25 Pieces of Advice That Will Change Your Life

Originally posted on February 16th, 2017 on Her Campus UCF.

I was recently told the most life changing piece of advice, that I have included down below, that truly changed my outlook on how I view things. After hearing this, I gained a more positive outlook on life and started to wonder, what other words of wisdom are out there to explore. So I set out to discover what advice others have given or received that has changed their life, and the results captivated me in a way I never knew possible. So here are twenty-five of the most unique outlooks on life, and hopefully some of them change yours as well.

“If you want to be outstanding, you have to live an outstanding life.”

-Kyle M, 20

 “‘Life is short.’ That simple saying has had a huge impact on my life, especially where I am at this point. Ever since those words were said, I have had a new perspective on life. It’s such a simple thing to say, and many people use it as an excuse to do stupid things, but I believe it means so much more than that. Don’t live a life full of regrets and “what-ifs”. Wanna have desert? Have dessert. Wanna make new friends? Put yourself out there. Life is SHORT.”

-Julia F, 18

 “Not everyone you lose is a loss.”

-Ashley W, 18

 “As student body president, I gave the incoming freshman a piece of advice I wish someone had given me when I was a freshman. I told them to not be afraid of failure because the fear of failure can paralyze people and keep them from doing big things.”

-Will S, 19

 “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

-Anna D, 19

“Do as much as you can because you’ll never know your full potential until you reach failure.”

-Josh E, 18

“Whatever is meant to happen, will happen.”

-Samantha Y, 20

 “’Don’t deny yourself the simple pleasures.’ I’m not sure where that originated or how it got into my brain but ever since that piece of advice got itself lodged in the back of my head, I’ve been a lot happier. I don’t deny myself the candy bar in the grocery checkout line or the walks to the mailbox on nice bays. I’ve lived my life very happy and relatively stress free with that saying in my head.”

-Jess R, 20

“We will have faith in you, as long as you have faith in yourself.”

-Megan P, 19

“Don’t forget to floss. Wash your face every night. Be the nicest person in the room. When you think of something nice to do, do it! Don’t delay, just do it, regardless of how it’s recognized or received.”

-Rebecca S

 “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”

-Hunter L, 22

“When I was going through a prolonged period of trying to change career paths, a number of promising leads appeared but dried up. This went on for a while and the sense of just not knowing where I would end up was taking a toll. My sister said to me, ‘Just think about where you are now and the work you are doing. Five years ago, you couldn’t have imagined doing any of it. It wasn’t even on your horizon and yet here you are. I have no doubt that five years in the future you will be doing work that right now you can’t even imagine and it will be great.’ Somehow taking the long term perspective was enough to get me through the interim churn and frustration. And she was right!”

-Lisa B

“Don’t f*ck up.”

-Hallie B, 18

 “Don’t let the day run you, you have to run your day!”

-Gabriella M, 18

“Whenever you are upset or angry about something, try to think about whether or not it will matter a year from now. It really puts things in perspective and helps you get back to being happy quicker!”

-Claire J, 20

“Six months might seem like a long time right now, but years down the road when you look back on yourself, it will feel like nothing. Don’t miss out on any opportunities right now because you are scared of missing out on six months of your life. Just because it’s not part of ‘your plan’, doesn’t mean it’s something worth losing. Take everything that is handed to you, because you’re only young once and you don’t want to look back and wonder ‘what if’.”

-Lena D, 18

 “Thank the people who have hurt you in the past because they are the reason you are so strong today!”

-Alexa I, 20

“Measure your own success and have a rich and wealthy life. Don’t worry about the material things. What really matter at the end is to be rich with love, surrounded by a loving family, and a wealth of loving friends!”


 “You owe yourself the love you give to give to everyone else.”

-Samantha Y, 20

“Recognize yourself in your overall personal goals.”

-Brennan V, 18

“Another woman’s beauty is not the absence of your own.”

-Shannon L, 23

 “I’m about to graduate from college and, naturally, have spent some time throughout my years struggling with school. I usually always try to get A’s but sometimes that doesn’t happen and it usually devastates me. In my last conversation with my favorite relative, my great-uncle Wayne, before he passed away, he said, “Just get the degree!” That feels especially relevant right now in the middle of midterms of this quarter!”

