Gifts For Yourself (Because You Deserve Them)

Reading time: 3 minutes

Gift season is almost upon us, but before you go all out and splurge on gifts for friends and family to make up for this year that should really just be erased from the history books, remember to also treat yourself.

I'm super guilty of spending a lot of money on other people but then getting real Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to spending on myself, but here are some things I've splurged on all for myself, and I honestly have ~no regertz~ that I did.

Skincare products
Quality skincare products tend to be pricey, but they are absolutely worth it if you find some that work for your skin. Besides, your skincare routine, at least for me, is the two times a day I get to really unwind, so why not go all out?

Bath products
Another gift of relaxation is for bath time. Think bath bombs, soaks, salts, soaps, bubbles, and oils or a combination of a few, depending on your specific need at the time. My go-to is an unscented bubble bath that I then add essential oils to.

If you're an avid reader, you probably find that reading is one of the most relaxing activities. Even better is to have a stack of books waiting for you, so treat yourself to some new books. Browse a (virtual) bookstore, look up some lists, or ask some friends for suggestions.

Satin pillowcases
I think we know by now that satin pillowcases are better for your hair and skin when compared to cotton pillowcases, so not only do satin pillowcases look and feel waaay better, they keep your hair free of frizz and your skin free of wrinkles, so make the switch when you can!

An oil diffuser
Another way I use essential oils is in my diffuser. If you don't have time for a full-blown bath, putting the essential oils you need in a diffuser is a great alternative. Splurge on one that has a timer function so that you can run it as you fall asleep without worrying about it overheating or something.

By jewelry, I mean those fancy ones that hurt your bank account but can last you ages like a 1 carat diamond ring. Of course, just because you can, it doesn't mean you should. You should still work within a comfortable budget. For example, now that I'm wearing earrings more, I'm thinking of treating myself to some fancy earrings when I reach my next milestone like finishing a big work project ahead of schedule or something.

A quality mattress
This one would probably be the most expensive on this list because who knows why mattresses are so gd expensive. With that being said, though, you literally use your mattress every single day (or you should, at least), so why not make those hours of sleep count? A good night's sleep does wonders.

What gifts do you usually buy for yourself?
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Are You Stuck in a Rut?

Reading time: 3 minutes

Do you feel like you’ve been stuck with nowhere to go for some time? Life seems to have gelled into place and it’s not necessarily a place you want to linger for too long? A lot of people fall into a rut without realizing how they got there and sometimes they don’t even realize what the rut is. Let’s think about what the issue might be, and what you can do to get out of it.

Are you burned out?

You might be bored, to put it simply. If you’ve been focusing a lot on your education or career as of late, it’s no surprise if you feel your motivation and energy levels bottoming out. Burnout is a lot more common than you might think and it almost always results from pushing yourself too hard and not allowing yourself a little fun. Take some time off work when you can see if you can discover a new hobby that lets you shake off the stress of your responsibilities once in a while.

Are you overwhelmed by your finances?

Of course, enjoying more hobbies, especially things like eating out and traveling, can be difficult if you don’t have the finances for it. So, too, can all kinds of meaningful life changes be more difficult, from moving home to getting a car. If you’re feeling trapped by your current financial obligations, systems like the Debt to Success System BBB may be able to help. So much of social and lifestyle mobility is tied to our financial situation, so you need to take the time to fix your finances if you want to make meaningful life changes.

Are you tired of your career?

Modern society focuses a lot on not just who we are and how we live, but what we do for a living. As such, we get socialized to place a lot of importance in our career and, when it’s going in an upward trajectory, it can affect us more deeply than we even realize. To that end, it may be worth taking the time to find a meaningful career path and discover what kind of education and training you may need to make. There’s no time limit on changing your career, but the longer you wait, the harder it can be to transition.

Are you dissatisfied with your personal life?

One of the harder things to accept is when your personal and social relationships are no longer fulfilling you in the way that they used to. Socializing can be more difficult as we get a little older, but that doesn’t mean that it’s possible. There are apps designed to help you find people with the same interests like Meetup, not to mention a huge range of dating apps out there to help you shake up your romantic life. It’s just all about finding the right ones.

There are no simple solutions to getting out of a rut. However, the hardest step is admitting that you’re dissatisfied and recognizing what the source is. Once you do that, it’s as simple as working out the solution.

How do you pull yourself out of a rut?
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Why Collagen is the Best Beauty Ingredient

Reading time: 3 minutes

In the beauty world, you'll come across all sorts of products with all kinds of ingredients. Some of these ingredients are a bit rubbish, while others are downright dangerous. You'll be stunned to see how many harmful chemicals are in a lot of beauty products, doing more harm than good. 

Collagen is one of the few ingredients that's worth paying special attention to. In fact, it's the best beauty ingredient you can find. As a swift description, collagen is a type of protein found in your body. It has many functions, but the main one is to help provide structure to your skin. In essence, this makes your skin a lot firmer and more elastic. Already, you can see why this ingredient is so special. Still, let's expand on things by looking at a few other reasons.

Collagen is multifunctional

Collagen can be used in three main ways:
  • As an ingredient in a topical treatment
  • As a component of an injectable treatment
  • By activating it under your skin

The first option is simple: buy creams or serums with collagen as an active ingredient, then apply to your face. For the second one, you go to cosmetic surgery and get injected with collagen. Thirdly, you can find cosmetic surgeons that offer things like microneedling. I know you're wondering what's microneedling, and the simple answer is that it's a treatment that triggers collagen production. Essentially, you activate the collagen under your skin, which encourages it to reproduce and help your skin. So, you have many choices in deciding how you want to use collagen for its beauty benefits. 

Collagen is natural

Collagen is natural! It isn't a chemical compound that somebody has manufactured in a lab. It isn't an ingredient that people have conjured up out of nowhere and tested on multiple animals. It's a naturally occurring protein that all human beings produce in their bodies. This makes it entirely safe for anyone to use. You don't have to worry about any side effects when you utilize collagen; it just does its job!

Collagen works

There's no debate over if collagen will help your skin or not - it simply works. You can find many medical and scientific studies that back this up. Unlike other beauty ingredients, you know that you will see positive results when using collagen. It makes your skin firmer, healthier, and more resilient to wrinkles. It can also help keep your hair in excellent condition and prevent it from falling out. 

