Saturday, December 3, 2016

Is Anyone There?

Sometimes, especially as a teen, it feels like it's you against the world. It's like you're going through your own struggles blind and when you call out for help, there's no one there. Sometimes we just see through our tunnel vision of negativity, we feel as though no matter what we do, there's no one there when you call. There are times where it seems like I'm alone in the world. I call out, "Is anyone there?" and it's like no one answers. No one sees me, no one helps me, no one is with me. But is that really true?

As a part of the Peter Pan Diaries series, if you haven't been updated, here's a brief summary about what the mini-series is about:
The Peter Pan diaries is a mini-series covering the various struggles, ups and downs, and giving guidance on the teen years. The Peter Pan series is for the people out there that are growing up, mostly aimed at the young adult years, but how they might not necessarily be ready to grow up yet, almost like Peter Pan. They're meant to help make the transition a little bit easier and also allow me to give my personal experiences and my perspectives on some struggles and controversial topics regarding teen life and being a young adult. 

I think that we often plunge ourselves into this sea of negativity. We don't bother looking at the bright side because we're so focused by all of the bad in our lives. And sometimes, we need a little help in order to get out of that sea of negativity, a lifesaver, if you will. But the thing that we're never able to do is to admit that we need one. Maybe you look over at the person next to you, easily swimming through life, and feel bad for needing a helping hand, a lifesaver. It's not easy to admit that you might need someone to guide you through your struggles. I think that the number one reason why we're afraid that we're struggling is that we feel as though we're alone in our struggles, like we're alone in this sea of negativity, drowning in stress, depression, feelings of inadequacy, confusion, whatever it is that is plaguing you.

I've heard stories about people that have felt so alone, so confused, so sad, so worthless, that they end up hurting themselves. But the thing is that this can be stopped if we take a moment to talk about it. To offer help. Although we can't just take those feelings away in a moment's notice, we can ease them and work on making those struggles go away. However, the reason that a lot of these people turn to hurting themselves is due to the fact that their struggles are their struggles alone. It's nice to have a person to talk to about what you're going through. There have been some times that I've felt like I've been reaching out, trying to talk about my own personal struggles, but it feels like no one is there, like no one is listening. 

I have these moments all the time, where I kind of want people to ask me if I'm okay, but at the same time I know that if anyone was to ask me, I would lie and say that "I'm fine" even though I am absolutely not. I think that everyone tends to have these feelings in which we want someone to be there for us, but at the same time, it's difficult to open up. I get that. Sometimes it just feels like no one understands you. But the thing is that there are people out there that understand you. If everyone is too afraid to open up about their struggles, then how will you find someone to talk to, relate to, understand you?

The thing is that someone is there for you, whether you know it or not. Maybe it's a teacher. Maybe a friend. Maybe a family member. There are people out there that get it. And no matter what you're going through, you're never in it alone. As a teenager, I feel like it's so easy to feel alone, like no one gets you and no one is willing to try, but that's not true. There are people out there that want to help you and are there for you, but they don't always know that you might need help or that you feel alone. When you say, "Is anyone there?" you can't just whisper it and then walk away, claiming that no one cared enough to help you. This is on you to be willing to call out for a lifesaver, be willing to open up. If you're too afraid to call out, then how will people know that you're feeling the exact same way that they're feeling? This is just like the Peter Pan Diaries. In order for me to reach people, I have to be willing to be just a little bit vulnerable, to put things out there that maybe I'm a little uncomfortable sharing, as they're definitely not my best moments, but this is the only way that I'm able to communicate to others the way that I'm feeling.

Sometimes, I go through some really rough patches and then cover them up and don't talk about them because I'm not strong enough to be vulnerable towards others. But in the meantime, I'm going through my rough patches feeling alone, feeling like there's no one to help me or guide me through them. So what I'm trying to say is that sometimes we have this sense of loneliness, but we're just too afraid to reach out and call out to someone. But in order for you to have someone to guide you through your rough patches, they need to know that you need help. In order to get through this feeling of loneliness in the world, you have to be willing to be just a little bit vulnerable and have the courage to admit that you're going through a rough patch so that you can find others that might be going through the same thing.

Extension: Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability

If you're feeling a sense of loneliness in the world, remember that you are never truly alone. I guarantee you that there is someone else out there in the world who is struggling with the same problem as you are. And it's always nice to have a friend, someone who you can rant to about all of your frustration, let out all of that pent up sadness with, someone that you can share your struggles with. When you're drowning in a sea of negativity, sometimes all you need is someone else to help keep you afloat, and maybe you can help each other stay afloat.

Reaching out is the hardest part to do, but sometimes it's worth it. If you're feeling like you want to talk to someone or like no one understands, for me, it's easier to talk to people that I don't have to actually see, talking to people on the internet. I don't know why I find it so much easier to talk to people that I barely know, maybe it's because I know that if I talk about my struggles with them, I never have to actually see them look me in the eye, but for some reason, I find it easier to open up on the internet. If you do too, you can always feel free to send me an email or a private message on social media and we can chat. The Peter Pan Diaries may have been created in order for me to reach you about my struggles and my beliefs in my teenage "growing up" years, but that doesn't mean that you can't tell me about your experiences and beliefs as well. We can keep each other afloat.

Let's talk about it, because you're not alone.

