When I Was Bullied…

If this story can resonate with at least one person today, I know it was worth writing. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and I’ve been reflecting on the past year and how drastically my life has changed. I have never felt more loved and connected to you, my audience, the people that follow along on my adventures and make everything possible for me day by day. If you knew how thankful I was that you’re even taking the time to read this right now…just seriously. It means so much to me.

This blog post is going to be about my story growing up and how I was never the “cool kid”. I was never in a clique, I never was the “popular” girl, or had tons of “cool” friends to hang out with. I was never invited to the cool parties, either. In my heart, even at a young age, I knew I was going to be someone special. I remember telling my mom at 10 years old that I was going to be someone extraordinary. Looking back, I realize I had a ton of confidence for a girl who wasn’t accepted by the popular crowd. But…needless to say, it wasn’t a smooth and easy ride through my school years. It was freaking HARD. I’ll never forget how it made me feel.

In high school…

I was bullied a lot through my teenage years. Some comments were about me being too skinny, some were about my nose and how big it was because it didn’t fit my face, other comments were about the way I dressed because I wasn’t the most stylish, and others were just people finding a reason to bully. It was the little things people would say to you as a kid that hurt the most even though now I can laugh about it…those little things seemed so big at the time. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self to just keep shining bright and keep doing exactly what I’m doing–being myself and owning it.

There were times when I would come home in tears because everyone got invited to a party and I didn’t. Or there was the time when I hosted a birthday party and 70 people RSVP’ed, and then not one single person showed up. I had set up an entire floor of my house filled with snacks, drinks, decorations, everything. And I waited for 2 hours…not one person came. I later found out someone who was considered cooler than me decided to throw a party over mine, and everyone chose theirs. I know these instances may sound ridiculously silly to some of you reading this right now (I’m smiling and laughing as I’m writing this), but trust me – when you’re 14 years old, these things hurt man.

In college…

College was a bit intimidating for me, but going into it, I was still super excited to start an entirely new chapter of my life. My university heavily focused on Greek life, and if you weren’t in a sorority as a girl, I thought it would be impossible to make friends. My heart was telling me not to join one, even though I had a ton of pressure to do so. I have nothing against Greek life and I believe for some girls it’s such a great way to connect and make friendships! But for me, I just felt it wasn’t my thing. It was hard for me to really dive into that world, and I ended up choosing to join a singing group instead. That group was the best decision I could have made for myself because I loved to sing, and the people were such amazing friends that I’ll always love for the rest of my life.

Needless to say, not joining a sorority came with a bit of a price. I was friends with a lot of the guys in fraternities (I’ve always gotten along better with guys. I grew up with two older brothers and it’s just my nature). Some of these girls in sororities at my college would talk so badly about me behind my back, and their words would always somehow find a way back to me through my guy friends. I knew about it, but I ignored it because I never liked to get involved in drama. I’m not a confrontational person. But the worst part was when these girls made a thread in Yik Yak about me. Yik Yak is a mobile app that connects people in a close area (it’s popular on college campuses), and it allows anyone to write in a forum anonymously. They would write things about me, blasting it to everyone on my campus, about how ugly and pathetic I was. They would also write the harshest things about my instagram. I immediately deleted the app after reading some of it, and I never downloaded it again.

A photo of me from college, and one of the first instagram “mirror selfies” I’d ever posted. Hahaha my leggings were awesome.

I think the way I’ve learned to get over bullying is to just tune it out and tell myself that I am making a positive and important difference in the world by being true to myself. It doesn’t matter if other people accept me, it matters if I accept me. Kindness will always overpower everything, and I know that by being loving, open-hearted and forgiving, I will ultimately have a better and more successful (and happier!!) life. I refused to let the words and actions of other people tear apart my worth, because I knew my worth and that was all that mattered to me. It’s still all that matters to me – and at the core of my foundation, there lies indestructible confidence and strength that I’ll always carry with me.

Over these past holidays, I was sitting with my parents at dinner and we were talking about my childhood. My mom looked up at me from her plate and said, “Alyssa, you were always very different, from as early as I can remember. You always did your own thing and beat to your own drum.” What she said made me smile because it suddenly reminded me of how I got to where I am today in the first place. I had overcome all of the bullying, the days where I felt lost, confused and like I’d never have friends or fit in with anyone. I pushed past the days where I felt alone, because deep in my heart, I guess I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. That I’d find my peace, and the right people to walk into my life, at some point and time. It was just a matter of patience and staying strong, but more importantly, staying TRUE to myself…however “nerdy” that may be 🙂

Xo,

Lyss

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Getting Over My Ex and Finding Love Again

As personal as this topic may be to a lot of people, I actually love opening up about my relationships because they helped shape me into the person I am today. Throughout middle school and high school, I was that friend who always loved giving advice about anything relationship-related and I felt it was liberating for me to share my love life.