As a general rule, if a beauty product or treatment includes collagen, it will help you out. Of course, you should make sure there aren't any harmful chemicals or nasty ingredients alongside the collagen. Also, for serums and creams, look at the concentration of collagen in the product. If it's a tiny amount, you won't see many benefits. The bottom line is that this is the main ingredient in the beauty industry to keep your eye on. If you want healthy skin and hair, you can't go wrong with collagen.

What are some of your experiences with collagen?
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4 Reasons Gift Baskets Are Underrated

Reading time: 2 minutes

Giving a gift isn’t the hardest thing in the world, but it’s certainly not a very simple task especially if you’re trying to impress your recipient. Thankfully, there are a couple of simple gift ideas that are virtually foolproof. One such idea is to buy a gift basket of goodies that you know they’ll enjoy. Of course, it takes a bit of research to see what your recipient likes, but once you’ve passed that hurdle, it should be easy for you to pick a suitable gift basket and send it to them as a practical and personalised gift.

But isn’t buying a premade gift basket a little boring? Surprisingly not! In this post, we’ll explain four good reasons why gift baskets are a fantastic idea and why you shouldn’t feel ashamed about giving one to a friend or family member.

You can gift a bunch of small things

Gift baskets are great because they package lots of small items into a single basket. It usually takes a lot of time to source different items and you also need to consider packaging them into a nice box or basket to give to your recipient. It’s actually a lot easier to just buy a gift basket that already contains the items. You might be paying a little more than the sum of all the individual items, but you’re paying for convenience which is the main attraction.

You can gift things you're not familiar with

If you have a general idea of what your recipient likes but you’re not a hundred percent sure about their preferences, then a gift basket is usually a safe bet that allows you to give several gifts that are related. For example, Hawaiian gifts can include different Hawaiian delicacies, snacks and gifts that are unique to the region. Similarly, a chocolate lover’s gift basket will include lots of unique things that are sure to impress your recipient more than buying a standard box from the supermarket.

You can send them from the comfort (and safety) of home

We know that putting together a gift basket and sending it can be a lot of hassle. Thankfully, you can buy premade gift baskets and send them directly to your recipient with a personalised note. This is a lot more convenient than going through the whole process yourself and the shipping usually works out to be cheaper and a lot less work.

You can gift them for all occasions

Whether you’re showing friends that you care about their birthday or need a quick gift for a seasonal occasion like the holidays, gift baskets can be used for all kinds of situations and it’s not restricted to certain recipients. They can even come in a wide range of different themes and you’ll be spoilt for choice on what kind of gift basket you want to send. Whether it’s a friend, family member, partner or even your kids, there’s a gift basket that’s suitable for everyone.
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4 Ways to Show Your Friends You Care

Reading time: 2 minutes 53 seconds

In this life, we need to focus on ourselves a lot and build ourselves up. We need to become the best possible version of ourselves. If we have lots of value, then we’re going to feel so much better day-in-day-out. Having high value also makes us a lot more attractive, which is very helpful in many aspects of life – personally and professionally. It’s important to have discipline and to knuckle down with regard to our career and to our personal life – if we don’t and instead choose to slack off, we’ll regret it in the long-run.

That doesn’t mean we should be completely self-absorbed individuals, though. There’s plenty of room to take care of others and to put energy into those close to us. In life, we need to have people we care about by our side – we are a tribal species, after all.

Doing things for our friends and family members not only allows that bond to tighten, but it also just feels great. The mirroring feeling of making someone happy is strangely rewarding. You probably know a thing or two about being a wonderful friend, but if you’re not exactly sure what you can do to show you care for them, then here are some ideas:

Really listen to them

If someone has something they want to get off their chest, the worst thing you can do is sigh or show a lack of interest. Venting is important as it allows someone to relieve a lot of stress. It’s also great for that person as you may be able to help solve their problem. Listening is so important and it tightens the bond you have with that person. 

Include them in your life

It’s easy for a person to feel lonely. You may think with social media and various other online platforms that loneliness is less likely to occur, but it’s not the case. Sometimes it even worsens it all as they see lots going on and aren’t included in any of it. Invite them out when you have gatherings – don’t just ignore them. Being present in their lives is important. 

Buy them a present every now and then

Sure, material things won’t mean all that much to some people, but it goes beyond the actual gift itself. It tells them that you’re thinking about them and that they’re an important part of your life. Even the smallest and insignificant gifts can mean an awful lot – especially during tougher times. It doesn’t matter if it’s something from ready for Christmas in a few months’ time or the most expensive piece of jewelry – if you spend time and money on someone, then it’s going to have meaning behind it.

Stay loyal to them

Have their back at all times. If they’re someone you truly cherish, then you’ll go to war for them in whatever way. Just saying you care and that you have their back isn’t enough – actions speak louder than words. If they struggle with something, then you need to back them to the hilt. If you truly care about them, then this won’t be all that difficult.

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5 Steps to a Productive Morning

Reading time: 3 minutes 4 seconds

As the weather is getting cooler and the mornings are darker, it can be harder for us to ensure that we start our day in the right way. We all know that getting up on the wrong side of the bed can have a huge knock-on effect when it comes to the rest of the day. Although autumn and winter is a great time of year to really work on your mindset and outlook on life, we can instantly let that have a positive effect on our mood. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to start your day in the right way. 

Choose your outfit the night before and be organized

This may sound like you are super organized, but getting rid of major choices in the morning is a much better way to have a relaxed approach to the start of your day. So if you can, it might be worth choosing the outfit you will be wearing for the day the night before. We all have applications on our phone that will tell us the immediate weather forecast, so it shouldn't be a huge dilemma to undertake. It may present the perfect opportunity to reorganize your wardrobe or even create a capsule wardrobe for things like work or casual days. 

Be organised 

Sometimes the only way to start your day right is to be organised in life, this can be anything from ensuring that you have your glasses and looking at a glasses buying guide so that you don’t miss out. It might even mean packing bags for lunch or your next day. Even a planner can help you to stay accountable. Knowing that you are organised takes huge pressure off the day. 