-Cayenne E, 22

“Spend money on experiences, not objects.”

-Julia T, 18

 “Focus on making yourself proud of you.”

-Justin J, 18

 “Knowledge is the most important thing in life- You can never learn too much about anything, ever. The second most important thing is fashion.”

-Nicole W, 18



One Year of Happiness, New Opportunities, and Sub-par Satire

Happy Birthday to me..er this blog!! It’s crazy that just 52 weeks ago, I sat down with a laptop and an idea, and completely changed my life. A lot has happened in a year; I’ve experimented with many different styles of writing, looks of the web-face, and content to upload, but I couldn’t be happier with where this blog is now and all the the things to come in the future.

When I started my blog, I wasn’t sure how dedicated I would be. I had an idea, but like most, I spent a week devoting all my time to it, and thought it would fall into the void, aka where all my unfinished projects go to die. But I surprised myself with this baby, and I was able to maintain it which surprised myself more than anyone. So here we are with my 52nd post and I’m amazed.

Originally titled Chasing Myself, I had an idea to document my life through one of the craziest and excited times. My transition from high school to college was an incredible one, and provided lots to elaborate on. I truly was chasing myself and chasing my dreams. As the year progressed, I was able to catch up to my dreams, which is an incredible feeling, but left me in a predicament with my blog’s title. Ah, a major millennial crisis. Luckily I came up with an ingenious solution, my name. I know, I know, how does she do it? And thus Lena Dani was born and harbored to hold all of my creative juices.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought I were a writer, I would have laughed in your face. But after spending a summer jotting down ironic sentences about my uneventful life, I started to gain confidence in myself. It gave me the motivation to apply to write for an online campus magazine, Her Campus UCF, that is now one of the most important activities in my life. I was able to experiment with different subjects and topics and write about things that other people could relate to. It even inspired me to declare a minor in the Mass Communications field, so that I can use my hobby to help my career.

Creating this blog a year ago changed me for the better. In addition to opening up countless doors, it gave me something to be excited about. Writing has become my number one stress reliever, and running this blog has been extremely therapeutic for me. I’ve been able to meet so many cool people who also love what I love and bounce inspiration off of each other.

Yeah, I might not have a following of thousands praising my every word, but the handful of people those who do read my writing and support me show so much love. I might not take over the internet with my record breaking views on each article, but if I can make at least one person proud, even if that person is myself, I’ve succeeded.

I can’t wait to see what the future brings for both this blog, and the other internet outlets I have branched into to share my work. It’s been an amazing year, and I want to extend more thanks than you could ever imagine to those of you who do read my work. You mean the world to me, and thanks for sticking through the hundreds of typos. I would say “I love Lena Dani” but that sounds a tish narcisistic, so I’ll just end with “I love my blog and I love my fans!”


Fall in Love With the Word “Love”

Originally posted on February 7th, 2017 on Her Campus UCF.

The word “love” is often feared due to the pressure of emotional attachment. Most would agree that the only thing scarier than falling in love, is finding out that you are not loved back. But what does that mean exactly? Well to one person, it might mean that the guy they’ve been crushing on doesn’t have mutual feelings. For others, it might mean that no matter how much time and effort they put into a friendship, it might not be reciprocated. On the contrary, it could be less severe and mean that the puppy you’ve been admiring in the park wants no part of your attention.

Each of these scenarios lead to drastic changes in how it affects your mood. These downers could last from minutes to months, depending on the weight of the situation. That lead me to wonder why. Why do all of these situations inquire unique changes in one’s mood if they are all based on love? It’s because love is one of the most powerful emotions in existence, and holds the ability to manipulate feelings in thousands of different ways. Simply, no two loves are the same.

If you asked me my opinion on love six months ago, I would have broken down in tears. Fresh out of my first relationship, I was convinced that the two years I spent in it were all fraud. But time goes on and people change, and the growth made is the most important thing that could happen. Two and a half years ago, my best friend at the time turned into my first boyfriend. Still awkward teenagers, fresh out of puberty, our 14 and 15 year-old selves didn’t know what we were getting into. We made mistakes, and we fixed them, but we never knew how to love.