Twitter: @itssunnyrebecca (You can DM me!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Activities To Get Into the Holiday Mood

The holidays are just around the corner! It still hasn't really set in to me that it's already the end of November and we're quickly reaching the end of the year. It's just crazy how fast time is going by, it feels like the holiday season was just last week, but in reality, it has already been a whole year. Since it hasn't really set in yet, I figured that it might if I try doing some holiday activities to really get into the holiday spirit. There are so many holiday activities that I want to do during the month of December, and here are a few of them - ones that I want to do and I'm also recommending that you do if you want to try and get into the holiday mood. After all, 'tis the season, right?

Ice skating.

It's a classic activity for the wintertime, ice skating is so much fun no matter how old you are. Look for a local skating rink near you, the price for open skate is generally pretty cheap, about $10, but if you plan to go into a more populated area, like the city, it might be a bit more pricey. Get your gloves, get your coat, get your fuzzy socks, and head to the rink with some friends and/or family. Ice skating may seem daunting at first if you've never done it before, but you'll get a hang of it fast. It may seem scary to think about slipping and falling, but a) it doesn't actually hurt to much and b) you shouldn't let the fear of falling stop you from having fun with this winter activity. 

Cookie baking.

Ahh, the classic and timeless holiday activity. It's so much fun to bake cookies (especially with friends) and decorate them with cute holiday accessories. And let's be real, everyone loves cookies. Although gingerbread cookies may be the staple holiday cookie, you can get creative with your cookie baking and your cookie decorating. Here's an easy (and delicious!) recipe for Nutella filled thumbprint cookies with peppermint topping if you're interested in a different type of cookie than your typical sugar cookie or gingerbread. 


'Tis the season for giving, so why not give your time to help out? Look into local charities and/or organizations around you that you can volunteer at. Maybe you can work at a soup kitchen for the day. Maybe you can go to a food bank and help pack food. You can make gift baskets for people that don't have much during the holiday season. Volunteering is not only fantastic for helping to make your community a better place, but it's a fun way for you to spend your time. You can give back to the community during the season of giving and enjoy doing it.

Make snowflakes

Newsflash, making snowflakes isn't just an activity for kids anymore. Even as you become older, making snowflakes can still be such a fun activity. It can be calming and relaxing, just you, paper, and some scissors, snipping away to create something beautiful. I love the look of 3D snowflakes, there's a tutorial in this previous blog post of mine that you can follow

Go ugly Christmas sweater shopping.

Shopping for ugly Christmas sweaters can be a fun activity itself. It isn't just wearing them that's fun, but it's fun to look for them, scouting out the most outrageous ones. I saw tons of Christmas sweaters at Forever 21, but you can find the original ugly Christmas sweaters at thrift stores. I was at a thrift store a couple months ago and they already had big knit ugly Christmas sweaters for sale. Try on all the ugly Christmas sweaters, just for fun, and then purchase whichever ones that you like best. It's a fun activity and you can take it with you, wearing your ugly Christmas sweater with pride. 

Make Holiday cards.

I LOVE making Christmas cards. I always try and make some original ones for my friends, I like to use colored pencil or acrylic paint in order to make some cards. I love adding some cute puns onto the cards with fun visuals. If you're not super artsy, I posted a blog post last year with a super easy (and totally classy) card design, shown on the right, with the instructions here. All you need is cardstock, twigs (just grab some in your own backyard), a hot glue gun, and a gold sharpie. It's such a fun activity and I love seeing the smiles that people get when they receive a homemade Christmas card. If you want to make it even more of an activity, invite some friends over to make cards. You can pre-cut some cards out of cardstock and everyone can make a few cards. Set out some paints, colored pencils, markers, ribbon, stickers, and more, for a fun day of crafting.

Have a Friendsmas.

The holidays are usually the time to spend with family, but it's still fun to celebrate the holiday with friends. My favorite ideas for a successful Friendsmas might be a dinner party - show off your cooking skills and prepare some fancy dishes, a Christmas movie marathon, gingerbread house decorating, or cooking baking. Friendsmas is the time to go all out with the holiday cheer and really enjoy the holiday. Think "Friendsgiving" but for Christmas! It would be lots of fun to have a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange during Friendsmas as well, because for me, personally, it's so much fun to go gift shopping for others, but it is also just as fun to receive thoughtful or quirky gifts from your friends.

What will you be doing to get into the holiday mood? 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Finding Positivity When Things Look Grim

There are times in our lives when things don't look too bright. When it seems like you've lost your purpose, your motivation, or how whatever you're striving towards appears to be moving further and further away. Because sometimes things just feel hopeless. But when you think about it, isn't there so much more that is going right than what's going wrong? Although Thanksgiving is definitely not the highest up on my favorite holidays list, Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for what we have, especially before we turn to December and begin crafting our holiday wishlists. Thanksgiving reminds us that there are more things to be thankful for than all of the bad that plague your life. Because sometimes it just feels like nothing is going your way, but why should you let that negative thought plague your life any longer when there's so much good out in the world? Finding this positivity isn't always easy. Even though Thanksgiving has passed, finding things to be thankful for, to appreciate when things go wrong is still something that you should do all the time. So how do you find that appreciation when you feel like there's nothing to appreciate? Sometimes it just takes a change of perspective, a wake up call, which I intend to make of this Thanksgiving.

As a part of the Peter Pan Diaries series, if you haven't been updated, here's a brief summary about what the mini-series is about:
The Peter Pan diaries is a mini-series covering the various struggles, ups and downs, and giving guidance on the teen years. The Peter Pan series is for the people out there that are growing up, mostly aimed at the young adult years, but how they might not necessarily be ready to grow up yet, almost like Peter Pan. They're meant to help make the transition a little bit easier and also allow me to give my personal experiences and my perspectives on some struggles and controversial topics regarding teen life and being a young adult. 