Don’t be an alarm dodger

If you have no choice but to wake at the same time each morning, it can be difficult to accept when your alarm begins to chime. Especially if you don’t find yourself to be a morning person. However, once you hear that alarm begin your morning routine there and then. Snoozing the alarm can only have a negative effect as you continuously put yourself back into that wake-up state every ten minutes. What is the point?

Stretch your muscles as you wake up

Stretching can have a huge positive effect on your body as you slowly wake up for the day, it helps realign muscles to avoid aches and pains. Slowly doing this as you wake up ensures you engage your brain and your body to be on the same page. 

Avoid coffee or tea as your first drink of the day

Our bodies will be dehydrated from the night before, having had no new fluid since you going to bed, so it’s important that you hydrate your body with water as one of the first drinks in the morning. It may be tempted to reach for the strong stuff, but having a pint of water before hand will help your body wake up much quicker than any caffeine hit. 

Ignore your phone until after breakfast

It may be tempting to check in on your social media or respond to emails, but try and avoid any contact with this kind of technology first thing. It’s important to relax and enjoy the start of your day, rather than be hassled or gain those feeling of stress from emails and the pressure social media can bring. 

Let’s hope these tips help you have a better start to your day.
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7 Ways to Style Jewelry

Reading time: 2 minutes 1 second

I post quite a bit about jewelry because I truly believe that they tie an outfit together. Whenever you feel like something's missing from your outfit, chances are it's jewelry. Throw on a minimalistic necklace or some statement earrings, and it would give any outfit a more cohesive look. Here are some ideas if you're looking to experiment more with jewelry:

Decide on a focus

This is especially important if you're looking to put the spotlight on your jewelry. One of my favorite looks is an understated outfit with eye-catching pieces of jewelry that complement and add interest to the outfit.

Don't overdo it, though. Choose one area to highlight. Otherwise, everything will get lost in the mix. If your top is looking too simple, try a statement necklace. If you want to draw attention to your face or hair, try statement earrings. If you, like me, gesture with your hands a lot, statement bracelets or rings are great too.

Any piece of statement jewelry is fine, but if you're looking for something that'll last you and as conversation starters, consult specialist jewelers like Opals Australia who'll be able to help you choose the perfect piece.

Layer, layer, layer

This is something I've always done, probably a habit from high school, honestly. ๐Ÿ˜… How do you layer jewelry? For necklaces and bracelets, you typically want a few pieces that are more or less similar so that they all get the same amount of attention. For rings, try one or two statement pieces and then add more minimalistic accompaniments. Experiment also with midi rings. They really add interest to the overall look.

If you have multiple piercings in one area like your ears, nose, or mouth, try one statement piece in your favorite spot and add other pieces that go well with it.

Mix metals

This is another recurring theme with how I style my jewelry. Especially with rings, I tend to go all metals and skip gems altogether. That way, I can play around more easily with golds and silvers. Different metals go surprisingly well together. With necklaces, this can be more fun because you can find extraextravagant pieces that combine multiple metals.

Wear for the season

I know this sounds gate-keepy and high-brow, but I don't mean wear the season. I mean wear for the season. Consider whether your jewelry can weather the weather (๐Ÿ™ƒ). I've definitely had days when I regretted wearing certain pieces of jewelry. Because I walk or take public transit everywhere, the weather has seriously wreaked havoc on my jewelry.

An example that comes to mind is a scorching hot day when I was waiting for the bus. I was wearing a deep-V tee with a super cute copper necklace. If you remember high school chemistry class, copper is one of the best conductors of heat. Y'all...I had to take off my necklace because it was literally burning me. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Copper necklace, cute. Red scorch marks in the shape of my necklace, not so much.

Analyze those Instas more closely next time. Chances are if an outfit is ๐Ÿ”ฅ, there's some clever jewelry choices being made. If anything, it's definitely a fun way to expand your knowledge of fashion, so if you see me linger on an Insta, that's probably what I'm doing. ๐Ÿ˜…

How do you style your jewelry?

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5 Physical Changes for Better Mental Wellbeing

Reading time: 3 minutes 39 seconds

If you are struggling with your mental health, such as with anxiety or depression, reach out to someone. No struggle is insignificant. Your mental health matters. If you are in need of crisis resources, regardless of where you are in the world, is a great website.

Please keep in mind that in this post, I am talking about general mental wellbeing. I am in no way suggesting that you can improve your mental health just by making small physical changes.

Sometimes, life can get too much, and our mental wellbeing suffers. When that happens, it can trickle into other aspects of your life. Consider this: when you're super stressed from work, you might go home and take out your frustration on other people. I for one have done so on multiple occasions before I started practicing mindfulness. That's why it's important to maintain mental wellbeing. Here are five physical changes you can try out:


A good skincare routine not only does wonders for your skin but for your mental wellbeing as well. An enjoyable skin care regime in the morning gets you refreshed and ready to face the day ahead. At night, it calms you down and removes all stresses from the day. It doesn't have to cost a bomb either. For me, all I use in the mornings are a gentle cleanser, a soothing toner, a hydrating moisturizer, and sunscreen. In the evenings, I use the same gentle cleanser followed by a foaming cleanser as well as witch hazel as toner and then face oil. Twice a week, my evening skincare routine is fancier - I add in a pore cleanser and then whatever sheet mask I need on the day, be it hydrating or soothing or brightening. I try to minimize the use of brightening-type sheet masks, though, because they tend to include exfoliating properties, and my sensitive skin can't handle too much of that.


A new hairstyle can make you feel like a brand-new person. When you find yourself feeling bored and uninspired by how you look, a change in hairstyle can make a huge difference. Of course, this can range anywhere from changing the part in your hair to a drastic haircut. For me, I've kind of settled on a default hairstyle (the one that's in pretty much all my pictures), but when I feel like I need something different, I just put in curlers to sleep in, or if I have more time, I dye my blonde streak a different color.


