I Took a Break from Social Media and You Should Too.

It’s no secret that social media greatly impacts our lives.  Some of us are more affected than others for various reasons, whether it be our difference in use or pre-existing attitudes.  I don’t personally believe that social media is an inherently negative thing.  There are actually many positives to social media in my opinion.  It has a way of making the world feel smaller.  Through social media, people from all backgrounds can share information and learn about and from one another.  You can use social media to raise awareness about really important things that would otherwise not reach as many people.  You can use social media to market your business.  You can use social media to stay up to date in your loved ones’ lives.  You can use social media to find a sense of community, a good laugh, a job, a significant other or a used couch.  I think that we determine how social media affects us.  If you are not aware, it can be detrimental in a myriad of ways, but more on that later.


I am a huge fan of Twitter.  I get a lot of my laughs from reading everyone’s daily thoughts, and I have more drafts saved on Twitter than I’d like to admit.  I also frequent Instagram and Snapchat very regularly.  I occasionally use Facebook, but I don’t check it everyday and haven’t posted a status in years.

I typically start my mornings by scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and catching up on Snapchat stories.  And by “scrolling” I mean looking at every post until I see posts that I’ve already seen so that I don’t miss anything.


Recently, I had noticed that a lot of the times when I was upset it was due to something I had seen on social media.  Of course, I control my own reactions, and I was reacting in such a way because of other problems.  Nevertheless, I knew that social media was feeding into my depression and anxiety, making it more difficult to overcome.

I also had been feeling extra less-than-worthy recently.  While I typically battle occasional feelings of being not good enough, for whatever reason they had been elevated for the past few months.  I wouldn’t admit it, but I had sneaking suspicions that this may have been due to consuming copious amounts of social media, or at least that it wasn’t helping.

One Sunday night around midnight, I was up alternating between Twitter and Instagram, frustrated that I was still awake and unable to put my phone down despite having to wake up in seven hours.  I had been telling myself that I would eventually take a break from social media for awhile, and I just decided that it was time.  In a moment of clarity, I realized that if I wanted to feel better I needed to delete all of my social media apps (specifically Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and VSCO), and I did just that.  My biggest concern was that Snapchat is my primary form of communication, so I posted on my story that I would be away from social media for at least a week and that I could be reached via text.  (I want to thank the people that reached out to me after seeing that and asked if I was okay.  It is very appreciated, and it did help to hear that people cared about me and my wellbeing.)


It felt really weird to wake up Monday and see only the weather app on my home screen when I went to do my routine scrolling.  Once I was awake, I had no reason to stay in bed so getting ready was much quicker.  I ended up having about 15 minutes to kill before I had to leave for class.

Having a lot of free time was a continuing theme throughout the week.  I found myself almost uncomfortable when I had a free five minutes waiting for my next class or my coffee.  I also was much more productive.  During my usual library sessions, I didn’t spend the first 45 minutes on my phone as I usually did.  Because of this, I accomplished much more, which decreased my stress and again gave me a lot more free time than I was used to.

I did experience a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), but not as much as I expected.  I was worried about being left out because of missing out on snaps in my group chats.  I missed talking to people that I only ever talked to on Snapchat (to my Vlasak family members, I miss our daily morning snaps).  I missed scrolling through twitter and laughing.  I missed sending memes back and forth with my friends.  I missed understanding what the heck people meant when they talked about things they saw on Twitter or Instagram.  However, I didn’t miss posting or tweeting.  I didn’t miss the notifications.  I didn’t miss having ten minutes to get ready in the morning because I spent to long obsessively having to look at every single post before I would allow myself to stop scrolling.  I didn’t miss being distracted when I tried to do my homework or talk to my friends, and I really didn’t miss feeling not good enough because I didn’t look a certain way or because my life isn’t a certain way that other people’s lives supposedly are based on their Instagram profiles.

I noticed a decrease in my bad moods.  I had less things to be upset about because I was being exposed to less.  While I still had some negative thoughts and feelings, they were less frequent.  Also, I noticed that I was thinking less about things that typically bothered me all of the time.  I believe that this is because I had less reminders.  By not being on social media, I was more able to control what I spent my energy thinking about.