What most of you probably don’t know about me is that I was in an on-and-off 8-year relationship before I met my current boyfriend. I never mentioned this previous relationship publicly because I’ve moved so forward past it, but it had definitely played such an important role in shaping my teenage years and helping me figure out what I wanted in my future relationships. I hope sharing this story will connect with some of your own stories and feel relatable to some of you.

I’m not going to mention his name out of respect for him and his privacy. I met my ex-boyfriend when I was 14. I was a freshman in high school and I had went through a ton of middle school “crushes”, but I had never dated anyone seriously before him. I met him at a birthday dinner for one of my friend’s, and we sat across from each other. We immediately clicked and ended up spending the entire duration of dinner talking and getting to know each other. I remember feeling like we were instantly best friends. I think that’s always been a key factor in my relationships — feeling like your significant other is also your best friend is so important. I wasn’t nervous or closed off to be my true self from the beginning, and that’s something truly special.

To make a very long 8 years short, we dated all throughout high school and broke up quite a few times, but always ended up getting back together. At that time of my life, I was super emotionally attached to him because he was my first love. We did everything together. I spent almost every day at his house after school, we had a core group of best friends that would all hang out, and we could spend hours upon hours together just doing nothing and still having the best time. This relationship taught me that I could be loved by someone with all of my flaws, my crazy mood swings, my weird sense of humor, etc.

 Although I can remember so many amazing times with him, our relationship also taught me how to pick myself up off the ground and piece myself back together after my heart was broken. There is no feeling worse than a broken heart and although I wouldn’t wish this gut-wrenching feeling upon anyone, I think it was so important for me to experience it. I spent nearly a month crying in my bed the summer that we broke up for the first time, and it felt like half of me was completely missing. I felt so hurt and so lost, and I struggled to find the good in this feeling—all I could see or feel was pain. I had a job at Carvel at the time, and I would take breaks in between customers to cry in the bathroom and eat ice cream (totally kidding about the ice cream part, but now that I think about it, that was probably the best job to have for a broken-hearted teenage girl). Now every time I pass by a Carvel, it brings me back to those memories of my broken heart, and I smile because it’s so bittersweet. I remember my mom hugging me so tightly and telling me that “time heals everything”, and although it didn’t feel that way at the time, she was right. Time does heal everything—including a broken heart.

My ex and I ended up going to the same college, but we had established our separate lives there so our relationship was super on-and-off, but mostly off. Being away at college had given my mind such a different perspective that I had never experienced before. I found a new group of friends that supported me, I was always busy with reading for classes, writing papers, and studying for exams, that those things started becoming more of a priority than my love life. I was growing and changing so much during my college years, and truly took that time to figure myself out. I had started my instagram account, and I was working so often on that as well, that I barely had time for a relationship. I dated a few different guys in non-serious relationships, and some of the stories are so funny thinking about it now.

Some of the past guys I dated in college:

  1. The Player — had a girlfriend who went to the same college as us, and I had no idea whatsoever. I didn’t know her personally (there are over 20,000 students who went to my university) but she knew who I was. Once I found out about her, I confronted the guy and he lied and said he had no idea what I was talking about. As you can guess, this relationship fizzled out quite rapidly.
  2. The Manipulator — made me feel super special for about a week until I found out he was talking to a bunch of other girls the same exact way. It was basically like he copied and pasted his cute texts and sent them out to any girl he found attractive.
  3. The Narcissist — a guy that was super good-looking and that every girl was obsessed with at my school, but he was also so into himself that it was a bit extreme. He only saw his point of view and if anyone challenged him, he would freak out. It was very unattractive to me, but a shame because he was hot.

And now I’m going to tell you one of my favorite stories now leading up to my current relationship and how I met my amazing boyfriend Meir.

Flash Forward to my Senior Year of College:

This guy was apparently in love with me since my freshman year of college but never had the courage to really do anything about it. All of his friends told me he was super interested in me, and would do anything to take me to his senior formal. I was not by any means interested in dating this guy. He wasn’t my type at all, but I was open-minded and after a lot of convincing from my friends and his, I decided to take a chance and hang out with him. After a few weeks of hanging around this guy, he seemed super genuine, so sweet, really funny, and just an all-around nice guy. My roommates and I would joke about how he was too nice and that there had to be a catch. So I was like, “hmmm, maybe I do like him after all”. Usually, I know right away when I like someone, but since this was a gradual feeling, it was enticing me to pursue it and see what could happen.