Something less obvious is a change in posture. We hear so much about the benefits of good posture, but honestly, when you feel yourself drifting off in the middle of the day, something small like sitting up a little straighter can clear the fog. If you have a little more time and the room to do so, a quick stretch also helps a bunch. Stand all the way up on your tippy-toes and reach all the way up to the ceiling with fingers outstretched. Alternatively, do a few toe touches. Stretching out the kinks is a quick and easy energizer. Plus, it gives you a break from sitting all damn day. ๐Ÿ˜‰


This is certainly a drastic step, but it's definitely an avenue to consider, especially if you've found yourself feeling deeply unsatisfied with a physical feature. Plastic surgery is heavily stigmatized, but it really shouldn't be. I have personally observed two students of mine whose confidence level skyrocketed after they underwent plastic surgery (one did eyelid surgery, and the other had her nose done). If it's going to help you feel like your best self, I say go ahead. Just make sure you go in as fully informed as possible. Websites like the PSC can serve as great resources, but remember to always consult with your options of surgeons before diving in.


Last but definitely not least, turn that frown upside down: ☹️➡️๐Ÿ™‚ (not to be confused with ๐Ÿ™ƒ). Everyone has got a beautiful smile, even if you don't feel like it. I don't have the nicest set of teeth, so I've always been super self-conscious about showing my teeth when I smile, but when I'm genuinely smiling, I honestly don't give a shit, ya know, and that's the point. Smiles are contagious, even more so than yawns, tbh, because emotions rub off on others. When you smile, the whole world really does smile with you.

How do you maintain your mental wellbeing?
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It's Time to Spice Up Your Life

Reading time: 4 minutes 32 seconds

This lockdown has got us all feeling restless. Even someone like me who's a serious homebody struggled with the mandatory two-week quarantine when I came back to China. That was some serious stuff. We were not allowed to even step foot outside our own apartment - the unit itself, not the building. Some coworkers who got back before me even had cameras and alarms installed on their doors by the quarantine peepz, and every time they opened the door, even if it's just to take out the trash, an extremely loud and obnoxious alarm would blare, and Siri's evil twin would scream at them to get back inside. I know it's obnoxious because I would hear it, even from several floors away. Luckily, they had stopped this procedure by the time I got back. All they did with me was check the GPS record on my phone. Yes, it was still kind of an invasion of privacy, but after hearing all those horror stories, I didn't mind it one bit.

In the midst of this insanely mundane situation we've all found ourselves in, no matter where you are in the world, if you're feeling like you want to make life more interesting, let's talk about some ways to spice up your life, all from the comfort (I guess) of your home.

Spice Up Your Love Life

Let's start with this because it's probably what popped into your mind when you saw "spice up your life," and I know, I know, who am I to tell you about relationships, considering I've been single for the last six years, right? I'm not trying to tell you what to do because you know your relationship best, but having been single for so long has been enlightening in a way because it's taken the romance out of romance, y'know. It's also been terrifying to read article after article about spikes in divorce rates during the lockdown. China even had to start imposing a one-month cooling period for all divorce applications because they found themselves overwhelmed with the sheer numbers. It's scary because if all it takes to end your marriage is spending time together, that feels like it defeats the purpose of the relationship altogether, so sometimes, spicing up your love life doesn't mean try freaky sex things like the ones Cosmo tells you to try or making elaborate dinners or any of the five million other distractions that you hear about because yes, they're just distractions from the real problem. Spicing up your love life, in my opinion, should be all about communicating with each other about how the relationship is going, to check in with one another (not each other because there's sometimes more than two people involved in relationships ๐Ÿ‘€) to make sure that everyone's still happy. Otherwise, that conversation might have to take a different turn altogether.

Spice Up Your Love for Yourself

This one is easier said than done because everyone knows that they should be doing it. Hell, they probably also know how to do it, but actually doing it is a completely different story. One way that seems to work for me, and I've mentioned this in a different post as well, is to take the spare minutes that you have to take from your day for mindfulness activities. Something as simple as deep breaths to clear your mind, even momentarily, can do wonders. What I mean by the minutes you have to take are minutes from things you have to do like ๐Ÿšฟ and ๐Ÿ’ฉ. If deep breaths in the bathroom aren't for you, you can try reflecting on what good things happened in your day so far and consciously avoid thinking about the bad things. Even on bad days, there are good things hidden in there somewhere; trust me.

Spice Up Your Cooking

Of course, because it's me, I have to talk about spicing up your life, literally. With all this extra time suddenly on our hands, we can actually justify spending a long time in the kitchen. I love to cook, but I don't have time like I used to for meal prepping and experimenting with recipes. Now, that time is back! One ingredient that is a pantry staple for me is spices, all kinds of spices. It's becoming like a collection almost because I love, love, love spices. Even the most basic spices can make basic dishes taste delicious. I went through a phase when I was obsessed with fettucine but didn't feel like Italian flavors, so I just boiled the pasta, drained it, and stir-fried it with chicken breast, spinach, and garlic powder. That's it - no sauce, just the juices from the chicken basically and the garlic powder. I would also sprinkle some chili flakes in at the end.

Thus, if you do want to spice up your love life by preparing an elaborate meal, you can actually make a dish that looks elaborate but actually isn't. Get some porterhouse from somewhere like (Yes, you can still access a butcher during this lockdown ๐Ÿ˜‰). Pour as much olive oil as you think you'll need into a bowl, and sprinkle in a few shakes (I measure by sight, ok!) of coriander, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and of course some salt and pepper, mix them all together, and then rub the mixture over both sides of your steak. Finally, just throw it on the grill! ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿผ

How are you making life bearable during this difficult time?
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How to Find a Meaningful Career Path

Reading time: 4 minutes 7 seconds

In the midst of global crises such as the one we're facing right now, we might feel like we need a bit more meaning in life (cue that Stacie Orrico song). Something that might help is to get more in touch with yourself and figure out what you really want (cue that Spice Girls song ๐Ÿ˜‚). That, I feel, is the first step to addressing the elephants in the rooms of your life, one of which is your career. After all, we spend, on average, a third of our lives working, so why not make it count? Whether you're just starting out in the workforce or you've been ambling along in a career that sucks the life out of you and are ready to make a change, how do you get on the road to a meaningful (for you) career path?