I also noticed myself living solely for my own enjoyment.  During the week, I didn’t do anything because it would look cool on my story or because it would be a cool photo to add to my Instagram.  Some days I didn’t even wear makeup because I knew that I wouldn’t be snapping anyone.  I lived in the moment.  I was more present in everything.  I was off of my phone when people were trying to talk to me, and I didn’t scroll to fill “awkward” lulls in conversations.  I was wholly a part of every moment in the present.  (And bonus: my phone’s battery lasted all day.)


I will eventually re-download my social media apps.  (And if you’re reading this, chances are you saw it on my Instagram and therefore I already have).  That might be surprising considering I just listed at least 5 ways that my life improved without social media.  Remember what I said in the first paragraph about social media not being inherently bad?  I believe my use of Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram is what was really negatively weighing on my life.  I will continue to be on social media, but I will be drastically altering how.  I am the type of person who needs hard and fast rules, so I will be listing some do’s and do not’s.

First of all, I will not use social media to delay getting out of bed in the morning.  If I can wait until I have actual free time to check Instagram, I will be much more productive and efficient.

I will not think of social media as something I have to keep up with.  It will take some work, but if I can come to terms with missing some things and only using these apps when I have time or “need” to for a specific use (entertainment, socializing, sharing, marketing my Photography business) I will be a lot less stressed.

I will be cutting down on the amount of accounts I follow (celebrities and people I know-of, don’t worry friends and family<3).  Following less people will decrease the amount of things I have to look at.  Therefore, I won’t be able to spend as much time scrolling and I won’t have as much risk of seeing something that makes me feel negatively.

I will put my phone away and stop scrolling when I am out living my life and actively enjoy what is going on around me.

Most importantly, I will be aware of the things that I have learned about how my social media use affects my life.  Keeping all of these things in mind will help me to monitor my use.  I’ll be able to tell if I’m wasting too much of my time scrolling or if I’m feeling particularly bad about myself due to Instagram models.  I also will most definitely be repeating these breaks periodically to continue to learn and refresh.


I’ve broken down how my personal social media use affects me and the things that I can do to possibly help myself.  However, everyone is different.  Sure, you could follow my do’s and don’t’s and you probably would see some improvement, but you might have different problems surrounding your social media use.  Not to mention, this week without social media has cleared my head and allowed me to reflect.  I think that everyone can benefit from taking a break from social media, so I challenge you reading this to delete your social media apps for at least a few days and pay attention to the changes that happen in your life.  Let me know what you notice and if you have any do’s and don’t’s of your own!

-<3 Alana

Featured image provided by Pexels

Virgin Islands and Not-So-Virgin Daiquiris


After leaving home at midnight, driving 3 hours to O’Hare, standing in countless lines, 2 3-hour flights, a 2-hour layover in Fort Lauderdale and a cramped taxi ride, we finally arrived at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort on Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands at around 5 PM.  All three of us–my mom, little brother Ian and I–were understandably exhausted and starving.  We had dinner at the restaurant at the resort, Iggy’s, and spent the rest of the night watching crappy TV and sleeping off the long day.

The three of us took an impressive one minute to finish off this mango cheesecake.


Everyone we’d spoken to had told us that Saint John, another of the US Virgin Islands, was an absolute must see, and they were all 100% correct.  On Tuesday, we took a 15 minute ferry ride to Cruz Bay, one of the two towns on Saint John, and rented a Jeep Wrangler for the day.  With several maps in hand and the confidence inducing advise of “stay to the left and watch out for donkeys”, we set out to explore the vast Virgin Island national park that takes up 2/3 of the island.

At first, the driving was terrifying.  They drive on the “wrong” side of the road.  There are no guard rails or shoulders.  To the left of the road was a steep drop off into the Caribbean sea, and to the right was forest and mountains.  The roads were also extremely steep and wound around the mountainous island like a serpent, sharply turning at a 60 degree incline.

All of these treacherous conditions, however, made for stunning views once you could get past the anxiety of it all.


We eventually got to Trunk Bay.  Being Saint John’s most famous beach–the local’s frequently boasted that it was the second most beautiful beach in the world–it boasted stunning views, crystal clear water, white sand and a snorkeling trail around a small island offshore.  I’m happy to say that it definitely delivered.  I was in absolute awe of the place I was submerged in, and Ian faced his fear of the possibility of sharks and other creatures and fell in love with snorkeling.