A few days ago, just before Thanksgiving, I hit a roadblock in my life that really made me feel bad about myself. That day, I was feeling pretty good, and I was looking forward to getting working on things to enhance my life, working on new skills and working towards new goals. I was ready to get started and get going when all of a sudden this road block hit me. And with that road block came a sea of negative emotions. My positive growth mindset took a total 180 and I found myself doubting everything. I doubted my abilities, I doubted my talents, and I doubted myself. And when that bad event set in, it was literally like my heart sunk. It felt as though everything was just a mess for me. I felt like I was worthless and like I had no purpose in my life. I blamed myself for something that probably wasn't even my fault, something that was completely out of control. And instead of working on myself and my personal growth like I had originally planned, I found myself using that time to put myself down. I let all of my negative feelings pour out and take over. Other people already put you down and make you feel bad about yourself, so why should you just add onto that pain by putting yourself down? 

But eventually, after sitting there drowning in my sorrows for a while, I realized that it was pointless. Why was I letting this setback ruin a chance at personal growth for something else? I could have been working towards success instead of putting myself down. I realized that I was better than this. I could be better than this. There are so many things that I could have been doing with my time instead of feeling bad about myself. I could have been creating the person that I wanted to be, because yeah, maybe things weren't exactly how I wanted them to be, but isn't the next step changing that? Why was I letting my failures define me? So that day, after crying, I ended up getting up out of my bed and just doing. I started doing things that would (hopefully) lead me in the direction that I wanted. And maybe I had failed in that one category that day, but on the same day, I began to work on my personal growth in another category. Because sometimes when one door closes, another opens. And I didn't want to let the closing of that door stop me from moving onto something new. Today, maybe I'm still not completely over that one failure, but I've been coming to terms with it and accepting it while not letting it hold me back from new goals. The thing about failures is that they sometimes hold you back from further success. You spend so much time thinking about it that you waste all of the time and energy that you could have been pouring into something new. And sometimes realizing that just takes a change in perspective. 

A few days later, after having that mini-breakdown about my identity and my self-doubts, I started thinking to myself about how lucky I am. I don't know why I was being so negative about myself when I already have so much. I was raised in a nice middle-class family where I got what I wanted most of the time. I've always done well in school and haven't really had much of a stress from that. I've had opportunities that others don't. I get to travel the world and experience new cultures. I've walked the halls of the Palace of Versailles in France. I've been to Indonesian temples. I've walked the Great Wall of China. I've sat on the beautiful beaches in Mexico. I've been to Mozart's birthplace in Austria. So why was I complaining? I'm so privileged and I'm crying about a small little failure? Isn't that just a waste of my time and energy? My identity is made up of all of these incredible experiences that I have been lucky enough to have. I just didn't realize it until I changed my perspective. 

So how can you start seeing things in a new perspective, with more positivity instead of infectious negative ideas? The thing is that it's a bit easier said than done. Sometimes you just need a little push or a reminder, like Thanksgiving. But other times, you just might need an experience, like I had with that little self-bullying moment to turn your perspective around. And although it might be different for everyone, here are some tips that I hope might help you to view the world with more hope.

One // Write down one thing every day that you love about your life.

I'll bet you that the first few days of this will start out easy. Food. Water. A home. Family. But I challenge you to think further. Yeah, you have the basic necessities of life, which is fantastic, but what else do you love about your life? For example, I love that I'm able to share my thoughts online, even if no one is listening, maybe I can help someone out there that is going through something similar. All you need to do is sit down for a little while and think. What about your life is amazing? If you can't think of anything, you're not thinking hard enough. Even the littlest things can make your life better, without you even realizing it. Maybe it's that you saw a movie that you enjoyed, and for those 2 short hours, you were able to escape the stress of your life. Maybe it's that you just bought a new candle that makes you feel calm and happy. Look for things that make you happy.

Two // Listen to others.

I bet you that there is someone else out there that is struggling through the same thing. And sometimes that's all that it takes to find a bright side to something, knowing that you're not alone. Find friends, people on the internet, celebrities, anyone that might be struggling with something similar and just take a moment to listen. We spend so much time complaining about everything that's wrong in our lives that we sometimes forget to listen to others, and realize that maybe our problems aren't as big as they seem. One of my favorite people to listen to is Katy Bellotte (hellokatyxo), who makes incredible videos. She always discusses topics that lots of people are struggling with, but is able to put a positive spin on it and really empower people. Another great resource for listening is Ted talks. Ted talks get so creative, but also give you a dose of #RealTalk. Look for speakers that discuss personal experiences or positivity or something that you're struggling with.

Three // Listen to music that empowers you.

Music is such a powerful thing. Although I'm not the kind of person that's really into music, there are just some songs that you fall in love with and can turn your negative emotions into feelings of happiness. For me, it's not always about the lyrics of a song, it's just about how the song makes me feel. Music has this amazing capability of creating whatever mood that it wants to create, bringing different kinds of emotions to light, just depending on the way that the music sounds. For example, here's an article about the psychology of music and emotions, which is absolutely fascinating. It's amazing to see that scientifically, music can make you feel better, but obviously it depends on the song, since music can provoke a huge variety of different emotions. I've added a playlist on Spotify with some of my favorite songs and also another with music that just makes me feel good. Note that these songs aren't necessarily selected based on the lyrics, but mostly just based on how I feel from listening to these songs.