Well, there was a catch. So this guy’s formal comes around and he invites me to go with him, and then out of nowhere he stops answering my texts. In my gut I immediately knew something was off, but I didn’t say anything. I quickly found out he was getting back together with his ex-girlfriend and then he uninvited me to his formal. Ouch.

I was upset for about 20 minutes, and then I decided to make it my ultimate mission to never look at another guy again (LOL).

Over the remaining couple of weeks of college, I chose not to be sad. I chose to be positive, strong, and happy to finish off the last year of university right. I knew I would never get that year back, and I wasn’t about to let a frat boy ruin it for me. I spent the remaining time working on myself, going to the gym, creating content for my instagram, finishing the last of my schoolwork, and just surrounding myself with good friends. 

The last few days of school were a whirlwind. I ended up going out to this day party that my university was hosting on campus, and I was the designated driver. I pulled up my car, parked, and my friends and I got out and were walking towards the party when all of a sudden, I heard a group of guys calling us over. I looked to my left and there were a bunch of guys that looked unfamiliar. I knew right away they didn’t go to our university. We ended up walking over to them and that’s when I locked eyes with this tall Swedish-looking guy with the most insane blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I thought he was going to have a European accent before he spoke. He, to my disappointment, did not have an accent, and wasn’t European at all. But…I guess the look was enough 🙂 He told me his name was Meir and that he was visiting a friend at our college for the weekend. We exchanged numbers for some odd reason. I remember clearly thinking in my head, “Do not talk to another guy.”

I ended up going home from the day party and passing out because I had been up since 5 AM that day and was exhausted. At midnight, I woke up to a thread of texts from Meir, asking me where I was. I didn’t respond for 2 reasons: one of them being that I really wasn’t interested in meeting another guy to potentially hurt me, and two was that it was already midnight and I had slept through the first half of the night. All of my roommates were out and had left me sleeping in my apartment. On any other night, I usually would have just stayed home, but for some reason I got a burst of energy to go and find my friends. I quickly got dressed and walked over to the strip of bars that was next to my apartment building.

I ended up bumping into Meir, who was flirting with another girl when I saw him. Needless to say, I was super jealous and I ended up talking to him for the rest of the night. We kept in touch after that night, and continued to see each other back in New York City when I graduated a week later. We spent the entire summer together, and although it was definitely a long process until we started seriously dating, here we are. We didn’t establish a stable, healthy relationship for about 6 months. There was a lot of work to be done and trust to be built throughout our relationship, and that’s what I want people to know the most.

People see us as this “perfect” couple on instagram, but that is so far from it. We are definitely happy together and we love each other, but we have our ups and downs as a couple just like any others do. We still fight (although not as much as we used to), and we continue to work towards our goals together on a daily basis. There are times when we definitely need space from each other, but for the most part, I see it as a blessing to be able to work with my boyfriend everyday. It’s so much fun. We help each other grow and become better people, and that’s what the key to a successful and strong relationship is. There have been times when we’ve almost given up on each other, but we’ve always managed to fight through those struggles in order to stay together and continue to be a team.

I hope this post can show you that relationships are never perfect and that there is always work involved to keep it going. And that some relationships that don’t work out will always lead to something better for you in the long run. When my first relationship ended, I thought there would be no one else better for me than him. But life doesn’t work that way. When you are ready for it, the right person will come into your path and you will learn to love again, if you’ve been broken before. Just focus on yourself and being true to who you are, and you will not only succeed in love, but in life! 

Xo,

Lyss

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Our Greece Getaway

GREECE

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There’s a lot of places that I can say have truly left me mesmerized, but Greece made me an entirely different level of speechless. If I could only put into words the amount of love I have for Greece in one blog post, my life would be just a little bit easier 😉 Unfortunately, that’s impossible. The beauty of this country was something like I’ve never experienced before and I am counting the days until I travel back. 

Meir and I traveled to 3 different main islands in Greece. 

Breakdown of our itinerary:

  1. New York -> Athens -> Mykonos
  2. Mykonos -> Santorini
  3. Santorini -> Athens -> Zakinthos
  4. Zakinthos -> Athens
  5. Athens -> New York

As you can imagine, we were definitely all over the place and packed in a ton of different sites to see over the course of 10 days, which is the perfect time to see everything. By the end of the trip, I was a little burned out and we actually did end up getting sick (more on that later in this blog post!) but overall, I feel 10 days was ideal.