“Love” was a term that we tossed around like a softball, letting it come up whenever and as often as possible. It seemed sweet and endearing, and was always the perfect phrase to use to solve all of our arguments. Yet because of this, its meaning got smaller and smaller with every use. There is nothing wrong with expressing emotion, but throwing it around in the wrong context gave it a new meaning to us. The word holds such a power that is deserves much, much more than this.

I do believe I was in love during my first relationship. We cared about each other and were each other’s best friends. Yet every love is different and I would not use the same word to compare my previous relationship and my current one. As I have grown in the past three years, I have brought the word “love” on the journey with me. Each love is different, as the word holds such a powerful position in society. I love puppies. I love Disney World. I love my family. I love my friends. But I don’t love them all in the same way. It’s incredible that such a term has been used to compare passion towards a human being, as well as a favorite food. Which leads me to believe that the word is one that is ever changing.

I was happily in love in my past relationship at the time. I am happily in love in my current relationship now. Yet these two loves are the farthest things from similar. The love I felt in the past is nowhere near as raw and as emotional as the love I feel now, yet that doesn’t invalidate how I felt in a specific moment 15 months ago. Maybe it’s a factor of time, but I’m a firm believer in the evolution of vocabulary.

The love your best friend shows to their boyfriend is a different love that they show you, yet the power the word holds remains equivalent. Love is powerful and everyone is lucky enough to experience it in it’s different forms each and every day. Don’t let the stigma of the word scare you from expressing your true feelings towards anything and everything. Love your pet. Love your favorite pasta dish. Love your grandmother. Love your fuzzy socks. Love your kindergarten teacher. Love your boyfriend or girlfriend. Love yourself. But most importantly, don’t be scared of the word “love”. It’s powerful, but you hold the right to acknowledge it in whichever means necessary to fall in love with the word “love”.


Gloomy Day, Bright Art

How can you tell that it’s time for the Three Rivers Arts Festival? Wait for the rainiest week in June!

Yesterday Josh and I ventured out into the pouring rain to take in one of my favorite events in Pittsburgh, the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Here’s the lowdown: 10 days of free art and music with over a hundred booths set up by local artists. Oh yeah, and the most important part is all the amazing food you can get! I try to go at least once every year (and even wrote about last year’s adventure here) so I’m super excited to share what I encountered this year!

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset
Like I said, it was super gloomy and rainy, which didn’t make for the ideal weather. But luckily we are used to Florida, and have learned not to melt in the rain. Plus, this cute art exhibit doubled as protection from the treacherous downpour that was happening around us.

As we made it to the food, the sun came out and provided a perfect afternoon for us. I dropped way too much money on tater tots, but what else is new? I’m pretty sure my meal weighed at least five pounds, so that’s worth it in my book!

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset
We ventured down to the Point to take some quick pictures before heading back to take in the amazing talent. (Speaking of talent, look how cool these photos turned out! Josh’s photography game is strong.)

It’s not an arts festival if you don’t drop a lot of money, so I made sure to pick something up as a keepsake!

I hope to make it back down once more before it ends this weekend so I can snab some coveted deep fried Oreos and overpriced festival lemonade!

Until next time!


May’s High Five

Every month we step into a new body as we discover new things that make us happy. Sure, it might not be a flip of the switch on the the first day of each month, but it’s no secret that our interests are constantly changing.

So I introduce to you, my new monthly segment about things that made me smile the past thirty-or-so days, and put me at an all time high of happiness. Hopefully some of you can relate, or explore some of my favorites!

Here are five different categories that might stick in stone, or fluctuate throughout time, depending on what life brings me. I hope these open the doors for you to try new things!


Okay okay, feel free to chastise me on this all you want, but I recently started binging Glee on Netflix and it is so much better than I expected it to be. Trust me, I make fun of myself every time I talk to my friends about it, but the music is always amazing, the story lines really dig deep and hit a lot of important topics, and the high school drama is always fun to watch unfold in front of you. If you’re looking for a new show and never saw it when it originally aired, I highly recommend it! It will bring back all those late 00s feels.