Understand Your Interests and Personality

Since meaningful is such a subjective term, the first thing you can do is to understand the type of work you feel you have a connection to. Sometimes, it isn't so straightforward. When I was in high school, I was planning on becoming an acquisitions editor because I loved finding really great but not as well-known books and then reviewing them (I had a book review blog back in the day). However, when I was in college taking relevant classes, I discovered an interest in digital media, and I even interned with an e-book publisher. Throughout all of this, though, I was working as a tutor and a communication consultant, mostly because they were two of the highest paying jobs on campus. I enjoyed them immensely, but teaching had never been on my radar because, y'know, teaching. When I graduated, my most promising full-time prospect fell through, and I ended up picking up a teaching job that my friend referred me to because why not. Y'all, I fell head over heels in love with teaching, so much so that I applied to a master's program for the very next academic year. The rest is history, guys. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

The reason for that walk down memory lane is to say don't dismiss certain career paths just because you think you're not interested. Try out all opportunities that come your way. You never know what you'll discover about yourself. Besides, you don't want FOMO and all that. Once you find out what path you want to take, it's never too late to pick up the relevant qualifications, like the MA in applied linguistics I ended up doing or something just as unconventional like a master of engineering management. I did my master's one year later than most people, and I'm running three years (and counting) behind most PhD applicants. My GRE scores have even expired. ๐Ÿ˜‚ If anything, pursuing more niche programs than your undergraduate can help get your foot in the door of whatever career path you end up wanting to walk.

Look at Your Values

I hope those anecdotes did a good job of illustrating how, even in relatively short periods of time, we can change our interests and even attitudes. Therefore, it's still essential to check in with yourself every now and then to gauge if you're still doing something that's meaningful to you and aligns with your values. Self-reflection is key. If journaling and meditation aren't your cups of tea like they aren't really mine, just do something easy like mull over your current situation when you're in the shower or when you're mindlessly scrolling through Netflix for something to watch while you eat (you know who you are ๐Ÿ˜‰). Just, whatever you do, don't self-reflect when you're in bed getting ready to sleep. ๐Ÿ˜‚

If and when you discover that you're starting to feel unfulfilled or losing your enthusiasm, perhaps it's time to revisit the previous step of exploring career paths, but if it's not the industry but rather the position, it could be time for progression. In some fields, vertical progression requires new skills or updated and current skills, so you might consider picking up some quick courses from somewhere like LinkedIn Learning or Coursera, which are both recognized by most companies. If anything, it'll keep you up-to-date with regard to those skills. For example, we all know that interpersonal communication skills are super important, even if you're not in something like marketing and PR. Nowadays, a lot of attention in interpersonal communication is paid on how to communicate inclusively. Things like how you use gender pronouns or how you refer to marginalized populations may seem like no-biggie, but they have a world of impact on those concerned. It's no longer just about how to communicate with people effectively but how to communicate with all people effectively.

Now that many of us have found ourselves with some extra time (and a dash of pessimism) on our hands, we kinda owe it to ourselves to make it meaningful and fulfilling, whatever that may mean to us personally.

How did you end up in your career?
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How to Find A Unique Style to Up Your Insta-Game

Reading time: 3 minutes 10 seconds

Imma be honest; I've seriously fallen off the Instagram wagon - straight down, face first, and into a questionable pile of brown. When I first started blogging, I was quick to clamber up the Instagram bandwagon (I'm gonna give myself 50 English-teacher points here for using two wagon-related idioms in two consecutive sentences ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿผ), but I kinda lost steam after a while, especially during the time when I was trying to establish an ~aesthetic~ and a ~personal brand~ for my page. Standardizing the type of shot, the color palette, the overall layout, and even the captions and hashtags proved to be a mammoth task, but I know it's worth it because I even find myself keener to follow pages that are cohesive like that. Along the journey, though, I picked up a few tips and tricks, so today, let's take a look at how you can go about showing your unique style on your Instagram page.

Think About Your Personal Brand

Consider the values that you hold as a person and how you want to express those values to the world. How do those values define you and your style? Are environmental issues at the top of your priority list, so it's important for you to support sustainable clothing brands or showcasing thrift and vintage finds (@fionayaporfavor is one of my favorites)? Are you passionate about championing inclusive fashion for mature folks (I love @iconaccidental) or people with disabilities ( is amazing)? Small details and anecdotes that you don't mind sharing with others are great, be it as small as sharing a picture of a hat you bought on one of your travels or as major as the story behind the cremation ash necklaces in glass that you sell. Not only will these boost your Instagram following, but more importantly, they will help you connect with said followers, all the while advocating for your values.

Use the Power of Color

Color may seem inconsequential, but as someone who was a lecturer in rhetoric, I can tell you that it is anything but. Color theory exists for a reason, right? A consistent choice across your pictures defines your brand and aesthetic. Think blue for travel bloggers who tend to include panoramic shots of the sky and sea to instill a sense of wanderlust in the audience. Many Instagrammers now use custom lightroom presets to make it easier to maintain this consistency, especially if they post a wide variety of pictures. If you're not sure what color palette to use, My Insta Palette is a good place to start. It's a tool that helps you figure out the most used colors on your page, which you can then use in your presets.

Plan Out Your Shots

This is the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I had a plan for my content, but it was hard to stick to because I didn't have the time to produce enough content for such a plan to happen, so days turned into weeks into months into years, and here we are. This, once again, helps solidify the brand that you're presenting to your audience, but more than that, it keeps your page uncluttered, and it makes it easier for followers to find and engage with your other content that they might also enjoy. Some aspects to consider are what types of content you want to include, what pictures work well together, and what spots can use a bit of balancing to make your page look exactly how you want it to. A tool that I've stumbled upon that can help with this is Planoly, which takes the time-consuming aspect out of planning your layout.

Of course, I'm giving all this another shot, now that I'm back posting more regularly on the blog, so fingers crossed! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

What advice do you have for establishing an aesthetic for Instagram?
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How to Refresh Your Style for the Summer

Reading time: 2 minutes 13 seconds

In my last post, I talked about summer makeup staples that you can experiment with even though summer is canceled. In this post, let's look at how you can play with your personal style to refresh your look for when you're getting your mask tan line on. ๐Ÿ˜ท

Try New Jewelry

Add some new jewelry to your look! Minimal jewelry is super on-trend right now, and because the whole point of it is to keep it minimalistic, it doesn't take much to adopt. Try something like a fine gold chain with a teeny charm on the end for a necklace, or try a geometric midi ring.