Because at the end of the day, do you really want to have spent your life feeling sorry for yourself? Sometimes when things get rough we just need to weather through the storm and find something that gets us through it. The storm will pass, but only if you stop it from consuming you, from taking over your life. Consider this your wake up call, your reminder about all of the good in your life. Don't let those small failures and setbacks rule out everything beautiful and good that you have. Because your failures don't dictate who you are or who you can be in the future. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mini Maple Cheesecakes

Just a few days ago, I attended Friendsgiving with some of my friends. We cooked an elaborate homemade meal with lots of food and we were all assigned different parts of the meal to prepare. A small group of people prepared appetizers, a small group prepared sides, a small group prepared the main meal, and a small group prepared desserts. I, with one other person, worked on making dessert. We opted for something maple based, since we both like maple and it's also a nice fall flavor that's perfect for Friendsgiving. Thus enters the mini maple cheesecakes. In small, person-sized portions and much easier to make than a whole cheesecake, these mini maple cheesecakes are perfect for parties, especially during the Thanksgiving season. 

We originally planned to make a maple cheesecake with apple topping, but after the apple topping went wrong, we slightly modified the original recipe. The one that we used was from Sugar and Soul (the recipe is here), but I'm going to list the modified recipe. You definitely need to allow quite a bit of time in order to make this recipe, especially if you're making it for a party. Expect to spend about 2 hours of prep time and about 3-6 hours of refrigeration - totaling about 5-8 hours before serving. This recipe makes 24 mini cheesecakes, about the size of cupcakes. 


2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp melted butter

1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
3 8-oz packages of cream cheese - softened to room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup condensed milk
1/2 tsp vinegar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 tsp salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Topping (optional):
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Maple syrup (for garnish)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Line two cupcake pans with aluminum foil cupcake liners.
  3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar in a medium bowl. After thoroughly mixing, add in the melted butter and stir until evenly coated. This will be the crust.
  4. Use a small spoon and scoop the mix for the crust into the cupcake pans. Use the spoon to pack the crust tightly together so the graham cracker crumbs stick together. 
  5. Place the cupcake pans with the crust in them in the freezer. 
  6. While the crust is in the freezer, you can begin to work on the cheesecake filling.
  7. Add 1 1/4 cups of pure maple syrup into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir occasionally and heat for about 5 minutes. After that, remove from heat and let it cool until it reaches room temperature.
  8. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and brown sugar until it reaches a smooth consistency.
  9. Slowly add in the cooled maple syrup and mix at low speed.
  10. While the mixer is going, slowly add in the eggs. Mix at low speed until the ingredients are combined.
  11. Remove the cupcake pans from the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling into the cupcake pans until the pans are about 7/8 full, or a little under completely full. Note that the cheesecake is likely going to rise in the oven, but by the time that it cools, it will return to the height of however full the pans were when the batter was raw. Keep this in mind while filling the pans.
  12. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes or until the top has lost its sheen.
  13. Allow the cheesecakes to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge. Allow to refrigerate for about 3-6 hours. The refrigeration time is relatively flexible, but the cheesecake tastes best after this amount of refrigeration time.
  14. While the cheesecakes are refrigerating, you can begin making the topping. Combine all of the dry ingredients of the topping (everything except for the maple syrup) in a small bowl. 
  15. Once you're ready to serve the cheesecakes, sprinkle on the powder topping and then drizzle the cheesecake with maple syrup.
And that's a wrap for the mini-maple cheesecakes. It helps in terms of presentation if you remove the aluminum foil cupcake liners and then place them on individual plates before adding the topping. If you do end up making these mini-maple cheesecakes, I would love if you sent a picture to me - let's chat about it on Twitter! If not, you can just enjoy the pictures of the delicious cheesecake, because pictures speak louder than words. Have a happy Thanksgiving and eat all the food. Be thankful for everything that you have and enjoy this holiday to its fullest -- remember that Christmas isn't until next month, so cherish Thanksgiving while it lasts instead of skipping over to Christmas. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Style Spotlight: Midi Skirts

When I first heard of the midi skirt trend, my immediate reaction was that I would never be able to pull them off. I thought that they were more just something that bloggers wear and celebrities can style, but not great for day-to-day wear. However, I soon realized that I was wrong. Midi skirts aren't as difficult to pull off as you might think. I used to think that since I was short, they wouldn't look good on me and make me look shorter, and that might be true that they make me look shorter in some cases, but let me tell you, I look sooo good in midi skirts and I'm not going to hide it. They make me feel confident, glamorous, but also comfortable, like I don't have to worry about flashing anyone. Midi skirts are so much more versatile than you think, they can be perfect daytime looks but they can also easily be transformed into night looks in a hurry. So since I've been so in love with midi skirts, I thought that it was about time that I put the style spotlight on them. 

A brief history behind the midi skirt

Originally popular in the 20s through 50s, the midi skirt is making its way back. The midi skirt actually started in the 20s, after the war and the new era of money and partying. Ankles were out, but not everyone during the time wore flapper dresses. With the economy later falling as a result of the Great Depression, modesty was still important, with the midi being a bit more conservative than the formerly flashy flapper dresses. However, after World War II, we saw somewhat of a resurgence of the midi, particularly by Dior, who introduced his "New Look" collection, featuring full midi skirts and cinched waists, creating new, post-war fashion. Midis were out by the 60s, being replaced with the new mini skirts. In history, midi skirts have been somewhat controversial. While mini skirts were all the rage in the 60s, in the 70s, midi skirts came back by marketing campaigns and retailers. Women rejected this look, not liking the particular look that retailers were forcing upon them. Protests against the midi skirt popped up, but by the 80s had faded, becoming more about the personal styles of women and less about what retailers force upon them. 
Read more about the history of the midi skirt here and here.