Social Media

So I recently decided to emerge myself in the Disney community even deeper than I was before, and I followed a ton of accounts on Instagram that really embody the spirit of the parks. Plus, filling my feed with pictures of WDW really cures the void in my heart from not being there all summer long. Here are five accounts that really stuck out to me. Some of them are super aesthetically pleasing, some of them create some amazing merchandise, and others are just downright funny and always bring a smile to my face through their pictures and captions! If you like what you see, make sure to check them out!

Such a cute design company with an even cuter mascot! Who could argue with a pupper with a dream?

Becca is my go-to Instagram, blog, and life inspiration. Her cute pics lead me to live my life with a what-would-becca-do mindsight!

Emma just started her DCP journey and I love living vicariously through her ridiculously adorable pictures!

I’ve never been to Disneyland, but this blue sky aesthetic has me ready to book a flight to California ASAP!

The life of a cast member, PLUS an amazingly beautiful feed? What more could a girl ask for! She also brand reps for amazing companies, and styles the Tees so well!



While being home might possibly be the most boring thing I’ve experienced in a while, I’ve been able to pick up a few hobbies to keep me busy. The first has been journaling. My blog has been an amazing way to express my thoughts, but after receiving a journal, I decided that it would be a great way to start writing down more private memories. Sometimes I write everyday, sometimes I skip a week. The great thing is that there are no rules and it’s perfect for me to vent to or expand on the smaller joys in life.

I also discovered my love for pen to paper contact, so with $40 in hand, I purchased the cutest stationary I could find, along with a variety of colored pens – so began my journey on the art of writing letters. Sure we have phones and stuff, but the joy of getting a letter addressed to you in the mail is one that is dying out, so I figured it would be a great way to stay in touch with my college friends this summer!

When I want to hop back into the 21st century, I grab my laptop and work on editing videos for my YouTube channel. I’m not very good at it yet, but practice makes perfect, and reliving all my memories from the spring semester is super fun to watch!


Most call Taco Bell their guilty pleasure, or reserve it for late night cravings, but lately I’ve called it my second home. Yes, I’m brave to admit this, but something about the Spicy Potato Taco just makes me so happy. And the fact that it’s only $1 makes my wallet smile back at me. So what that I’ve been there every day this past week, I don’t have a problem…


Ahh, my top five memories from the month of May. This is totally going to be bittersweet.

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset5/2/17 The first memory that stands out to me is a sad one, and it was the day I moved out of my dorm in college and began my journey home to Pittsburgh. Although the ride home itself was a blast, it was sad to say goodbye to UCF and all of my friends there.

5/3/17 Returned home! I was reunited with my family and my puppy and I was so excited to see them. I was also so surprised with the renovation of my bedroom that I promise I will never be leaving until the end of summer.

5/16/17 Josh took me out on a lovely date to dinner followed by a visit to the local dog parks. It was a perfect substitute to our usual Petland dates back in Orlando. Afterward we relaxed in the park and watched the sunset, before returning home and binging Criminal Minds.

Processed with VSCO with s1 preset

5/17/17 Another date (k)night with Josh: and we celebrated eight months together. We headed downtown to the Pirates game and it brought us back to the great memories of heckling at the UCF Baseball games. It was a ton of fun hanging out in our city together and made me super excited for future dates this summer.

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

5/23/17 A spontaneous concert night that you can read about here, and an amazing time catching up with friends. Mumford and Sons put on a helluva show and it was a great night to dance around in the rain.

So there ya have it, a bunch of things that really made me happy this past month! I hope I was successful in sharing the positive vibes, and if not, lie to me and pretend I was. Feel free to share some of the things that made you smile recently because I’m always looking for positive recommendations!


The Balance Between Showing Affection and Being Clingy

Originally posted on December 21st, 2016 on Her Campus UCF.