If minimalist is not your speed, go big or go home and go get a new piercing (when the lockdowns are lifted, of course ๐Ÿ˜‰)! This is a great time to support your piercer friends, actually. Since their income has essentially disappeared, many piercers are selling gift cards that you can use when they start piercing again, so go ask your piercer if they're doing something similar! I'm actually considering a titanium septum ring like this one from Urban Body Jewelry.

Get a New Hairstyle

Since the salons are also closed, a new haircut might not be in your immediate future, unless you're brave (or talented) enough to cut your own hair. I've only ever tried cutting my own bangs (first unsuccessfully but then learning from my mistakes and finally nailing it), so I definitely won't be trying something like in this video:

An easier, less scary alternative is just to color your hair! That's super simple to do. It's tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's no trouble at all. I recently did an orange-and-yellow ombrรฉ for the Lunar New Year, but for the summer, I'm thinking of going back to green. I can do like a tutorial on Instagram if y'all are interested; let me know! ๐Ÿ–ค

Change Up Your Wardrobe

I hear people complaining about not being able to go shopping and stuff, but as someone who prefers online shopping, I'm not really that bothered. Sure, retailers are all closed, but their online stores are still open (thank you, essential workers, for keeping us all sane during these trying times ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ). I'm thinking more of a shoe refresh for me, since I'm literally down to four pairs at the moment. Maybe some platforms? Bulky white trainers? Strappy six-inch stilettos? Any of those would be a 360 in style for me. ๐Ÿ˜‚ This lockdown might be the perfect opportunity to do that, though - try out styles that are completely out of left field for you. What would that be? ๐Ÿค”

How will you level up your look this summer?
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Makeup Basics for Your Best Summer

Reading time: 2 minutes 56 seconds

I know many of you are bummed out that summer is most likely canceled this year. Personally, summer is my least favorite season, so it doesn't really bother me. What does bother me, though, is that I might not even be able to go home for summer break if China doesn't open its borders for outbound flights by then. That will suck in a major way, not just because I won't be able to spend time at home but also because the humidity here will kill me, so let's not dwell on the negatives. Even if we're still under lockdown when summer rolls around, we can still play with makeup to pass the time! ๐Ÿ˜„ Here are some makeup basics to experiment with for all your summer FOTD needs.


Tbh, this is the perfect time to experiment with those eyeshadow shades you've always wanted to try. For me, I've been wanting to try green and blue, but I've always been worried about looking too 00s. Sure, the decade's making a comeback, but that's never been my look. My go-to palette lately is the Urban Decay Naked Heat because I have been super in love with that dark, burned, red and orange look, but I have my eye (๐Ÿ˜‰) on the ColourPop Midnight Masquerade and Misunderstood. Since schools are reopening in China, and I go back to face-to-face teaching on Monday, I don't have as much time, but I might take one of these weekends to post an everyday makeup look using Naked Heat.


Mascara is a must-have for a lot of people, especially for me. Even when I'm too lazy to bother with makeup, mascara is a must-have, along with eyebrows. I usually just apply a couple coats of the Missha 4D Mascara. My lashes don't usually respond to mascara. Regardless of what the product advertises, be it length or volume, it does literally nothing to my lashes, but this one works wonders. A couple of swipes adds incredible length and definition to my lashes, and they honestly look like falsies, even more so than the actual Maybelline Falsies Mascara, honestly. ๐Ÿ˜‚ This summer, experiment with color mascara, especially if you're looking to go with a minimalist look. Instead of going all out with eyeshadow, you can try a minimalist graphic look with color mascara and maybe a cat-eye with some color eyeliner. Of course, with the heat and humidity ramping up, waterproof is the way to go. Pro tip: the Garnier Micellar Makeup Remover kicks ass when it comes to removing even the most stubborn of waterproof makeup.


I cringe at the thought of foundation in the summer because once again, the humidity here is killer, but also, my combination skin leans more towards the oily side during the summer, so most days, I skip foundation altogether, or it's breakout galore. With that being said, though, we still need SPF, and I specifically need color correction and redness control, so I tend to opt for CC cream as opposed to foundation, but if foundation's more your speed, try one that's light and airy that won't suffocate your skin in the heat and humidity. When I need more coverage than CC creams can provide, I go with the Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation.

With eyeshadow, mascara, and foundation, you're equipped with all the basics you need to experiment with new looks this summer. When you land on a look you love, and you can't run out into the street to shove it in people's faces, remember that we always have social media. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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Weekly Reading | April 23, 2020


Everyone is on high alert with their physical health and wellbeing nowadays, checking temperatures and tracking symptoms, but don't forget to keep an eye on other aspects of your health as well, like your reproductive health and your mental health. Make use of available online resources as much as possible to flatten the curve and leave all available health resources to folks who really need them.

"How Chronic Illness Affects Relationships" via Kate the (Almost) Great


While we, as responsible citizens, do our part to fight the pandemic by social distancing, we can still dream about and plan for vacations. These lockdowns will be lifted eventually. We just need to be patient. The less we care about social distancing, the longer we will all have to do it.

In the meantime, we can all live vicariously together through some blog posts from the Before Times.


Other things you can do to keep yourselves occupied and indoors include (window) shopping! Finances are tight right now across the board, but we can still indulge in the pastime of Adding to Cart but Not Actually Buying.

For college, wellness, and lifestyle posts, check out the previous Weekly Reading!

What do you miss the most about the Before Times?
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5 Life Issues You Need to Stop Ignoring

Reading time: 4 minutes 34 seconds

In these uncertain times, it's easy to get overwhelmed and shut down. Challenges and problems, most of which are completely out of your hands, seem to crop up by the day. Push them all out of your mind for a bit. Take a minute right now to just out.

While some issues can wait, some really require more attention. For example, one small issue for me is that I need my gel nails removed, but that's not exactly a pressing issue for me. On the other hand, something like my vision changes is an issue I need to keep an eye on.

(Puns intended. ๐Ÿ˜‡)

What's been happening is that I've been noticing blurry vision, as in blurrier vision than my already-pretty-bad vision. I also sometimes see what I think are flashes, and a quick Google search shows that retinal detachment is a possibility. That sounds rare and far-fetched, right? Yes, except that at my last eye exam, the ophthalmologist (phew) mentioned something about partial myopic retinal detachment, but she's not too worried about it yet, so these developments warrant more attention than my nails.