MYKONOS

First stop: Mykonos. We left New York and took an overnight flight to Athens airport. When we arrived in Athens, it was 9 AM, and the perfect time to start our adventures. I don’t even think I slept during the flight to Athens, (it is SO hard for me to get a good sleep on any flight) so I was pretty tired but my excitement and my adrenaline rush kept me going throughout the first day! We took a quick connecting flight from Athens to Mykonos an hour after we landed at the Athens airport, which is definitely the easiest and most painless way to make the first day smooth. It sounds like a ton of traveling, but since it was early when we arrived, we still had the entire day in Mykonos to explore, unpack our belongings, and get some amazing photos for sunset hours 😉

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When we finally arrived in Mykonos, we headed straight from the Mykonos airport to our hotel, Cavo Tagoo Mykonos. When we arrived, we were SO taken back by how gorgeous this property was. The entire hotel is painted and decorated white and gold, featuring huge golden doors to greet you and such friendly, welcoming staff. The hotel features a large swimming pool overlooking the ocean and it is a 5 minute walk from the main Mykonos town, which was super convenient during our stay. When we saw our room, we could not get over how magical it really felt to be there. The rooms were also decorated in stunning white and gold decor, everything was immaculate, modern, and super cozy. 

We ended up wanting to stay an extra night with Cavo Tagoo because of how beautiful it really was, and they ended up surprising us with the most insane dream suite of the entire hotel. It had 3 large bedrooms, two upstairs and one downstairs (yes there were multiple levels in this suite!), with enormous glass panorama doors overlooking a private swimming pool, a jacuzzi, which both led out to the ocean view. The living room had a huge communal table for us to work and eat our dinner and dessert (which we ordered in from the room service!!) and a surround sound music system to play our favorite unwinding music as we worked and relaxed together at sunset. When we woke up in the morning, we immediately opened our suite doors out to the pool and took a sunrise dip, and filmed some video footage while having Greek coffees and eating our breakfast. This experience was truly one of a kind, and I could not be more thankful for it.

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The Mykonos town was on another level of perfection. I have never been to Mykonos before, but Meir has in the summer, and he said that September there was SO much better and less crowded/touristy for sure. If you are looking to travel to Greece, we recommend going later in the year, towards September or even October after the “rush”. We were able to navigate the town easily, and explore with our cameras without feeling too overwhelmed by other people who were there visiting and taking photos as well. The streets are just so cute—everything of course is painted white and blue, and there are little fashion and food shops on literally every corner. The beauty of Mykonos and Greece itself is that there are so many different spots all on one street. We passed pastries and coffee shops, book stores and clothing shops, and then busy seafood restaurants, italian restaurants, etc…it is just so diverse and magical. Every step gave us a new experience.

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Second stop: Santorini. We decided to take a 5 hour “quick” ferry to Santorini from Mykonos. Mykonos has a port where you can jump on a ferry, which is the main means of transportation for many. Although 5 hours seems like a lot, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. When we finally arrived in Santorini, we grabbed a cab to our first hotel, which was sitting on top of a cliff in Imerovigli. This is such a quaint and peaceful little town in Santorini, with not a lot of tourists, at least when we were there. Our hotel was a wellness spa and resort called Andronis Concept. It featured its own farm and garden, with animals and fresh fruits and vegetables, a beautiful spa and a private gym, overlooking the most stunning views at sunset hours. We loved it because of the amazing views overlooking Oia—which was across from our hotel, miles away but it was so amazing to see all the lights and the sky glowing at sunset. Our room featured its own hot tub with such gorgeous peaceful views, and the breakfast there was UNREAL. We woke up to fresh fruit platters, freshly baked croissants, cereals, french toast and Greek coffees (need I say more?). It was truly just something out of a dream.

It was close to one of the main towns, Thira, which is a cute area: surrounded by more blue and white streets, restaurants (we had some amazing pizza)!, and clothing boutiques. We spent the day in Thira exploring, shopping and eating. PS – I highly recommend renting an ATV for the week in Santorini if you decide to travel there. Everything is spread out and it is A LOT of walking, so we decided to use an ATV to transport around the island for majority of our trip!

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After our stay in Imerovigli, we spent the next 4 days in Oia, which was my favorite part of the entire island. There are so many different kinds of people, shops, food spots, boutiques, bars and the most beautiful places to capture every single moment. We were in love the moment we arrived. We spent the nights shooting sunset overlooking the city lights on top of a famous photography spot, on the very edge of the island. Everyone at night gathers around in the town for the sunset and watches as it sets down below the sky, and burns a bright, stunning orange as it dissipates. I was blown away by the beauty of it all—everyone just standing, watching in silence and snapping photos peacefully, as the sky changed its colors and faded into night. The people all around us began to clap once the sun had fully set, and I was just amazed. This was by far one of the most breathtaking moments I’ve ever experienced.