Ian waving to the GoPro before our first snorkeling adventure…
…and then a thumbs up



After leaving the beach, we returned the Jeep and had dinner at a place called Banana Deck, which had amazing steak and lobster.


We then caught the sunset before catching the ferry back to Saint Thomas and turning in for the night.


Wednesday, we took a tour with our favorite cab driver, Shamari, who mom would later try to convince me that I needed to move to the islands and marry.  The tour covered a lot of the history of Saint Thomas, including the forts built to protect the islands from pirates, Blackbeard’s castle, stories of strong women who fought for fair wages and why they drive on the left (simply put: donkeys).



We then took the winding roads toward the very highest point of the island, dubbed Mountaintop, which also happened to be the birthplace of the banana daiquiri.  The daiquiri featured plenty of one of the island’s main exports, rum.  It was even topped with rum.  I’m more of a whipped cream girl, myself.

On the tour we also stopped at a few waysides to take in the views and meet some friendly donkeys.  This one was graciously named Monica Lewinsky.



Learning about the island’s rich history was very interesting, and the beautiful sights were an added bonus.  That night, we had dinner at Buddha Sushi which was delicious despite some fish eggs.



We loved Saint John so much the first time that we decided to return. We took another ferry, rented another Jeep and some snorkel equipment and set out again toward the national park.  This time we started at a hiking trail that featured the ruins of a sugar cane plantation.




After the hike, we again headed to the beach in search of more snorkeling adventures.  Some locals recommended Francis Bay and Hawksnest Bay to us, so we made our way, starting at Francis.


After seeing countless fish, a barracuda, two sting ray, an eel and a cuttlefish at Francis, we moved on to Hawksnest.


At Hawksnest, Ian and I followed a stingray around for a solid 5 minutes, and mom and Ian saw a sea turtle.  We eventually left the beach, ate more fantastic food, returned the Jeep and took the Ferry back to Saint Thomas.


On our last full day on the island, we went on a snorkeling tour with the resort.  A sailboat brought us to a small off shore island that was promised to be teeming with sea turtles.  image-42image-12

After a good hour of snorkeling and being absolutely beat, we relaxed by the pool until dinner which we had at a more upscale place in Red Hook, a port city.



DAY 6 

On our last day of vacation, we had to check out at 11 am.  However, our flight wasn’t until 5pm, so we killed some time by having a very interesting lunch at Coki Beach where we all received our meals at separate times and spent a good 2 hours waiting.

We also explored a park that had an underwater observatory where you could see the fish in their natural habitat without getting wet!


At around 3, we called our favorite cabbie, Shamari, to take us to the airport and began the journey home.











Mental Health Awareness Month: Improving Your Mental Health

Hello friends!

Even those without mental illnesses can improve their mental health.  Daily stresses are detrimental to everyone’s mental health.  Here are some ways to make yours a priority and always feel your best.

Treat yourself kindly.  Don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes and focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.  Taking time to do the things you love to do and are good at is also a huge part of this that will improve your general happiness.

Sleep well.  The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.  Also, make sure that your sleep is restful.  Turn off your devices, put away other distractions and do your best to destress before heading to bed.  Being well rested is extremely important for keeping stress at bay.  People with chronic insomnia are 15-20% more likely to develop clinical depression (click here to read more).

Fuel your body.  Eating a balanced diet is as important for your mental health as it is your physical health.  Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to effect dopamine and serotonin levels (two hormones known to control mood).  You can get your share of omega-3s from supplements or the old-fashioned way by eating eggs, yogurt, soy milk, flaxseed, peanut butter, oatmeal and seafood such as Tuna, Halibut, Herring, Sardines, Oysters, Salmon and Trout.

Stay hydrated.  The general rule of thumb for adults is to drink 8 cups of water per day.  Because the brain is 75% water, dehydration severely effects the brain.  Even slight dehydration puts a stress on the brain and therefore can effect your mood.  A simple and easy way to make sure your mental health is at its best is to drink water throughout the day.

Give to others.  Whether you donate money and possessions or volunteer your time and energy, giving to those in need is a sure fire way to feel good.

Be realistic.  It is easy to feel down on yourself especially if you are not achieving the things you want to be.  Make sure that your goals are realistic.  If you set small goals that have realistic time periods, you will feel accomplished more often and even have more energy to reach for your bigger goals.