What else should you be paying attention to?

Physical Health Changes

Millions of people are affected by changes in vision, not just me. That and changes in hearing are so common that many people tend to overlook them. However, remember that the ability to see and hear is incredibly important. We take them for granted, but these two abilities help us navigate the world with more ease than for many other folks, so even when the change is minimal, investments such as reading glasses are vital. Not only do they slow the regression, they also prevent headaches and other forms of discomfort.

Mental Health Changes

With the global lockdown, we have been coming up with incredible ways to maintain our sanity, from that Hamster PSA TikTok to that family who came up with the Quarantine Olympics, but sometimes, what you're feeling might be bigger than just the lockdown. Here are some signs to look for:

๐Ÿ˜ถ You've lost interest in activities you usually love and never miss, such as cooking or scrolling through social media.

๐Ÿ˜ด You know you need to get up to go do something, but your body doesn't want to move. It feels like your body's not listening to your brain.

๐Ÿ˜ฒ You feel a sudden sense of dread, urgency, or panic but for no discernible reason, or you feel overwhelming panic over matters that are usually trivial to you.

If possible, reach out to a mental health professional to talk through these issues. If not, reach out to family and friends. Other people might be feeling the same way or have felt the same way and can help you out.

House Issues

With all of this insanity going on, it's easy to turn a blind eye to faults in your property, especially if they pose no immediate danger. However, they will need fixing at some point, and even seemingly small issues can cause damage to other parts of the property. Whether it's treating damp spots, small leaks, or cracks in the wall, it will still restore the positive atmosphere throughout the home and save you from potential nightmares down the line. Besides, now that you're at home all day, that leaky faucet has probably become twice as annoying.

Money Issues

It's scary to think that millions of people have been laid off at this point, and that's just in the U.S., and folks who are still employed might still have experienced hour reductions or just flat-out salary reductions, as businesses cope with the economic downturn. At the moment, even if you're not affected monetarily, it's still safer to reduce your outgoings, at least in the meantime, until we ride out this pandemic.

Relationship Issues

Another scary statistic is how the divorce rate has spiked, now that couples are trapped together indoors for the foreseeable future. I'm single right now and live alone, but I can only imagine what it must be like if I had to be in my studio apartment with the same person 24/7. On the flipside, though, this time together or alone is time you can take to reevaluate your relationships, not just romantic ones but platonic friendships as well. Whether it's a disruptive romance or a toxic friendship, now's the time to take a step backward and reevaluate: does the relationship cause you more harm than good? Is being in the relationship causing you stress? If you're not living with the person, this might be the perfect opportunity to start removing yourself from that relationship.

How are you coping with the lockdown?
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Level Up Breakfast Time

Reading time: 2 minutes 22 seconds

Sure, it's been debunked that breakfast is an essential meal, but there's no denying that it's still so damn relaxing to sit down and enjoy some noms - even something as simple as a bagel - with that morning coffee. As a morning person who is also an introvert, I find that my breakfast routine is the perfect time for me to practice self-care and psych myself up for the day ahead, but even a routine lover like me can sometimes get tired of that same old, same old, so here's what I do when I need to shake things up.

Sweet Treats

When I crave something sweet but that Starbucks Cinnamon Morning Bun just isn't cutting it anymore, I tend to want a big bowl of Cookie Crisp or Froot Loops, but your mom is right - sugary cereals are terrible for you. There are so many other options that you can explore that offer many more vitamins and minerals as well as a far more encouraging variation of tastes and textures. The easiest one of those options is to incorporate fresh fruit and grains. They offer the sweet taste and crunchy texture that we crave in sugary cereals, but they make your body way, way happier.

The most frequent way I incorporate the fruits and grains is by adding chopped fruit and nuts or seeds to Greek yogurt. Other times, I throw that whole thing into the blender with ice, cashew milk, and a teeny bit of honey to make a breakfast smoothie. If you have the time, though, you can create your own french toast - bread soaked in whisked egg and some brown sugar and griddled. Throw your fruits and nuts on there and voilร !

Savory Temptations

On the other end of the spectrum is savory breakfast, and this is my go-to on weekend mornings when I can pop on over to Perkins and stuff my face. On weekdays, especially when I teach 8 AM classes, that's just not possible. As delicious as it is, it is not worth waking up at 3 AM for, so what I tend to do is scramble some eggs and make some avocado toast for the perfect protein-filled morning meal. I also recently discovered Mexican scrambled eggs, which is just scrambled eggs with tomato, bell peppers, and chili powder. I don't know why it never occurred to me to do that, especially since these are ingredients I always have on hand. I also recently discovered freshly baked and delivered pretzels from places like Delicious pretzels delivered to my door? Yes, please!

Leveling up breakfast time doesn't have to be difficult! It's just a matter of giving your body what it craves, be that something sweet or savory, without compromising your health. Think about it: breakfast is the first substantial thing you put in your body for the day. If you put in something unhealthy, that's how you'll feel for the rest of the day, but if you rush to make something elaborate, it'll also throw your entire day off, so hopefully, these simple ideas help you with your breakfast game!

How do you level up your breakfast?
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4 Tools for Social Media Management

Reading time: 3 minutes 56 seconds

In my last post, I shared some blogging tips regarding saving time. This post is no different, except that it deals more specifically with tools for social media management because let's face it: social media is the way to get your brand out there. Engaging frequently with your audience on social media is essential to growing your brand and enhancing your online presence. What's more, to keep on improving, you'll need to track your analytics. The problem is, with so many social media tools available, your campaigns can end up being time-consuming and difficult to monitor. The solution to managing your social media accounts can be achieved easily with any of these four software tools.


Buffer is an excellent choice for managing all of your social media content. You’ll no longer need to log in separately on LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram. Buffer allows you to log in to all accounts via one single platform. With Buffer, you can schedule posts and upload the posts you’ve created with one simple click. Buffer is easily integrated with tools such as Wordpress or RSS readers, should you rely on these for your content needs. With Buffer, you can add any post that you’ve created to a queue, and from here, the app takes control of when to post. You’ll receive some handy analytics features which can help you to see which of your content has been the most popular. Info includes retweets, mentions, and the number of clicks.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a great piece of software that allows you to work on your social marketing plans and build relationships via social communication. Using the app, you can access an excellent social media management solution plus helpful analytics. There are plenty of handy features to take advantage of, including social CRM, monitoring, publishing, collaboration, and a smart inbox.