The age old question anyone in a new relationship asks themselves before saying/doing anything remotely romantic is “Will they they this is cute or am I moving too fast and making things creepy?” Okay maybe it’s not an age old question and maybe it’s not worded like that exactly, but the idea is still there. How soon is too soon to say/do/act a certain way around your significant other?

Like a snowflake, each relationship is different from the one before or after it. What may have worked for your roommate might give the exact opposite reaction for your SO. So with that in mind, any relationship advice received must be taken with a grain of salt. Which leads us back to the confusing topic at point, how to show affection without weirding out your partner.

In any new relationship, it’s hard to get a grasp for how your partner handles different situations. The beginning stage is made for getting to know each other and always wearing your best smile, because you’re not ready to drop your baggage on their doorstep, expecting them to take it all in. The beginning is also made for cutesy flirting, and caring remarks showing that you appreciate being with this person. Obviously it’s hard to weigh out when this stage ends and a different level of affection begins. Some say that when the “L bomb” is dropped that a gate opens up allowing the relationship to flourish in new ways. Others say when intimate moments are shared physically is when it’s time to share intimate moments emotionally. But again, every relationship is different.

It’s hard to find the balance because you are so focused on making your significant other happy, as well as yourself. New relationships are full of surprises, and anything that could cause irritation or drama is immediately pushed away. Something magical is happening, therefore the two of you want to stay happily with each other as long as possible.

It’s hard to weigh this out in a long term relationship, let alone a fresh one, so it’s important to keep in mind a few things:

Don’t let how you acted in past relationships haunt you into acting a certain way now. This means that just because your independent ex from high school called you clingy, means that your new boyfriend feels the same way about your actions. Each person you date has different opinions on how they would like to be treated, so the best way to figure out how to act is to communicate.

There is no arbitrary timeline of how and when to act in a relationship. Just because Jenny and Bill did such and such two months in doesn’t mean you need to too. If you feel that something is moving too fast, or not fast enough, it’s up to you and your partner to reflect and talk about, not a decision based on outsiders.

Be yourself. If you want to send cute texts throughout the day and surprise them with random acts of kindness, do it. If you’re at the store and see something that reminds you of them, don’t be scared to send them a pic or even purchase it. Everyone loves being thought of, and if you’re holding back because you think that they will think you’re moving too fast, you both lose out. You never know what little thing you do could put a smile on their face. If it’s genuine from your heart, they will appreciate it. And if they don’t, it wasn’t meant to be.

New relationships are both exciting and scary because everything you learn about a person is a new surprise. Don’t let the fear of being clingy stop you from showing that you care. A small thought here or there can make someone’s mood change for an entire day and cause your relationship to flourish to new levels. If you ever feel that you might be taking things a step too far, too soon, ask your partner because they are the only ones who can give you the feedback you need to succeed. If you two truly care about each other, every moment will be one full of affection and happiness.


Spring Adventures in Disney

My time spent at Disney World has been nothing short of amazing these past couple months! After purchasing an annual pass and being able to experience the parks on a weekly basis, I’m fortunate enough to call the resort my second home. 

I’ve been able to experience all of the attractions, multiple holidays, and countless memories; and I’m excited to share them all with you! I’ve been compiling footage of all the exciting days spent at the parks, with so many different friends, for my YouTube channel. I tried out vlogging (and surprisingly enjoy it) after notice of my acceptance to the Disney College Program.

I plan to record while I’m down there so my friends and family, and anyone with an internet connection, can check out what I’m doing and stay up to date with my life. Until then, I’ve begun practicing to get all the awkward out of my system (if that’s even possible) by vlogging. After sorting through hours of footage, I found some of my favorite moments and compiled them all together for you!

Here are my favorite spring memories in Disney World, surrounded by my friends, pop music, and a lot of dancing! I had so much fun living these memories, and even more fun reliving them while compiling this together and I’m super happy with how it turned out!

I hope you like it just as much as I do! Click here to check it out!

Son of a Mumford

If you’ve been following along with my life thus far, you might have noticed that I really like going to concerts. I like them enough that I even end up writing about them. Since last summer, I’ve more than doubled my concert count, and each one is better than the next; especially spontaneous ones.