Make time to quiet your mind.  Whether it is prayer, meditation or just simply clearing your mind and relaxing, taking a timeout from the things that you stress over is important.  Make it a point to find a quiet place to just breathe a few times a week.

Have some fun in the sun.  There is a reason why depression rates spike in the winter.  Sunlight is important for your mental health.  The sun supplies you with Vitamin D, which is extremely important for balancing mood.  While summer lasts, take advantage of the sun and be outside whenever possible.  During the darker, gloomier months, you can take Vitamin D supplements.

Get moving.  There is a reason you get a “high” after working out or simply being active with friends.  Exercise promotes mood boosting chemicals in your brain, so if you make being active a part of your routine you will definitely see an improvement in your overall mood.

Set aside time to stress.  This one might seem a little counterintuitive, but set aside a time in your day specifically for worrying.  That way you get it out and the stress doesn’t loom over you all day long.  Make sure you set a time limit for your stressing and also practice coping skills such as deep breathing or physically picturing your worries as an object (ex. balloons) floating away.



My goal for this summer is to focus on these goals to improve my mental health!  Who’s with me?!

Mental Health Awareness Month: Signs of Depression

Hi everyone!  Thanks for stopping by!

Unfortunately, those who are struggling with depression will often not ask for help.  Because of this, it is important that we are educated on what depression looks like in order to offer help without being asked.

Signs of depression include:

  1. Sleeping too little or too much
  2. Poor appetite or extremely overeating consistantly
  3. Little interest or energy put into in his or her appearance
  4. Withdrawal from social activities and general conversation
  5. General loss of interest or motivation to do activities that usually interest them
  6. Beating him or herself up over small things
  7. Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
  8. Lack of emotion towards both positive and negative experiences (numbness)
  9. Mentions of harming themselves or thoughts about death (which often may seem like jokes)
  10. Reckless behaviors such as participating in dangerous activities, excessive drinking or drug use
  11. Restlessness and fidgeting or moving extremely slowly

If you are noticing a change in someone you care about that follow these signs, reach out to them.  Your help may not be accepted right away, but make it clear that you are concerned because you care about them and that you are there for them.  You will most likely need to continuously reach out.  Try spending time with them in ways that don’t directly bring up your concern, as well.  That way they will know that you are sincerely interested in spending time with them because you care for them.


Mental Health Awareness Month: My Story

Hello friends!

May is mental health awareness month!  This month I will be doing a three part series about mental health.  This is the first: my story.  I am somewhat weary of sharing this, and I am only sharing a snippet.  However, I feel that it is important to share in order to help others.

To end the stigma we must be educated on what mental illnesses truly are.  First off, mental illnesses are ILLNESSES.  They are conditions that should be taken seriously and given our attention and resources in order to help.  They have symptoms and treatments like any other illness, and they are not a joke.


I personally have suffered from anxiety disorders and clinical depression throughout my life.  I will stick to talking about these because it is what I have knowledge about.


There are several different anxiety disorders which include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, specific phobias and generalized anxiety disorder.  People may often suffer from a combination of a few anxiety disorders.  Symptoms of anxiety vary from disorder to disorder, but generally anxiety disorders cause people to feel panicked, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, difficulty sleeping, inability to remain still, nausea, digestion issues, shaking and hyperventilation.

In my personal experience, anxiety can be crippling.   It has often times kept me from enjoying my life.  Avoidance goes hand in hand with anxiety, and avoiding has kept me from achieving my goals and has made doing day to day activities extremely difficult.

However, more often than not, my anxiety was not necessary, and remembering that fact makes it easier for me to push through my anxiety in order to live my life.  My advice?  Take a deep breath, count down from 3 and do whatever it is that you need to do.  Once you get going, you’ll begin to forget your anxious thoughts.  It also helps to identify the anxiety as soon as you feel it.  Telling yourself “this is anxiety” helps you realize that it is irrational and there really isn’t that much to worry about.  The more that you stop avoiding and do the things that make you anxious, the easier it will be to continue to live your life.


Symptoms of clinical depression include chronic lack of energy, irritability, loss of interest, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty sleeping or extreme fatigue and oversleeping, restlessness or moving very slowly, significant weight loss or gain and thoughts of suicide.  Not all symptoms are felt by everyone that suffers from depression and a lot of the symptoms obviously contradict each other, so not every case of depression looks the same.