Sendible is a business platform to facilitate and manage audience engagement, analytics, and social monitoring, which sounds very 1984 but actually just means analyzing your readers' reactions to what you're publishing and using that information to create more targeted campaigns. Besides that, one of the top benefits of the software is that you can measure ROI straight from the social dashboard. With Sendible, you can drive leads and access marketing automation as well as CRM tools. You can also use the software to assign tasks and approve workflows, which is A+ if you run your blog with a small team. Other key features of Sendible include customer engagement, brand building and monitoring, scheduling posts, and managing clients.


Hootsuite is currently the most popular social media management tool out there, and it's the one that I've been using the longest and most widely. Back when I was in college, there was a time when I was managing social media for my on-campus job; my remote, off-campus internship; my blog network (shoutout to my IHC peepz); and this blog at the same time, and it worked seamlessly on Hootsuite. Using the software, you can gain full control of your social media campaigns - you can connect with clients, review responses, or schedule updates. Social platforms accessible right from Hootsuite include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. With Hootsuite, you can also connect to third-party apps such as MailChimp, Tumblr, or Evernote. You’ll save yourself lots of time with Hootsuite, and you'll get yourself some actionable data to supercharge your ongoing campaigns.

When it comes to your social media strategy, ensure that you revise your campaigns all the time. Call upon the services of an SEO expert to enhance the quality of your digital marketing. Seek all the blogging tips you can and put real time and effort into designing creative content.

Have you tried these tools? What other tools work for you?
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How to Save Time When Blogging

Reading time: 2 minutes 13 seconds

Blogging is time-consuming. One of the most important lessons I learned from managing this blog is that everything takes way more time than you expect it would, but I also learned that there are ways to save time and increase efficiency, most notably by taking any free time you do have to do two things: create templates and schedule posts.

Create Templates Ahead of Time

If you look through blogs and other social media, you will notice that everything follows a template or a set style. This is because templates make it possible for you to focus just on writing when it comes time to write, and this is also something that survived traditional media's transition to digital media; think house style books.

Websites like provide the kind of software that can help you run a blog, especially once it gathers momentum. Alternatively, if you have a Microsoft Suite subscription, explore the programs available to you through that.

Schedule Your Social Media Posts

You can also start scheduling your social media posts to ensure that you maximize the use of your online platform. I used to just publish posts whenever I got done writing, and I would write and send out social media posts the same way, but once I started looking into my analytics and focusing on information like days and times y'all interacted with my content, I was able to tailor my posting times to your schedules without compromising my own schedule.

Of course, the best times to post vary by your niche, the kind of content you provide, your location, and even the platform you're publishing to, so you'll need to check the stats for your own platforms to get the best, most useful information.

Once you have that information, you can easily tailor your timings. For example, if you notice that you have most of your blog views coming in at 8 PM on Thursdays, you know to publish new posts at around that time.

While I'm more of a casual blogger now than I used to be, these two tips have helped me make the most of what little time I can devote to blogging, and they give me the chance to still enjoy blogging as a pastime instead of just giving it up.

How do you save time when you blog?
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Birthday Gift Ideas for the Entire Year

Reading time: 2 minutes 22 seconds

One of the topics that we used in this week's speaking assessment was gifts, and one of the prompts was "the idea that humans are selfish and only give gifts to receive some in return." I watched as my student, one of the sweetest girls in her grade, experienced the complete and utter realization that she may indeed be a bitch. I knew this because I experienced it at the same time. ๐Ÿ˜‚

I have always loved giving gifts to the people I care about because it is how I show them that they matter to me, so I always love giving gifts based on my observations of their daily routines, which, trust me, is not as creepy as it sounds. I have a friend who is constantly cold, and she loves Lord of the Rings. She even made a Tree of Gondor hoodie for herself, so for her birthday one year, I gave her a Tree of Gondor blanket to match her hoodie.

The point is that I think my student and I both do this, but we suddenly realized that we may only be doing it because we want it reciprocated, so take note, Men Who Are Lining Up Around the Block Just to Date Me.

Regardless of your reasons for gifting, be it birthdays or random occasions like Spaghetti Day (which is today, btw), here are some ideas.

Something For Their Home

If your recipient has recently moved, getting them something for their new home would be great. Just make sure it's something unobtrusive and out-of-the-way. Unpacking their own shit is stressful enough without more stuff to have to put away, so think small like wine glasses (because you can never have too many wine glasses) or one of those maps where you can scratch off countries you've visited.

Something For Their Hobbies

If your recipient has an obvious hobby that they either talk a lot about or have shared with more people than just you, a gift that they can use for that hobby is another option. Why I added that disclaimer about it being an obvious hobby is because you don't want to accidentally oust someone's secret hobby, like getting your niece luxury smoking accessories because you want to be the cool aunt, but then she gets in trouble, and you get called an enabler. ๐Ÿ‘€ Some safer bets are those collapsible water bottles for hiking enthusiasts or a sports fanny pack (or whatever they're called) for people who go running on a daily basis.

Something That Creates Memories

If your recipient is going through a Marie Kondo phase, and you don't want to give them more worldly possessions that don't spark joy, give them the gift of experience. Take them to a wine tasting or to a cozy afternoon tea, or go all-out and take them racing on a professional course or take them skydiving! The point is to do something you will both enjoy and remember for much longer than they'll keep a physical gift.

Something Personalized

Personalized gifts, I feel, are the best. It shows that thought and effort were put into the gift and that it didn't come from a last-minute dash through Target (although, let's be honest, it's impossible to dash through Target). The forever-cold friend I was talking about, when I was leaving for China, gave me a fridge magnet she designed herself that features one of the many inside jokes we share. To this day, it is still one of my favorite gifts, despite how simple it may seem on the surface. If that's too intense, you can go the route of getting an engraved thermos for a tea-obsessed friend or a custom eyeshadow palette for a makeup lover.

At the end of the day, regardless of your selfish or otherwise reasons for gifting, it's always nice to get free shit, am I right?

What birthday gifts do you like receiving?
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