Where to find midi skirts?

Midi skirts are actually quite easy to find as of lately, especially since they're coming back! However, I've compiled a short list including the places that I've found that have a wider and/or nicer selection of midi skirts.

ASOS. Asos has such a huge variety of midi skirts that you can choose from. They have by far the largest selection out of all the other retailers that I've looked at and they have a great variety, with some midi skirts that are more ready for the evening, some more fitting for the daytime, and some that can go either way. Currently, they have over 1,000 different midi skirts on their website that you can purchase and there are so many cute ones! Although the sizing at ASOS is not always consistent, since they have a variety of brands, they offer free shipping and free returns (not positive on the free returns) just in case the midi skirt that you purchase doesn't quite fit.

ModCloth. If you're going for the retro look instead of the modern take on the midi, ModCloth has lots of retro styles for midi skirts. This is probably a better option if you're looking for office wear rather than a casual look. There are also some more whimsy patterns that you can choose from at ModCloth, if you're the kind of person that likes fancy patterns rather than your run-of-the-mill polka dots or stripes. ModCloth has midi skirts that are perfect for day looks. 

Boohoo. If you're looking for an edgier midi skirt that isn't necessarily what they would be wearing back in the 40s, Boohoo has some more modern and edgier midi skirts that you can select from. They have a wider selection of bodycon midi skirts than ASOS and ModCloth, so if that's the kind of skirt that you're looking for, Boohoo is the place to visit. These midi skirts are a bit more night ready rather than day, so if you're looking for a midi skirt to party in or go out on the town in, then this is the place to look. 

Styling tips

Pair a chunky sweater with a midi skirt to dress it down.

Midi skirts are fun, but sometimes you just want to dress them down. I've been seeing street style looks all over Pinterest of people wearing chunky sweaters with midi skirts. Even with a more dressy skirt, like this gold one, a chunky sweater tones it down, especially if you wear a simple one. It's always great to wear a cozy sweater, even if it's a very basic, solid sweater, with a midi skirt, because it makes you look well put together, but it's actually so comfortable. Wearing midi skirts are so comfortable because a skirt is a lot less constraining than pants and the midi skirt is long enough that you don't have to worry about tugging your hem down. Wear a chunky sweater with a midi skirt and it makes you feel like you're wearing pajamas, but everyone else thinks that a) you have your life together and b) you look super cute. 

Wear shoes that have ankle straps.

I have quite a few pairs of shoes that strap around the ankle, like these lace up flats shown above. The problem with these shoes are that when I wear them with jeans, the pants tend to cover up the ankle straps, which is so disappointing, since the ankle strap adds half of the overall effect to the shoes. Take advantage of the extra leg space and wear your favorite shoes with ankle straps. For example, these lace up flats from Steve Madden tie together (pun intended) this outfit perfectly. The skirt shows off the fancy strings on the shoes so that your ankle straps get their time to shine. 

Pair a midi skirt with a button down for that office chic look.

Forget uncomfortable pencil skirts! Look professional (or at least cute business casual) by pairing a button down with a nice midi skirt. Obviously, the midi skirt that you pick will likely determine how professional you look, but I can almost guarantee that a basic button down will match with your midi skirt. In this example, I paired a burgundy skirt with a chambray button down, so it appears more business casual. However, you can wear a more crisp and professional button down maybe with a black skirt if you want to maintain a higher level of professionalism. 

Pair a structured crop top or bralette and heels with a midi skirt for a night out.

Obviously, this works better with some more glamorous midi skirts, but you can take a normal midi skirt from day to night by pairing it with a more structured crop top and a pair of heels. Midi skirts are so easily transformed from day looks to night looks and really all you need is some darker colors and a more dressy top. You can even pair a midi skirt with a lacy bralette as well, preferably black to get more of a night look. Take this moment to show off your favorite bralette or a more structured crop top that you would never wear on a day to day basis. Throw on some heels with the skirt to finish off the night look and add a bit more glam. 

My midi skirt picks:

If you were wondering, the two midi skirts that I've shown in these pictures are linked, plus some other midi skirts that have me totally swooning!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What To Do If You Don't Have A Plan for the Future

The future is a scary place. It's something completely unknown, a blank slate that could at any moment be altered. The choices that you make today are ones that shape the future, which making decisions a lot more difficult, especially when you're dealing with huge, life altering choices. I think that the biggest one of these life altering choices and likely one of the first ones that you deal with is what you want to do with the rest of your life as a teenager. I hear it all the time, the dreaded, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I hear it from my dentist as they're looking at my teeth. I hear it as fun (not so fun) get to know you games. I hear it as I meet new people. I hear it from my teachers. I hear it from my friends. It's a question that is always plaguing you, especially if you have no idea what the answer is. When I say that I'm not sure, they always reassure me that I have time. But eventually, there comes a moment when you're out of time. What do you do then? 

As a part of the Peter Pan Diaries series, if you haven't been updated, here's a brief summary about what the mini-series is about:
The Peter Pan diaries is a mini-series covering the various struggles, ups and downs, and giving guidance on the teen years. The Peter Pan series is for the people out there that are growing up, mostly aimed at the young adult years, but how they might not necessarily be ready to grow up yet, almost like Peter Pan. They're meant to help make the transition a little bit easier and also allow me to give my personal experiences and my perspectives on some struggles and controversial topics regarding teen life and being a young adult. 