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We stayed at 3 different hotels while we were in Oia — the first hotel was called Astarte Suites, and it was a very small, but charming place. It sat directly in the cliffs, and had so many steps in order to get to the property, but the views were so worth every moment of walking! It was definitely great exercise to say the least 😉 The hotel greeted us with glasses of champagne, and we enjoyed the amazing ocean views from our suite balcony. The second hotel was called Santorini Secret, and it was situated right directly in the middle of Oia which was super convenient and nice because the walking was minimal to get anywhere. We did enjoy this, as the hotel had a gorgeous private swimming pool overlooking the ocean, and amazing food (we ordered the spaghetti and ate it by the pool, it was so delicious!), however we DID experience an ant infestation in the morning in our room and we were not too happy about that. There also was not a shower in our room, only a bath, which for some people might be an issue. I am always going to be completely 100% honest about my full experiences anywhere, so yes, it was beautiful but there were some issues during our stay. 

The third hotel we stayed at was called Astra Suites, which was so so amazing and the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. Our suite was overlooking the gorgeous island of Santorini, and the water was such a deep beautiful blue. We had an enormous private suite, with a private jacuzzi and we ordered room service at night as we watched the sky light up. The hot tub was also amazing to just relax with Meir and enjoy our night together.

But…the third hotel was where things started to go downhill for our trip. Everything was truly incredible really up until this point for us, until we both had gotten some sort of food poisoning there and we were in bed sick for the entire next day. We both had fevers, chills and nausea, and we couldn’t work or walk anyway. Meir had it much worse than I did, and he spent the day in bed taking medicine, sleeping and not eating a thing. I felt so terrible, but the hotel was SO understanding and sweet, and they made us hot soup and gave us plenty of water and medicine to take care of us, which I was so thankful for. I ended up feeling a bit better and taking care of Meir as he slept, and we stayed in the room the whole day. Luckily, it seemed to be a 24 hour thing, because the next day we both did feel somewhat functional again and still got to explore a bit, although we definitely took it easy.

After we recovered, we took a ferry back to Athens from Santorini and spent the night there. We had about 12 hours in Athens, and we stayed in an Airbnb. We found a healthy vegetarian spot near our place and ate there for both lunch and dinner, although we both still felt kind of queasy from being sick the day before so the eating was minimal. We got to see the Acropolis and shoot there for sunset while it was lit up, which was really amazing. I loved looking over the city and seeing everything lit up, bright against the darker shades of the sunset. There is a famous photo spot to get these amazing views, and we found it from searching on Google Maps. A ton of tourists were there to shoot the sunset too. Luckily, we were able to snap a photo when no one was around us 😉

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From Athens, we flew on a 5 AM flight to Zakinthos, which is a much less touristy island on the other side of Greece, far from Mykonos and Santorini. Zakinthos in my opinion was my least favorite island, and seemed pretty run down compared to the others, although I think this was Meir’s favorite! It was his birthday, so we wanted to do something special and explore as much as we could for the 24 hours that we had. We rented a car from the airport and we went on our way, with no real plan. We drove through the mountains (there is so much rocky terrain, and everything is so elevated!), where we were. The main town has its own little harbor, and as we drove out of it, the roads turned into hills and we were suddenly surrounded by pure green. It felt like an entirely different country. The air smelt so fresh and clean, and our surroundings were just pure nature. I was so exhausted at this point that I slept half the time in the car while Meir drove around, but about a half hour into the drive, he woke me up to a crowd of goats grazing in the middle of the highway! They were eating grass and just chilling casually on the road, staring at our car as we slowly drove past them. I was freaking out with excitement because I LOVE animals. I just thought they were adorable and I kept trying to take videos of them on my phone, but none of them really came out so great (haha!)

After driving for what seemed like hours, we found the road that led us to one of the most famous spots on the island, Shipwreck Beach. This was probably the most incredible place I’ve ever been, strictly because of the WATER. The water was such a rich, piercing, deep blue that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else in this world, I promise you. The water was sparkling from below as we climbed the mountains and the path to see the views from above. My mind couldn’t simply wrap around the fact that water could be so saturated, it looked completely fake to me. I thought Meir was about to cry of happiness of how gorgeous the view really was as we snapped photos and drone footage. This was my favorite part of Zakinthos, for sure, although at this point of our trip I was so burned out that I felt I almost couldn’t even appreciate it enough.