I’ve experienced every symptom listed above.  In one bout of depression, I was unable to sleep or eat.  I lost a lot of weight and slept an average of 2-4 hours per day (even though I spent 99% of my time in bed).  In another bout, I over ate and could not stop sleeping.  I was sleeping about 12-18 hours per day.  Obviously this left little time for me to do anything else like go to school or have a social life.  I had very little interest in doing anything, anyway.

I pushed away the people I cared about and that cared about me, which pushed me deeper into a depression.  I had no motivation to do anything which kept me from working toward my goals.  All of these things created a vicious cycle that kept me feeling horrible.  I was terrified for my future (because of the anxiety), didn’t think I could achieve anything in my future (because of the depression), and therefore did not want to even have a future.


At first, I didn’t want help, but my family forced me into therapy.  The first therapist I went to was not the right fit for me.  I sugarcoated everything and pretended to be perfectly happy, and before I knew it both my therapist and I stopped scheduling appointments.

I then tried to make myself happy by avoiding my problems and covering them up with exciting experiences and material items.  While that worked for a month or two, it didn’t fix anything, and when it came back to the surface it was worse than ever.

Eventually, I sought out help myself.  I went to a therapist that I had researched and thought would be good for me.  (It is important that your therapist is the right fit for you.  If you don’t find her or him on your first try, keep looking.)  This therapist really helped me.  She saw through my sugarcoating and asked questions in a way to get to what was really bothering me.  Most importantly she gave me tools and goals that helped me work through my issues in and out of her office.

The things I did outside of therapy were equally as important to my recovery.  My brother dragged me to church repeatedly hoping that I would find help there.  At first I was resistant, but finally I heard something that hit home, opened myself up to it and let God into my life.  During the sermon that changed my outlook, the pastor used a metaphor comparing Gods word to a seed.  He said that you cannot expect good things to happen to you just by going to church.  You have to work on it just like you’d water and care for a seed in order to grow a garden.  It all clicked in that moment for me and I realized that I could not sit back and wait to feel better any longer.  I had to help myself.  No matter your beliefs, that is a valuable lesson and finding a reason bigger than yourself to live is important.  I got a tattoo of a part my favorite Bible verses, Psalm 40: 1-3, as a reminder that the depression eventually ended and I was happy again so that I can find hope if I ever feel that hopeless again.  The full three verses read, “I waited patiently for the Lordhe inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction”

A big reason I felt so hopeless was that I had no clue what I wanted my future to look like, so as part of my healing I did a lot of exploring and “finding myself” and eventually settled on something that felt right.  Once I was able to start working towards the life I wanted, everything began to turn around.

Also, very importantly, I surrounded myself with people who care about me and make me feel good about myself.  There were countless toxic people in my life that kept me from feeling better.  I finally stopped letting people make me feel horrible and focused on the people who made me happy.

My hope is that sharing some of my story will help those of you who are suffering and do not know how to get help.  Hopefully, you will realize that you are not alone and you will get the energy and determination that it takes to help yourself.

If you are feeling at all hopeless or depressed, first of all know that this is not permanent.  Time will heal you.  I was depressed for about two years and severely depressed for about 11 months.  It felt never-ending, but eventually it did end.  However, time wasn’t the only thing that healed me.  I needed to reconnect with those that I pushed away, and I needed to accept the help.  If you’re feeling depressed, please listen to the people that are trying to help you.  It is hard to talk, but it is necessary.

Never be afraid to ask for help.  If you need someone to talk to, there is always someone willing to listen.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Intervention HopeLine: Call or Text 919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)


