'm a little jealous. When I see on Instagram that a friend is going to Thailand, I'm a little jealous too.

Social media has a tendency to do that. It's the place where we flaunt our best moments, our best looks, and our best lives.

Similar: If You Didn't Post it On Social Media, Did it Really Happen? 

However, as a result of people cultivating the perfect online image, FOMO occurs. If you don't know what FOMO is, it's short for the "fear of missing out". It's essentially what I was describing before: when you see things online and feel jealous, like you might be missing out on something incredible.

But if you need a more specific definition, according to a study quoted by,

FOMO is defined as " …‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.'"

Read more: This is the Best Way to Overcome Fear of Missing Out -

So now that we've established what FOMO is, let's bring it back to what people said about my trip, how my pictures made people jealous. While that's understandable, considering how I was sharing only the most glamorous parts of the trip and the most glamorous parts of my life, what became clear to me on that trip was that FOMO works both ways.

While it's not some big revelation or something that I didn't know before, it was that I never really gave the idea much thought. The thing was that even though it was a fun trip, exciting and fast paced and surreal at moments, I still had those moments with a tiny bit of FOMO, like I wished that I could be at home, relaxing.

And that sounds a little silly, considering how privileged I am to be able to travel and see beautiful places, but the truth is that even though travel is exciting, it can be stressful and tiring as well. I guess that what I'm trying to say was that I was not aware of how much I like my normal mundane life until I felt that fast-paced on the go feeling for 3 weeks straight.

I remember while I was at the Alhambra de Granada, I said to my sister, "Imagine if this was your life, imagine if you saw this view every day" as we were walking through the gorgeous gardens. However, I think that I'm only meant to imagine. Yes, I'm never going to walk through gardens of that amount of beauty probably ever on a daily basis out of practicality because I don't have that kind of money. But I also don't know if I would be happy with it.

I complain about my boring life and feel like it's just not exciting enough. On a day to day basis, I don't go out to eat every day for every meal of the day. I don't wake up at 6am in the morning and then walk for the whole day and go to sleep at midnight. I don't get to see the gorgeous Portuguese beaches whenever I want. I don't walk through a historical palace and see the gardens as my view every day.

However, while I don't have those things, I have a lot of incredible things already in my life. 

I have a good balance (for me at least) between relaxation and that on the go energy in my life. I have the opportunity to explore things that interest me. I have all the things that I need for my day to day life. I have everything that I need and more.

Similar: Do You Need a Lot to Be Happy?

I guess that my vacation was a reminder of what it really was: a vacation. It's something that's temporary, an escape that feels like living an alternative life, but ultimately you return to reality. And while vacations are fun, there's also no place like home. Seriously, after a vacation, the best feeling is to come home and sleep in your own bed for the night.

So enough about my vacation and let's talk more about what that means in regards to FOMO, which is what this post is really about. What this whole story says is that FOMO is natural.

Even when you're living in this extravagant lifestyle, FOMO will still exist because you will always be searching for what you do not have. 

In economics, there is the idea of opportunity cost. According to Investopedia, "Opportunity cost represents the benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another." It is essentially the next best option. While one option, which in this case is relaxing at home, sounds tempting, I chose to give it up in order to pursue what I deem the best option, which is to travel.

I think that FOMO is simply someone that is thinking too much about the opportunity cost and less about the best option, which is the one that they have chosen to pursue. 

Focusing too much on the opportunity cost is very much a "the grass is greener on the other side" mentality. You are looking at everything that you don't have to the point that you forget what you already have.

Whenever you feel like you're suffering from FOMO, remind yourself that you are already living the best option for yourself. You have so much good in your life. And if you look around you, you might realize that you may already be living the best life for you.

And if you're not, there's no harm in wanting to improve it either. Just remember why you're doing it: is it because you are just vying for what you don't have, the next best option? Or is it because you're aiming for the absolute best option, the one that you would forgo the opportunity cost for? Just don't forget to put things in perspective.

Why You Shouldn't Take FOMO So Seriously

I recently got a chance to travel to Spain for about 2 weeks and it was so exciting. There were so many beautiful things to see and so many delicious things to eat. I was trying to figure out how to share the details about my trip for you all and I decided that I would share my thoughts about what I saw by giving you the highlights: my favorite attractions. 