The rest of the trip was not exactly the smoothest experience. After grabbing lunch, we ended up parking on a hill and another tourist slammed into the back of our car. We ended up spending the next 2 hours in this spot, recording the details and speaking to the police, as both of our cars were rentals. I think at that point all we could do was make jokes and laugh about it. We were still recovering from being sick and then we had gotten into this little accident, so I felt that we didn’t get to experience Zakinthos the way we had hoped for, although there were still a lot of memorable moments and scenic views along the way :). We ended up crashing at a hotel that was super close to the airport, and from there we flew back to New York. I was definitely ready to go home, but the second we left I knew I’d be back to Greece next year. 

The experience we had overall was just truly  unforgettable. I am so thankful and blessed to be able to have experienced such beauty, and I can’t wait to visit again. 

I would love to hear if you are planning on visiting Greece, or if you have already been there and about your experience! 🙂

Xoxo,

Alyssa

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10 TIPS TO GAIN INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS

MY TOP 10 TIPS TO GAIN INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS QUICKLY

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This is by far one of the most frequent questions I get asked, so I decided to make a detailed blog post about it. Here are my top 10 tips on how to grow your instagram account. The overall key is to STAND OUT amongst the rest. Instagram is my full time job, and it requires a ton of time invested, hard work, and commitment to create the content each day. I spend hours a day working on my content, so if you are ready to make this commitment, you will have a much higher change of great success! 😉

  1. Find your purpose. Set a goal for yourself of exactly how you want to brand yourself. I struggled with this idea for awhile and it made it a lot harder to grow and to get people to WANT to follow me. Do you want be known for your photography, your recipes, your workouts, your makeup tips, your music, etc.? Once you figure this out, it’ll be easier to strategize an actual plan for your future and it will establish a clear path for you to follow.
  2. Create a list of what type of content you want to put forth, and how you are going to add value to other peoples lives. I highly recommend putting out both photos AND video. These are both amazing ways to engage your audience with your content, but as video is becoming more of an engaging platform, I would invest time into making short video clips to allow your audience to get to see you on a more personal level. Video tends to bring higher engagement simply because it shows the real you and people will spend more time watching you then looking at your static image.
  3. Write thoughtful captions to engage your readers and the people who see your content. I always see the same repetitive captions on everyone’s photos over and over again and it gets old really fast. Put your thoughts into each photo or video you are sharing and be real. Be authentic to yourself and don’t copy others words, and more importantly…
  4. DON’T REPLICATE PEOPLE’S WORK. This is a problem I see occurring a lot and people wonder why it’s so difficult to grow. Stop copying other bloggers and influencers, and think of your own creative twist. It’s so amazing to get inspired by others work but ultimately the goal is to be someone new, refreshing and unique on the platform where there are so many replicas. Think of how you can create similar (not the same!!) content but with your own unique twist so you are standing out and offering people something new and different. The more creative you get with your content, the more likely people will follow you and define you as your own special self 😉
  5. Invest in your content. It is all about the small details. Dress up with accessories and find a spot that no one has photographed before to shoot at. Spend time planning your outfits, your hair, your location, your captions, whatever it may be. Find props that will accentuate the photo and bring out the colors, for example, a cozy red sweater and a red cup to match the fall colors in Central Park. Also, invest in your equipment. If you are shooting on a mobile device, that is an amazing start – but make sure the lighting is nice so you are able to edit and play with the colors in different photo apps or even better, Lightroom / Photoshop.
  6. Follow, like and comment on other people’s work who you admire. I think engaging with people who you aspire to be like is also an amazing way to grow because their followers may see your comment, and check out your page. If your pages are similar, they may choose to follow you. Sometimes different comments that have a personal feel to them really stand out to me and I’ll check the person’s page out when I read it.
  7. Don’t be afraid to collaborate. Send a direct message to someone who you feel would be an amazing person to work with and collaborate with. It’s always worth a shot. Also, using instagram stories to mention other accounts that you love, and do a “share” exchange of accounts is always great exposure and can attract a mutual exchange of followers to both of your accounts. Find people in your niche and reach out!!!
  8. Tag bigger accounts that repost other people’s work. There are hundreds of accounts that tag and repost other’s content to support their growth, so do your research. For example, there is a huge fashion page with over 8 million followers called American Style that reposts some of my work and I grow from her because she is so big, but she also benefits because she loves my content and receives a ton of engagement on her own page by reposting me. If your content is good enough and fits well with these bigger account’s pages, they may repost you and send their followers to your page.
  9. Use the appropriate hashtags and geotags. I am always researching different spots and tags wherever I am, especially when I travel, and I get to discover new accounts this way ALL the time. Don’t overdo it on the hashtags, but be relevant and use them in an efficient way to categorize yourself. For example, if your feed is all about travel, use the hashtag #travel and #adventure on some of your photos that correlate.
  10. BE YOU!! People can sense when you’re not being genuine, and true to yourself. Don’t force something that isn’t you. If you’re a fashionista, dive into fashion content. I forced myself trying to wear luxury clothes and designs 24/7, and I really don’t have a passion for that, so I started focusing on what I LOVED, traveling and creating scenic photos, and the results were so much better for me. 