12 Things I Wish I Would’ve Learned by 12th Grade


  1. Those “friends” your mom says aren’t your real friends, really aren’t your real friends.  You will realize this eventually, but believe me, your mom can tell a fake friend the moment she sees one.
  2. Pick the school that is right for you.  Pick the one that will do the best things for your future, not the one your friend or that cute boy is going to.  Pick the one that made you excited when you first toured it, not the one that sounds cooler in your Instagram bio.
  3. Only do what you feel is right.  Peer pressure goes much farther than parties and sex.  If your friends are gossiping or speaking poorly about people, you don’t need to participate in those conversations, and more often than not you’ll wish you hadn’t sooner rather than later.
  4. Not all relationship abuse is physical.  It is possible that your boyfriend, girlfriend or your friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend is being abusive without laying a finger on you or her/him!  Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse.  Click here and here for more information and warning signs of emotional abuse.
  5. Don’t say mean things to/about your parents.  The teen years are tough and 90% of the time it feels like your mom “doesn’t get it”, but she does.  She might not completely understand what it is like to be in a group chat with all of her friends or have to keep up snap streaks, but really, the high school experience doesn’t fundamentally change that much over time.  She is looking out for you and your happiness.  Even if you don’t always agree, you have to at least give her credit.
  6. Form good relationships with your teachers. If not for the good advice (and a place to hangout at lunch when you are fighting with your friends–sometimes with candy), at least do it for the letters of recommendation.
  7. Eat. Food is amazing and diets suck and you really aren’t fat at all, so just eat.  (Especially in high school because soon you’ll live in a dorm and have to eat food from the cafeteria for every meal.)
  8. Go to all of those “lame” end of the year senior activities.  You might actually not want to go, or you might be saying that you don’t want to because everyone else is, but just go.  Senior prom is the last chance you’ll get for a while to get all dressed up and hangout with all of your friends.  The bonfires and banquets and class trip will be come memories that you and your fellow classmates will reminisce on for years to come.  Even if you don’t stay close with the people you graduate with, you’ll have great memories of high school to finish it off.  (And you’ll regret it if you don’t.)
  9. Stop comparing yourself to what you see on social media.  I honestly still struggle with this from time to time.  You don’t post photos of yourself on social media at the times when you don’t feel beautiful.  Neither does anyone else.  You cannot compare your Sunday afternoon messy bun and residue from last night’s makeup to someone else’s Friday night full makeup, hair done and heels on (plus probably SO much editing and filters).  Also, realize that you don’t have to do the same things as everyone else.  Everyone else your age might post about going out all the time or their perfect relationship.  However, things you see online are not always exactly what they seem.  The girl who’s profile you check incessantly might actually fight with her friends and her boyfriend daily.  Just because it isn’t on Instagram, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to her just like it does to you.
  10. It’s okay to feel lost. You don’t have to have it all figured out.  You don’t have to know what you want to be when you grow up or even know what you want to do this weekend.  If you feel lost, read this post about my experience finding my way.
  11. Your high school GPA will not matter after graduation.  I bent over backwards trying for a 4.0, and in the end I still only managed to pull off a 3.9987.  But the worst part?  After high school, no one gave a shit.  Then I had to start all over stressing and trying to be perfect again in college 3 weeks later.  However, I was so burnt out from trying so hard in high school that college was even more difficult than it would usually be.  On the other end of the spectrum, if school just isn’t your thing, you can rest easy knowing that no one will care after these four years are over.  Moral of the story: work hard but don’t burn yourself out in the process.  Let yourself breathe.
  12. This is only temporary.  You might love high school or you might hate high school.  Either way, you need to remember that it will be over soon.  Four years go by quickly.  If you are having the worst time of your life, remember that it will be over soon and you can go off and live your life the way you want to.  If you are loving every minute of it, savor the moments.  If you are thriving in your captain spot on the varsity sport team, start thinking about what is next because these 4 years will fly by and that is when your life will really start.

Lastly enjoy these awkward photos of me in high school…



The day I got accepted to my dream school…. and then I went somewhere else so I could be close to a boy (SEE #2!!!)




Why did no one ever teach me about filling in my brows???
My go to outfit for every thing: plain tee and a scarf (and probably jeans with sparkly pockets)


The dark hair phase


I promise “scrunching” your hair and wearing this much eyeliner was cool.
The most cringey of them all…

How I Found My Path and Why You Will Too

When I was in high school, I was extremely driven.  I got straight A’s, studied like crazy, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life… or so I thought.

After graduating, I got very lost.  I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go to school.  I didn’t know what I wanted to major in.  I didn’t even know what I was interested in or wanted to spend my free time doing anymore.  Ages 18 to 20 were very rough years for me.  I lost a lot of friends, and my grades suffered, which eventually lead to me losing a lot of self confidence and overall happiness.

I had always wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or CEO.  I wanted to do something impressive and powerful.  I wanted to do something that I felt used my intelligence, something that not everyone could do.  I wanted to be a successful woman.

I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself.  Nothing I do is ever good enough in my own mind unless it is absolutely perfect (which is something that I’m working on).  I just want to make my family proud.