As much as I would like to tell you that it's 100% okay to not have any clue what you want to do with the future, I have to think practically. It isn't always possible to be completely spontaneous with your life and see where it takes you, even though there are some amazing stories about it. Sometimes you do have to do a bit of planning or at least have a broad idea of what you want in life. How else are you supposed to reach goals if you don't have any?

I always wished that I was one of those people that always knew what they wanted to be when they grow up. I know some friends that have always known exactly what they wanted in their life. One friend wants a career in neuroscience. Another wants to go into foreign affairs. Another wants to be a pediatrician. The thing that I envied was that for them, their future didn't seem so blurry, they had a path to follow. They could take courses that best prepare them for their dream jobs, apply to universities that specialize in that field, and they had a vision for where they wanted to be. For them, they had a sense of direction. For me, it has always been unknown, like walking blind.

We're always expected to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives, but that's scary. Being tied down to one job for the rest of your life? That freaks me out big time. It's almost as though if I was to pick a profession that I wanted to follow, I would eventually hate it, feeling boxed in. I'm just worried that I'll make the wrong choice or I won't figure it out in time. It just feels like the time that I have to make a decision is ticking away faster and faster. So how do you finally come to a decision?

To come to a decision, you have to take the time and effort to find an answer. This means taking time out of your life to maybe explore potential professions that might interest you, taking career finding tests -- and actually using them, like looking into the possibilities that it offers to you based on your personality on a serious level. Don't just write something off right away and try to keep your options open, as difficult as it is. The best thing to do is to keep an open mind, to not close yourself off to potential professions. There is a profession out there that you will love, even if it means creating your own profession. Remember that it's not impossible to create your own based on your passions, although it's a risky step, there are so many people out there that have carved out careers in places in which none existed beforehand. This doesn't just mean entrepreneurs. Take YouTuber, Zoe Sugg, for example, who creates videos online and makes a living through it. 10 years ago, no one would have expected this to be a profession, but she, like many other online video creators out there, have made their place in the world based off of their own interests. For example, here's an article about 10 women that hustled their way to the top. It isn't an easy path, but it sure can be rewarding.

I believe that if you don't have a plan for the future, the #1 thing that you can do is just do things because you love them. Why would you take a class like chemistry if you absolutely hate it? Maybe it would help you if you planned to be a doctor, but what if you changed your mind? Would you regret wasting your time on something that you didn't absolutely love? I've been trying to do things just for the sake of my own happiness, hoping that one of these days it will lead me to something that I might want to spend the rest of my life doing. So what are some things that you can do to prepare for the future even if you have no idea what you want? Here are some ideas and tips:

Try out everything.

The thing is that you never know what you'll like until you try it. There are some things that I would have never seen myself doing that I ended up really enjoying. For example, I never would have seen myself performing on a stage before, but in middle school, I tried out theater, and I really liked it, because it was a way for me to practice my public speaking (which was absolutely terrifying to me) in a creative and fun way. If you have no idea what you want to pursue in the future, try out things that encapsulate all types of job fields. Maybe try learning computer code such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, or some other code that you can easily learn on sites such as Codecademy and see how you would like computer science. Maybe join your school newspaper and try your hand at journalism. Try out robotics to see how you would like engineering. Or craft a business idea and/or product idea (there are competitions where you can submit these) to see how you would like a career in business. There are tons of things out there that you can try out that's more than your typical core classes in school. Not everyone has to be a doctor or an accountant, there are lots more jobs that you can try out and see how you like them.

Take classes/courses that interest you.

For me, picking out classes and courses had always been a little difficult for me, as my school didn't have many choices and I couldn't figure out which course would best suit me. I heard lots of people around me debating their courses, like I had a friend that wanted to be a doctor, so she wanted to take biology and chemistry to fit that path, but at the same time, she felt as though she didn't necessarily like chemistry much. I always believe that although it's nice to be able to be well equipped for the career of your dreams with the proper classes, you should choose courses because you think that you'll enjoy them, not solely based on whether or not they set you up on a track to success for your dream job. The thing is that your current dream job might not be the same in a couple of years and if you base all of your courses off of a road plan towards only one specific profession, then you would have wasted your time with classes that you didn't like and now would have all of this knowledge on something that you're no longer interested in. If today you happened to be interested in physics rather than econ, even though you would like to go into business, you should choose the course that will make you happy in this moment because it is what your passion is.

Don't just do what your friends are doing. 

Let's just say that all of your friends want to be doctors when they grow up, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to follow. A part of growing up means forging your own identity and your own choices, not just going off of what everyone else is doing. Maybe you want to take a course because all of your friends are doing it, but you absolutely hate that course and see no future in it, especially not a career with it, don't feel like you need to follow along on their dreams instead of finding yours. Spend these next few years of your life leading up to college or during college focusing on you. What do you like doing? What makes you feel good? What doesn't? Look for things that make you happy, even if your friends wouldn't be doing it.

Talk to others about your options.

Talk to your parents. Talk to your friends. Talk to teachers/professors. Talk to counselors. It's great to discuss options with others. Some people can help steer you into a direction that you didn't even see as an option. These people, especially friends and family, know you best, and might already know of a profession that you would fall in love with that you have yet to discover. It's almost like when you're looking for that special someone. Maybe they don't have dating apps for careers (but wouldn't that be a good idea??), but you can still get advice from those close to you, almost like them setting you up on a date, but in this case, they can pair you up with a potential career. They say that couples paired up together by friends and family are more likely to succeed, so the same could apply for professions as well. These people are the people that know you, sometimes even better than you know yourself. Don't be afraid to ask them for help, because sometimes they can be the ones that guide you to the right place. 