For context, here is a list of the cities in Spain that I visited: Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Cordoba, and Seville. There are so many incredible attractions in Spain that I did not get a chance to visit, these are simply the attractions that I enjoyed most in these cities. 

no. 1 | La Alhambra (Granada)

There is no doubt about it, La Alhambra de Granada was my favorite attraction that I saw in Spain. While the outside may be simple, the inside is absolutely stunning. I was aware of how gorgeous it was before even stepping foot in, since I had done a mini project about the building for a class in school, but being in it was even more stunning. The place did not have a bad angle, everywhere you turned there was another beautiful spot. 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

For me, I found the mix between the different types of architecture to be fascinating. If you didn't know, Alhambra has been through a lot. Alhambra was originally built by the Moorish monarches of Granada during the invasion of the Iberian peninsula by the Muslims. Alhambra's barchitecture follows a hybrid style called mudéjar, which is a combination of Islamic art and a Gothic style. The Christians were amazed by the palace when they arrived, which I also was, but for them it was incredible because it was so different than the fortresses that Christian monarchs had. Back then, the place was full of vibrant colors and textiles that likely made the place even more extravagant. 

Even without visiting the gorgeous palace, the gardens (Generalife) are absolutely incredible. I may have known about the beauty of the palace, but the gardens surprised me. With big fluffy roses, lush trees and shrubs, and fountains, the gardens possess the same photogenic properties as the palace. 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

no. 2 | La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona)

La Sagrada Familia was overwhelming in the sense that there was so much to see, both on the exterior and interior. I generally am not very excited about viewing churches and cathedrals as tourist attractions, but Sagrada Familia was like something else. There was so much detail everywhere you looked. The exterior told stories and everywhere you looked there was another one, while the interior was made to look like you're under the treetops, with light streaming in between the tree leaves. 

A little context behind this cathedral, Gaudi began working on it in 1882, but died before he could finish it. Since he knew that he wouldn't have much time left in his life, he left detailed instructions and information so that it could be finished in his vision after his death. La Sagrada Familia is still not complete and is set to be finished in 2026, which is the centenary of Gaudi's death. 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

The most incredible and unique thing in my opinion would be the light in the building. There's so much natural light and the stained glass is incredible in the sense that it projects rainbows of light into the cathedral. This picture below really captures what I mean by this, with the light streaming in to create such vibrant colors of light, but there is so much more of this in the cathedral that the pictures just cannot capture. 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

no. 3 | Casa Milà, aka La Pedrera (Barcelona)

For me, while I felt like the building itself was interesting, I think that I found the attraction to be so enjoyable due to the valuable information within the building (models, information signs, etc.) and the audio tour of the place because it allowed me to find a new appreciation for Gaudi's architecture, see trends with some of his other buildings, and understand how the building came to life. For example, without the audio guide I wouldn't have known about the unique ventilation that works with the natural environment and I wouldn't have known about where those wacky Dr. Seuss-like doorknobs were formed.

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

no. 4 | Real Alcazar (Seville)

The Real Alcazar in Seville has a lot of architectural similarities to Alhambra in Granada. I think that if I had seen the Real Alcazar first, I would have been awestruck. The place was undoubtedly beautiful and I enjoyed myself there, but I wasn't as wowed because I had already seen Alhambra, which in my opinion was more grand than the Real Alcazar. Nevertheless, it is still worth a visit to the Real Alcazar. There are some beautiful gardens and these arches are less like the circular Alhambra arches and more of a different type, almost like scallops or flowers (I'm not sure what to call that shape). 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

no. 5 | Park Guell (Barcelona)

Park Guell looked like some kind of made up world or something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Iti's so colorful and vibrant and I loved seeing all the tiles. It's very unique and feels a lot more special than a typical park. 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

Honorable Mentions:

Parque del Buen Retiro (Madrid) 

I was recommended the Parque del Buen Retiro by Caitlyn and I'm glad that I went. It was really nice and serene, especially in contrast with all of the fast paced sightseeing of the trip. There was a lot of life there and the park is so large that you can find a place with bustling excitement or you can find a quiet grassy location to read a book. 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

Plaza de España (Seville)

I really liked the Plaza de España because of the tiles and the murals constructed out of tile representing various Spanish cities. There are some really nice tiles for decoration throughout the plaza: on the buildings, hand rails, and the bridge. The place felt very grand, which is probably why it was one of the filming locations for Star Wars. 

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain

My Top 5 Favorite Attractions in Spain