I also was (and am) a feminist.  I didn’t want a career that my gender confined me to.  However, always, deep down, I knew that I want a family and that I love children.  When I was very little I wanted to be a teacher (if not a princess or something), but even though I still frequently thought about how much I would enjoy teaching, by high school I looked down on the girls that wanted to be teachers.  I thought that they were settling for what society expected of them rather than reaching their full potential.

After spending about a year and a half pretty depressed, I realized that I frequently relied on my little niece, nephew and cousins to cheer me up.  I had always wanted to make a difference in society.  I could do it by breaking the mold and becoming a part of the “boys club” as a doctor, lawyer or CEO, or I could do it by teaching little kiddos that all humans on earth are equal no matter their race, religion, social class or sexual identity and that they all should be treated equally.  I realized that I want to educate students not only about math, reading and history but also about how to treat others, the world and themselves.

However, I still often felt like I was settling.  I thought that by changing my major from Biology with a Pre-Medicine emphasis to Elementary Education I was saying that I wasn’t smart enough to become a doctor, but that is not true at all.  I could become a doctor, but I don’t think I would be the best doctor because I wouldn’t like it.  It is not what I am meant to do.  I know for a fact that I would hate the hours.  I want more than anything to have a family of my own someday, and being a doctor would not allow me to be the kind of mother I want to be.  However, I think that I will make a very good teacher someday (at least I hope) because I am passionate about it and I honestly think that I will enjoy it.

Eventually, I felt confident in my choice and became more and more excited about my future.  I realized that I felt lost because I was never pursuing the career that was really right for me, and now that I have chosen my path, I’ve never been happier or more motivated.  However, I’m grateful for the time I spend lost.  Because of how much I resisted teaching, I feel more confident in my choice.  I chose my career path despite my many reasons not to, and it feels right.

I hope that if you’re reading this and you feel lost, you know that you will find your way.  If you feel like you know what you want to do but are resisting it, give in.  Do what you love no matter the pay or status that comes with it.  If you don’t have a single clue, that is okay.  You’ll be okay.  Explore.  If you don’t find what is right for you right away, at least you’ll find out what you don’t want to do.

– ♥ Alana

21 in 21

Now that I’m 21 years old, there is almost nothing that I cannot legally do (besides rent a car).  In honor of that fact, here are 21 things I want to experience and accomplish in my next 21 years of life (before I am 42):

  1. Go on a girls trip
  2. Ride in a hot air balloon
  3. Invest
  4. Take a cross-country road trip
  5. Read the whole Bible
  6. Pay for a stranger’s meal at a restaraunt
  7. Go backpacking
  8. Attend a black tie event
  9. Volunteer
  10. Build my dream house (or a version of it)
  11. Pay off my student debt
  12. Learn how to fly a plane
  13. Travel alone
  14. Campaign for a politician
  15. Flip a house
  16. Spoil my mom
  17. Host family Christmas
  18. Write a book
  19. Be a mom
  20. Fundraise for a good cause
  21. Travel to all 6 inhabited continents

I hope to keep updating this list with the dates that I accomplished each goal and add links to posts about each one if applicable.  Stay tuned!

– ♥ Alana

It’s My Favorite Day of the Year & 21 Facts About Me.

IT’S MY 21st BIRTHDAY!  As you can imagine, I have a lot of fun things planned, and will do a recap of the weekend here on the blog, soon.  For now, here is a list of 21 things about me you might not know.