I’ve had my fair share of both preplanned-months-in-advance concerts, where every little detail is planned out and perfected, leading up to the moment the opener steps foot on stage. Yet lately, thanks to my hectic college lifestyle, I’ve gotten used to the luxary of “going with the flow” and taking things as they come. Most recently, that included taking some Mumford & Sons tickets from a friend a mere hours before the concert.

A band I’ve never seen before, at a venue I’ve never been to before, with a girl I’ve deemed my “concert buddy” sounded like an amazing adventure. And with a small price to pay of $25 and dancing our butts off in the rain, I was set.

Steering wheel in hand, I ventured an hour away and shoved that driving anxiety out the window as we jammed our way to the venue. After dealing with the largest parking lot in the world, and one lane of traffic inching its way through, we were ready. 

Somehow we made it to the front of the lawn, even though we arrived halfway through the opener. I believe it’s because we are destined to always be barricade, so the concert gods looked down on us and blessed us with good spots. The music began and we let loose.

Overall it was a very chill night, as far as concerts go. I left the glitter at home, wallet in the car, and even watched the show instead of recording the entire thing on my phone, and it was a ton of fun. Mumford & Sons is an amazing group and really brought great vibes with them to the sold out arena…er, field. 

Sometimes it’s just as much worth it to keep concert nights on the down low, as it is to hype them up all summer. I’m personally a fan of both actions, and will continue to wait in general admission lines for hours upon end. 

It was a great way to start the summer, and I’m excited to see what other adventures await me ahead!

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Originally posted on December 21st, 2016 on Her Campus UCF.

So your first semester of college has come and gone and you’re still sitting there wondering when you’re going to meet “the one?” No, not the boy of your dreams that you imagine running away into the sunset with, but your female counterpart that will take on the role of your bestie for the rest of your life. The one who will be by your side for all your crazy antics the next four years and still be there with you when you tell your kids about the good times you two had in college.

Everyone has always talked about how you meet your true friends in college, yet if youre reading this, it’s possible that somehow this moment hasn’t happened yet. It’s confusing, of course, because it seems like everyone around has hooked on to someone and began creating endless memories, and looking around, you feel like a lost puppy. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It might not always make sense. In a school with a population of over 60,000 it might seem impossible to find the one person you connect with the most. With so many people around constantly, it’s hard to branch out and talk to new people. We’ve all been in situations where we don’t know how to initiate conversations. And it’s even harder if you’re like me and the fear of embarrassing yourself outweighs your willingness to reach out to people.

The internet has fueled most of my social interactions thus far in college. All of my current friends I have met because I began talking to them online before even moving in in August. I built up virtual friendships that allowed our first interactions to seem more comfortable. It was a blessing and a curse. As I built these friendships, my online persona shined, while my real life outgoingness dissipated. After the first month of classes, I realized that I had yet to branch out from these online friendships, and it seemed too late to make new friends. Everyone already had their groups set up and no one wants to be an outsider. Although I too had a group of friends I could rely on, it seemed to be a mish-mash of people that reflected different parts of my persona and didn’t particularly interact as fluidly as a group. I had yet to make that instant connection with any one in particular, leaving me longing for more friends.

The semester came and left and I was still too shy to branch out from the safety of the group that was already established. They are amazing friends, yet I don’t feel the comfort that I expect when I see other friend groups on Instagram of Facebook. I know it’s silly to judge yourself based of of other social media posts, but its almost impossible to avoid in this day and age.

I see posts from people I hung out with once or twice and instantly regret not making more plans with them. The friend crushes evolve as I become more and more greedy in the friend department. I start second guessing how I can join activities to make friends and how I can socialize more in the organizations I’m already a part of. The gears in my brain keep turning until I finally burst from exhaustion thinking about all of this as I realize an important discovery.