Not having a plan for the future can be scary and as much as I would like to say that you don't need a plan for the future, a part of me knows that it's better to have a plan. But even if you don't have a plan, it doesn't mean that it's not possible for you to succeed. The thing about the future is that it can all work out in the end, even if you have a few bumps on the way. If you don't have a plan for the future, it's just a bump, a barrier, on your road to success. All it takes to overcome that barrier is just a little more effort and before you know it, the future will be yours. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Body Image: Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Body image is tough, because you have one look, but in the society that we live in, we're expected to have another. We're surrounded by Photoshopped models and celebrities that are always expected to look perfect and it rubs off on us as well. We're constantly trying to appear perfect, in terms of more than just our size and shape. Celebrities are criticized by the media when they put on weight and every little bit about them is hyper-analyzed. "Your lips are too small, your cheekbones aren't prominent enough, your thighs are too big, your chest is too small," the words circle around us, constantly plaguing us into believing that we're not beautiful enough. That we're not good enough. But let me tell you, you absolutely are. You're more than good enough. People of all ages and all genders struggle with their body images, but this is especially prominent as a teenager or young adult, which is why it's a part of the Peter Pan Diaries.

Here's a brief summary of what the Peter Pan diaries are if you haven't been keeping up with the mini-series:

The Peter Pan diaries is a mini-series covering the various struggles, ups and downs, and giving guidance on the teen years. The Peter Pan series is for the people out there that are growing up, mostly aimed at the young adult years, but how they might not necessarily be ready to grow up yet, almost like Peter Pan. They're meant to help make the transition a little bit easier and also allow me to give my personal experiences and my perspectives on some struggles and controversial topics regarding teen life and being a young adult. 

Body image is one of the primary things that teenagers, young adults, and even fully grown adults deal with. In the world that we live in, the way that you look is highly influential on how you feel. There's a lot of body standards that people are expected to live up to, male or female. Although there tends to be more of an emphasis on body image for females, it is still very well possible for males to struggle with body image. A lot of the body standards that people are expected to live up to tend to be kind of contrasting, as body standards constantly change with time. (I LOVE this Buzzfeed video about the ideal body types for women throughout the ages) However, these standards often plague people into making them think about everything that they don't have, believing that they're not beautiful enough since they might not have what the models have.

Sometimes we just get caught up in all of the things that we're missing rather than what we have. When I was younger, all I ever wanted was wavy hair, I hated my straight hair. I would braid my hair to get it wavy, since I thought that straight hair was boring. But eventually I learned to love my straight hair, as there were so many people out there that had what I wanted, but instead wanted what I had. The thing is that we always want what we don't have. We see pictures of models and celebrities and as we compare ourselves to them, all we see is what they have and what we don't. But why are we even envying the body images others when in reality, other people are envying what you have?

Thankfully, I've never really had the struggle with body image really plague me, but that doesn't mean that I don't have insecurities and such, I just learn to live with them. The thing is, I've been blessed with being very thin in a society where there is a drifting belief that skinny = beautiful. But that's not always the case. I always think to myself, what if it was the other way around? I would be the one getting shamed for my body and trying to change myself to fit the ideals of others. The thing is that I wasn't always like this, I wasn't always thin. Although I don't have a crazy inspiring story, I wasn't always as skinny as I am now. During my elementary school to early middle school years, I was a little pudgy. I wasn't overweight, but I was on the heavier end of healthy, bordering towards the overweight category. And honestly? I wasn't that happy with it. I felt like my stomach was too big and honestly, my cheeks were a little pudgy. I think that the clothes that I wore didn't necessarily help either, as it was the age of Abercrombie, when I wore tighter fitting clothes, thinking that they were cool, but they really weren't. Not only were they just not very nice clothes, but they didn't fit my body type. I wasn't wearing the clothes that are most flattering on me. It put me down that I was a little pudgy, and although I eventually grew out of it, I still look back on myself and think about how fat my cheeks look and know unflattering I appear in those tighter fitting clothes that weren't for my body type. I think that my biggest mistake wasn't that I didn't lose weight, but that I tried to force myself into clothes that weren't really for me. I tried to conform to what was popular instead of picking out things that I really wanted and would have looked good in. 

I think that one of the takeaways from that story is that not everyone has the same body type and it means that we might not all be fit for the same clothes. Don't try to force yourself into something that just isn't for you. This goes for trying to physically force yourself into a smaller size or wearing clothes that other people think is cool, even if they're not the most flattering for your shape and size. I know some people that are just dying to fit into smaller sizes, believing that it will make them feel better about themselves, believing that it will make them more beautiful. Wearing a size small doesn't make you any happier, especially if that's not your size. And honestly? I hate when people complain about how they wish they were skinnier. Because everyone has their own beautiful bodies that are perfect the way that they are. Why would you force yourself to change? It's like trying to genetically modify a beautiful rose to turn it into a daisy. They're both beautiful flowers, but why would you ever try and change it into something that it's not? 

And this brings me to dieting. I'm personally not a fan of dieting. I feel like dieting can be done well in terms of nutrition, but dieting does not mean that you eat less. I hate when I see people that say that they're on diets, but in reality, their diet means skipping a meal or eating barely anything.