  1. I have 5 siblings.  My older sisters; Tara, Tanya, Dana and Andrèa; and younger brother, Ian, are among my best friends.
  2. I’ve attended three colleges and have had 6 majors.  I started at UW – Baraboo two weeks after graduating from high school with a pre-medicine/biology major.  Now, after four semesters at Boo U, a brief one semester in Lacrosse and short periods of time as economics, marketing, communications and pre-law majors, I feel secure with the path I have finally chosen studying Elementary Education and Middle School Math at WSU!
  3. My middle name is Arlene.  It was my maternal grandma’s name.  When I was younger, I hated it.  I thought it made me sound old.  However, now I like it.  It is old fashioned, but I don’t mind.  It makes me feel connected to my grandma even though I never got the chance to meet her.
  4. My taste in music is all over the place.  If you press shuffle on my phone, you might get to listen to r&b, country, alt. rock, rap, throwback radio pop tunes, gospel and classic rock all in 15 mins.
  5. My favorite flowers are pink peonies.  This may have come from my mom or from Blair Waldorf.  I can’t be sure.
  6. I am the world’s pickiest eater.  Many people have said that I eat like a 5 year old.
  7. I wholeheartedly believe in Jesus.  I also wholeheartedly believe in allowing other people to have their own opinions, that love is love, and that religion and politics should be separate.
  8. My favorite movie ever is Clueless.  I could quote it all day, and several people have compared me to Cher.  I like to believe that is because of my fashion sense and go-getter, hopeless romantic personality, rather than my subpar driving skills and frequent blonde moments.
  9. I put all of my energy getting ready into doing my makeup and picking out my outfit, and then I leave the house with wet hair.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest, most of my energy goes into pulling myself out of bed at 6 AM on the average day.
  10. I know every word to every episode of Friends.  I’ve been watching it since I was probably way too young to watch it (the perks of having so many older siblings).  I don’t recommend you ever watch it with me, though.  It gets annoying.
  11. My dream job is to be a mom.  It always has been.  I’ve had more baby dolls than real-life friends.
  12. The key to my heart is 3-wick candles from Bath & Bodyworks.  I get alerts every time they’re on sale (which is most of the time).
  13. I crave to travel and see the world every single day.  Life is for living, and there is so much out there to see.  (Check out the travel category to see posts about where I have been and where I still dream of going!)
  14. As a future teacher, my number one goal is to make sure kids find something that they can be confident in.  I think that it is so, sooo important that students who are not naturally good in traditional academic subjects like math or reading still realize that they are smart in other areas and that they have so much potential.
  15. I have 3 tattoos and counting.  Its true when people say that they are addicting.  I’ll probably run out of viable skin soon.  Sorry mom.
  16. My birthday is my #1 favorite day (lets be real–month) of the year.  So, as you could probably guess, I am HYPED today.
  17. I deeply cherish the time I spend driving alone and listening to music.  Right now, my daily commute is about 45 minutes, and I really think I’m going to miss it when I move closer to school in September.
  18. Soup is my favorite food.  If I’m ever unsure of what to order at a restaurant, 9 times out of 10, I’ll order soup.  Soup is safe.
  19. I doodle obsessively.  I can’t focus on anything unless my hands are busy.  I’ve also recently taught myself to knit for the same reason.
  20. I sometimes eat ketchup on my mac&cheese.  I know.  I’m sorry.
  21. I’m not a big breakfast person.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love me a waffle or a donut, and I’m always down for some bacon (but who said bacon is limited to breakfast?!).  However, I really hate eggs, and in general I would way rather eat stereotypically  lunch or dinner foods for breakfast.  Cold leftover pizza, anyone?

Thank you guys for checking in!  I always appreciate it!  Let me know if you find yourself relating to anything I’ve listed above.

See you soon!

– ♥ Alana

For Your Next Netflix (or Hulu) Marathon…

I’m a self-proclaimed professional binge-watcher and napper.  Basically, I really know how to spend a lazy day.  Below are my favorite shows to watch for hours on end.


Grey’s Anatomy: The earlier seasons are better.

The Office: Everyone’s favorite.  I’m a Kelly.  Sad, but true.

Gossip Girl: S&B forever.  XOXO.

Friends: My all-time fav.

Terms of Endearment: Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove is secretly a softy.

Parks and Recreation: The world needs more Leslie Knopes.

Big Mouth: For those with a darker sense of humor.

Mindhunter: Because who doesn’t wonder what goes on in the mind of a killer?

Scandal: Shonda can do no wrong.

Gilmore Girls: A childhood (& adulthood) favorite.

The Magicians: Leaves you wanting more.  Good thing the next season is coming soon!


One Tree Hill: Calling all Nathan Scotts.

UnREAL: Manipulation and murder all behind the scenes of your favorite reality show.

This is Us: Wear waterproof mascara or watch alone.

The Mindy Project: Remember when I said I’m a Kelly?  I’m also a Mindy.

America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway: Guilty pleasures.

Also Project Runway All-Stars: Making it work for 6 more seasons (and counting).

Rick and Morty: If Big Sean likes it, I like it.


Broad City

The Handmaid’s Tale

The End of the F***ing World