It may seem like you’re all alone in this search for a best friend, as if everyone around you is locked down. But there are so many people out there who are in the same boat as you, on your campus, in your town, and across the country. The first semester at a new college brings more challenges and adjustments than you’ve probably ever experienced, but that’s no reason to lose hope. With each new semester, there are new experiences that allow you to meet people. It might seem intimidating to sign up for something alone, but showing up alone gives you an excuse to mingle and talk to new people. It might seem like your being a bother by talking to the person sitting next to you on your first day of class, but you never know if they could be your new best friend. Exchange names, numbers, snapchats, Instagram usernames, you name it. Just make sure you keep up with staying in contact. You can’t make friends if you don’t try.

Next time you see someone that you want to hang out with’s name pop up on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, slide into their DM’s in the most platonic way possible and set up a lunch date or a study session. The more interactions you have with someone, the stronger your friendship grows. Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t found your person yet, i’m in the same boat as you. Just challenge yourself to be more outgoing in the upcoming semester. It’s going to be difficult for me too, but we are all in this together.


What I Learned After A Month Without Makeup

Originally posted on December 6th, 2016 on Her Campus UCF.

Like most middle school girls, I began experimenting with makeup at a young age. Always eager to grow up, it provided me with the illusion that I was a grown up. At such a young age, I became dependent on painting my face to create a mask of pseudo beauty. Since the age of twelve, I have refused to leave my house without the bare minimum of makeup in fear that someone would see my fresh face. I became self-conscious without my mascara and perfectly winged eyeliner and spent the past six years of my life hiding behind the safety of makeup. I admired those who could balance both and change it up depending on if they felt lazy or not; but even on my worst days, I made sure to get up in order to do my hair and makeup because god forbid I am seen for who I truly am.

Yet this all changed starting a month ago. As we entered the month of November, I challenged myself to go the whole month without an ounce of makeup. Yet cutting it out of routine completely was slightly too extreme for me. So I decided to cut it out of my routine for a majority of the month, with the exception of four days scattered throughout, to see if I could do it.

I figured I’d keep it up for couple of days before babying out and going back to normal, yet I decided to try it anyway. It was a strange feeling to wake up in the morning and greatly modify my routine that I have been using for a third of my life. Looking in the mirror, I saw someone I didn’t recognize. My freckled were visible, my eyelashes were stubby, and the dark circles stood out under my eyes. I wasn’t comfortable with the sight, but refused to let myself get worked up about it. As I went on with my day as usual, I felt the need to apologize to everyone I came across for looking dead. To my surprise, most people didn’t notice, and those who did complimented my fresh faced look.

The first week was the hardest because I wasn’t used to walking past mirrors and not recognizing myself. I didn’t feel as self-conscious as I thought I would until I opened my Snapchat camera and immediately tried to hide my face with a filter. But, the positives outweighed the negatives. As the month went on, I felt my skin clearing up. I was able to shave 45 minutes out of my morning routine which allowed me to get more sleep. I was able to rub my eyes without fear of ruining my eyeliner. I stopped curling and straightening my hair everyday and fell in love with the way my natural hair looked. Sure I was self-conscious at first, but I learned to love myself more in a natural state which really boosted my self-esteem.

On the few occasions that I actually did wear makeup, it felt foreign to me. I used the same routine that I had in the past, yet I felt like I had caked on too much. After seeing nothing but my fresh face for weeks on end, it felt strange to be all done up and I felt like I was overdoing it even though it was the look I had always done in the past. My friends were supportive of me and although I wasn’t always comfortable in my skin, this taught me that looks aren’t everything.

In this month I learned that looks aren’t everything, and although I have always been invested in my appearance, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I clearly didn’t have faith in my looks. After not wearing makeup or obsessing over my hair for a month, I became much more accepting of myself, and others who choose not to wear makeup. I am relieved to be able to wear mascara again, but I no longer feel dependant on wearing a full face of makeup.

It is a nice feeling to finally be comfortable with my natural look, but I won’t continue doing it everyday of my life. I love experimenting with makeup and trying new looks, and I did miss out on that for the past month, but I am so glad that I did. I learned to love myself, which is the most important thing to do.

I highly recommend anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable to step out of their comfort zone and try this. You don’t have to jump in head first like I did, but try it for even a day or a week and you’ll be amazed by the results.

I love wearing makeup, and now I love that I have the courage to go out without anything on my face.