I don't know how people can go without eating, because food is so freakin' good. In addition to that, food is good for you! Starving yourself will do you no good, physically or mentally. If you want to go on a diet, I believe that you should go on a diet based on nutrition rather than the amount of food. Eating healthy is fantastic and I think that going on a diet to eat better is a fantastic idea. Maybe you eat more greens or you eat less red meat, but do it for your health, not for your size. I believe that the only reason that trying to lose weight should be a goal is if it is harming your health. If your doctor recommends it, then it's for your health, it's something that will help you in the long run. But if you doctor doesn't recommend to you to diet, or you're not overweight in a harming way, then it's not a priority to worry about weight. In addition, exercise is another thing. Whenever I say that I exercise, people might say to me, "Why do you need to exercise? You're so thin!" And honestly, that drives me crazy. Exercising does not mean that you are thin. I rarely ever exercise, which is absolutely horrible for my health, so that's not the reason why I'm thin. When I exercise, I exercise for my health, so that I can be more fit and in good shape, not because I'm trying to lose weight. I believe that exercise's number one priority should be for being healthy. Of couse I need to exercise! I don't exercise to be thin, I do it for health! And it drives me mad when people tell me that I don't need to because they don't understand the importance of exercise.

Okay, back to insecurities! Although I do fit the body expectation of a thin frame, being thinner also isn't always as glamorous as it seems at first sight. I know someone who is so thin that she refuses to wear skirts or anything that shows her ankles, because people used to tease her about how small they were. She is so self-conscious about her legs and her ankles that she can't even bring herself to show them. She buys specific shoes to try not to emphasize them and it's definitely one of her body insecurities. Insecurities aren't impossible, even if you do seem to fit the body expectations at first glance. People tell me that they wish that they were as skinny as I am, but the thing is that it's just DNA. It's just how I was born, I can't control it, I can't force myself to gain weight, just like you can't force yourself to change either, so why not learn to embrace it? It's just the way that I am.

The truth is, everyone has their own insecurities about their body, even your favorite celebrities. I've had some body insecurities about my eyes in specific. What you probably don't realize is that my eyes aren't actually even. One of my eyes is slightly smaller than the other and actually bends in a little more. For example, when I wear mascara, my eyelashes curl inwards to one eye but curl outwards to another. This has been an insecurity of mine, specifically in the past, since I was always hyper-aware of these so called imperfections. In pictures, specifically when I smile, it's much more obvious that one eye is smaller, which always made me feel insecure, but lately, I've been letting it go. I'm aware of the fact that they're not 'perfect' but I'm not going to let it get to me. 

Why are we so caught up in our insecurities and what we don't have? Why don't we appreciate what we do have? I have nice, natural straight hair that other people would kill for. I don't have to use a straightener, and I never have to worry about it getting out of hand. And I'm so lucky for that. I'm healthy! We totally underrate healthiness in terms of body image. I've read stories about how girls and boys diet so much that they become underweight (maybe anorexia, bulimic, or just plain underweight) and they love the fact that they're underweight, because it makes them feel good, it becomes part of their identity. But the truth is, that health should always come before body image. In addition, I have a small chest, which in this world can be seen as an imperfection. I've had so many people talk about how they think that they're small chested when I'm way smaller than they are. But I've come to terms with it. I have my own benefits, wearing bralettes, being able to run without pain, not having to wear a bra with a lot of clothes, and more. I'm putting my own positive spin on that things that can potentially cause insecurities.

The best thing that you can do with your insecurities is to not 'put up with them', but look for things about your insecurities that make them better. These are the things that make you unique! Don't abandon them. Look on the bright side, what is good about the things that make you insecure? How do they make you unique?

 I asked some bloggers to pitch in and give their take (including personal experiences) on body image and this is what they said:

"The best thing I've learned is to never say something to myself or about myself [in terms of body image] that I wouldn't say to someone else! When you learn to treat yourself as nicely as you treat others, your internal conversation shifts!"

"Body image has never really been something I struggled with as much as a lot of other girls, which is something I'm truly blessed to say. I struggle more with confidence issues in terms of socializing, but, that being said, there are still many times I feel ugly, gross, or unhappy with my appearance. One thing in particular I've always struggled with is my VERY curly hair. When I was little, my hair was stick straight, but when I hit puberty, it was suddenly frizzy and unmanageable and ugly (I thought, at least). For years and year I have struggled with learning to love it, and it was really only the last couple years or so that I've learned to tame it and feel comfortable with it. Now (if I can get the frizz to calm down), it's one of my favorite physical attributes! Y'all, I cannot stress enough that you are SO beautiful and SO loved. Some of the most beautiful, wonderful people I know struggle so much with body image, and it truly breaks my heart to see girls down on themselves about how they look. You are beautiful, you are loved, and you are really stinkin' awesome, friend."
- Alison (Beauty and Blazers)

The point is that getting comfortable in your own skin means that you accept your insecurities and hopefully embrace them. Don't try to force something beautiful into something else. Let's go back to the flowers. No matter what kind of flower you are, you're beautiful in your own way. Don't try to change a rose into a daisy, because the only thing that it would do would ruin something gorgeous. Don't turn into someone that just conforms to what everyone else looks like. What's the fun in that? Why would you want to look exactly like everyone else? Part of being comfortable in your own skin means being your own individual. It means that you are unique and you are your own individual person. Because today I challenge you to find one thing that makes you insecure and think about all of the ways that it makes you, you. You will be with yourself for the rest of your life, so why spend your life hating the only body that you have? This is your life, your body, and this is you, and being comfortable in your own skin means loving your own body, your own life, and loving yourself.