I hope some of this tips will help you as you begin posting your content and building your instagram brand! Let me know in the comments if these are posts you would like to see more of, more tips, advice, tricks etc.! 

Xoxo,

Lyss <3

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20 Fun Facts About Me

Where Do I Start…

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Hi! My name is Alyssa and I am a lifestyle and travel creator based in New York City. I’m 24 years old and started creating content about 2 1/2 years ago. I am so excited to hit the refresh button and start a new blog, filled with my travel adventures, my daily style, beauty and wellness tips, and all of my personality in one place. For most of my life, I felt a bit lost, in the sense that I really felt like I had no direction of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take myself into the future. I was often pulled in different directions – one minute I would want to pursue one thing, and before I knew it, I’d lose interest in it and try something new.

It took so much time for me personally to figure myself out, but I always had a passion for writing, taking photos, and just sharing my advice with my friends and family. So, a blog wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to allow you all to know me a little better.

20 Fun Facts About Me

1. I love public speaking (I am not shy by any means!) but I am also introverted at the same time, meaning I like my space, m time to be alone, and I get a little intimidated to approach people first. People often say I look super intimidating and they don’t have the courage to approach me but I feel the same way!! Never be afraid to say hi if you see me around 🙂 I love meeting you all.

2. I played every sport as a kid and did so many activities: everything from soccer to the chess club – because I had so much curiosity. Some of my favorite sports were basketball, volleyball, tennis, and horse back riding. I also grew up surrounded by musical theater and often performed in plays, and took singing lessons for over 10 years!

3. I still sing, and I tend to keep quiet about it but it’s something that I would love to keep doing and pursue more, aside from blogging and creating content 🙂

4. I have two older brothers who taught me a lot more than they probably know. I feel like I was always independent because I had two older brothers who helped me be a confident girl and even how to handle relationships with guys.

5. I have a hormone imbalance disorder called PCOS – poly cystic ovarian syndrome. It affects a lot of women who are in their menstrual years and it’s not really spoken about as often as I believe it should. It causes very irregular menstrual cycles, fatigue, depression, anxiety, acne, and weight gain. I have learned to control it immensely through diet and exercise and I was able to stop taking medication for it, which I am grateful for.

6. I went to college and studied English, with a minor concentration in global studies and cultures. I was always super interested in writing and reading, and I always had so much to say on paper so that’s where the idea of an English major stemmed from.  I honestly was super confused if it was the right path for me and I questioned myself a lot as a student because I wanted to do something different and I wanted to stand out. I didn’t want to be a teacher, I wanted to be a creator and an entrepreneur.

7. On that note, that entrepreneur mentality has always run through my blood. I wanted to work independently since I was 5 years old. I used to collect hundreds of plastic bottles and caps and cash them in, and sell all the things my parents would buy me on eBay. I would get gifts and just sell them and put all of the money in my savings. I would also have my own little garage sales and lemonade stands every weekend in front of my house. It’s so funny to think about now. When I was 10 years old I told my mom, I’m going to be someone different. And I think she really believed in me even from that age when I had no idea what I was really saying.

8. I’ve only had two very serious boyfriends, and one of them is the guy I’m currently dating and working with. You may have seen him featured in a lot of my content already on instagram 🙂 I want to make a separate post about this topic, but my first relationship was very different from my current one and I have learned so much through these relationships.

9. My favorite foods are penne vodka, pizza, avocado / sweet potato sushi, and okay, I’ll throw in a healthy one – sautéed veggies and brown rice in a wrap is my go to clean dinner most nights. I really have an undying love for Italian food but I gave up meat completely, I don’t eat fish, and I try to avoid dairy as much as possible. I would say my diet is mainly vegan but occasionally I still have dairy based products. I’m working on just cutting it out completely because it makes me feel super bloated.

10. My favorite desserts are endless, I have such a strong sweet tooth! I really don’t like candy, I’m more of a cake and cookies type of girl. My sweet tooth diet consists of chocolate lava cake (that warm kind with the exploding chocolate sauce), red velvet cupcakes, and chocolate chip cookies. I also have recently been hooked on this new vegan cookie dough I found at Whole Foods. So so good.

11. All of the places I’ve traveled to so far will be talked about throughout this blog, but my favorite place so far has to be Greece! Santorini and Mykonos were both so individually magical and I can’t wait to go back next summer. I found that September was the perfect time to go, the weather was gorgeous and it wasn’t as crowded!

12. I have two dogs that are my heart and soul, MAC and Tosh. I don’t have them at my New York apartment with me; they live with my parents on Long Island now. They are brother and sister and were named after Macintosh, the computer model. My brother thought of their names because he works at Apple, and he’s a computer nerd hahaha.

13. I love makeup, and I am a total makeup junkie even though I don’t post much about it on Instagram. I love experimenting with all different skincare as well. I’m going to make a different post about this with all of my current must have products! I can’t live without mascara and bronzer!

14. I have an obsession with coconut oil. I use it for literally everything: conditioning my hair, moisturizing my skin, and cooking with it in my foods. I truly believe it heals everything.

15. The number one thing I can’t stand is when someone is the opposite of who they portray themselves to be on social media. I find that being myself is such an amazing way to connect with people and I’m not afraid to be genuine. And show my true self in good and bad times. I find a lot of people put on a show .. but that doesn’t really last.

16. My favorite place to shop right now is Free People, Forever 21, H&M and Zara. I am not a huge fashionista and I never was super into luxury fashion! Although I think dressing well is important for my content and it just makes me feel great when I do. But I like to keep it as affordable as possible when I’m shopping.

17. I get really bad anxiety when I fly. My job consists of traveling everywhere and I know this may surprise some of you but I get the worst nerves in the air and I’m terrified of turbulence!! I feel safest when I have both feet on the ground.

18. If I had to pick one place to live for the rest of my life it would 100% be New York City. People always ask me why I love New York so much and it’s simply because of how much is always happening here and the amount of entertainment and vibrance it offers at literally any time of year. It’s really just amazing. Christmas and summertime are the best times of year!!!

19. My lucky number is 19 and here’s why: my birthday, my moms birthday and my brothers birthday all fall on the 19th. If that’s not crazy enough for you, my grandpa passed away on the 19th, the morning of my birthday. I would say 9 Times out of 10 I am assigned hotel rooms “19”, numbers in line that are 19, and I’ll be in the most random places and just see “19” on the wall, or written in the bathroom stall, or someone’s tattoo walking by, or a neon sign in a diner, etc. My entire existence has been linked to this number and it’s kind of scary but amazing.

20. My YouTube channel is YouTube.com/Effortlyss. If you didn’t know I had a YouTube channel, now you do!

I hope you got to know me a little bit better from this question and answer post. I’d love to answer even more of your questions, so feel free to comment some more below if you’d like! 😉

Xoxo,

Lyss <3

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Road Tripping Through the West Coast…

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 6.25.14 PMScreen Shot 2017-07-11 at 6.25.23 PMScreen Shot 2017-07-11 at 6.25.30 PMScreen Shot 2017-07-12 at 6.58.57 PMSpent the last week road tripping through the West Coast. We traveled to LA, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. All I can say is what an incredible and memorable experience. The heat was insane, it was nearly 120 degrees F throughout the entire trip, but our AC got us through ;).

We had acai bowls on the beach, and then made our way into the desert, where the sunsets were remarkable and the nights were quiet, with the distant howl of coyotes and the ruffle of the wind (or was it the rattlesnakes…could never be quite sure hahaha.) All I know is that it was so peaceful, and made me appreciate this country even more than I ever have before.

I want to know, what are your thoughts on the West Coast? Anything I should re-visit when I’m back again?

-Lyss

http://www.instagram.com/effortlyss

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This City Has My Heart Forever

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This city brings me such motivation 🌟 What is it, exactly, that you want? What is your ultimate goal in life? If you’re feeling lost, the best way to find yourself is to recognize your number one goal – and make a plan to reach that goal. Start by deciding what you want, envision it, and create a vision map or board for yourself. Plan out the exact steps it’ll take to achieve it. The most important part is to believe that you WILL get there no matter what. If it means working until 4 AM some nights, if it means giving up some things in your life that are holding you back, if it means skipping parties to go work, that’s what you’re going to do. It doesn’t matter what you have to do, you’ll do it. Life is too short to settle for what you don’t want to do. Dream big, vision big, and achieve big. We all have a purpose, so why not find that purpose and fulfill it before it’s too late? 🌟#Motivation #Happiness #Travel #NewYorkCity #NewYork

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