Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Summer has begun. This is my last summer as a college student! While I'll still be busy working two jobs, this is my last summer break. So, I have plenty of ideas about what I want to do to make this the best summer yet.

1. The Summer of Healthy. 
My biggest goal for this summer to is to be healthy. In college, it can be difficult to stay healthy. You're busy, you're going out with friends, and your number one priority is often doing well in school. That means that sometimes you put your health on the back burner. I don't want that this summer. I want to focus on putting healthy foods in my body. I want to exercise more. And I want more sleep!

2. Learn new skills. 
I've had a book about learning Java Script on my bookshelf for two years. TWO YEARS. This summer I am going to learn Java Script already.

3. See more good live music outdoors. 
For the past few years I have gone to Basilica Block Party with my best friends back home. It is two nights of live music on three stages in Minneapolis hosted by Cities97, and it is one of my favorite events each summer. This year the lineup for the night I want to go includes, Death Cab for Cutie, American Authors, X Ambassadors, Matt Hires and more. I need to get to this concert.

4. Spend as much time as possible on the Terrace. 
The Memorial Union Terrace at UW-Madison is my favorite part of campus. Although, there is still a little construction going on there, everyone is thrilled that it is back open for the summer. And it is looking better than ever. I can't wait to have some more great summer nights hanging out in our terrace chairs.

5. Get outside. 
Living in between three lakes makes getting outside easy. Being near those lakes never gets old. There are so many beautiful spots in Madison and I want to spend more time exploring new places around here.

A photo posted by Taylor Shiff (@tay_shiff) on

6. Make time for friends. 
This is the last summer that all of the amazing friends I have made these last four years will be together. Some of my friends are studying abroad in the fall and some of us are graduating in December. It's hard to believe that this is the last time we will all truly be together before people start moving away and getting full time jobs.

Last summer in Madison was great, but I know that this one will be even better. I have a feeling it's about to be a summer I'll never forget.

What are your summer goals?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


When we are little, we are often confronted with the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" We are encouraged to be creative. We are encouraged to be imaginative. We are encouraged to be daydreamers

But at some point, that all changes. Society wants you to be creative but in a scientific and analytical way. 

So, you've probably heard the saying "Don't quit your day job," right? It suggests that you should give up on what your dreams, because you'll never make it anyway.

In Tori Kelly's song "Daydream" she says, "Don't quit your daydream." It is such a beautiful lyric, and I wish that more people felt this way.

Imagine. When you have dreams, you have to continually think of new ways to achieve your goals. No matter what your dreams are, it's likely that you spend time thinking about what it will be like when you achieve them. Dedicate time to actively imagining where you want to be and what you can do to get there.

[Related: How to Actively Pursue Your Passions]

Believe. You have to be your own biggest fan. Believe in yourself first, because people can tell whether or not you believe in yourself and that can make all the difference.

Determination. Sometimes your dreams will seem to big--even impossible. Don't let fear get in the way of the rest of your life. You shouldn't abandon your dreams because anyone tells you they are "unrealistic." But don't do something to prove anyone else wrong; do it to prove yourself right.

Love. At the end of the day, it comes down to finding something that you are passionate about. I have been told not to follow my passions. I have been told to do what will get me a job and what will make the most money. I have been told that I will never be financially secure in my industry. And to that I say, that scares me. It is terrifying every day questioning whether or not I will succeed. But then I go back to imaging what it would be like if it worked out. I go back to believing in myself and my abilities. I go back to being determined to making it happen, because I know it is what I want more than anything in this world. What I really want is to really mean it when I say, "I love what I do."

In school, we're told to pay attention. Stop daydreaming. Maybe there is a time and a place. But don't ever let anyone to tell you to give up on your daydream. You have the power to imagine what you want to do with your life, and you have the ability to make it happen.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


My mom taught me manners. Sorry, Dad. The credit goes to Mom on this one. She raised me to write thank you notes for everything. She made sure I never forgot to say please and thank you. She is the reason growing up my friends' parents used to tell me that I was the politest one of their kid's friends. So, when I encounter people who don't have the same level of respect and politeness engrained in them, it throws me off.

My aunt always tells the story of when she took me to see The Wizard of Oz, and that day someone had been mean to me at pre-school. Apparently, she told told me that whoever was mean to me probably did it because they had low self-esteem. After seeing the play, I told her The Wicked Witch probably had low self-esteem, too. So what if someone is "mean" to you as an adult?

We all encounter people that test our patience. The demeaning coworker. The not-so-friendly friend. The customer that is rude for no reason. Growing up, my brother and I often did not see eye-to-eye. My parent's main advice was always: kill him with kindness. The theory is that it's pretty difficult to me rude to someone who is always nice to you. In practice, it isn't always easy. So, you need to be equipped for responding positively.

1. Breathe before you respond. 
Take a moment before you say anything. Your first instinct is to go on the defense, but that might make the matter worse. Inhale. Exhale. Use this time to think about what you want to say, so that you don't say something you could regret.

2. Lead by example. 
We all know the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. This is involves more than being nice. It means be inclusive, it means demonstrating your expectations and it means holding to your standards. Remember when in elementary school you felt bad after not getting invited to someone's birthday party? That never goes away. Sometimes you are going to feel left out. But that doesn't mean you should you do the same to the people who make you feel that way. When you're the bigger person, you do what others don't and you do it sincerely.

3. Do not act out of spite. 
Revenge is not the answer. Let's say you're frustrated because your roommate always leaves dishes in the sink. Leaving your own dishes in the sink won't "teach them a lesson." It will just make more dishes in the sink. And you will inevitably feel worse.

4. Learn to let it go. 
Acceptance is key. Life isn't always going to go your way. And if you spend all of your time being angry about that, you're only hurting yourself. You can't expect anybody to change just because you want them to. So, learning to let go what you cannot change about them will ultimately make you happier.

5. Laugh more. 
Don't take life so seriously. It's way too short, and you have to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we aren't going to like everyone we meet and not everyone we meet is going to like us. But that's okay! Next time someone makes you really mad, make a conscious effort to laugh about it. First of all, if they are trying to get under your skin, it will show them that it didn't work. Secondly, positive energy is contagious (and so is negative energy!). When you hold in your anger, you usually end up letting it out on the people you care about--who don't deserve it. Spread positivity instead.

People are going to try to get you down sometimes in life. Don't let them! You deserve happiness, and don't let anyone make you think otherwise.

Friday, January 29, 2016


January has been an interesting month. I spent the beginning of it with friends and family from home, until I got the flu right before classes started. Luckily, I had a few days to enjoy back in Madison before classes started after I recovered. But as soon as the new semester began, life got hectic again. Last week I worked more than usual on top of getting hit with a ton of assignments quickly.

So now that I have a moment to myself, I decided to share some of my favorite discoveries from January. Here are a few of my favorites from January:

I have been debating about getting a record player for years. While the technology may be a bit outdated, I have always wanted one. The last few weeks it has been on my mind a lot, and since realized I had been thinking about it so much and I had a gift card leftover from Christmas I finally decided to go for it.

The whole album is only 32 minutes. So it is super easy to get through. I recommend listening to it all the way through the first time you listen to it.

Hoodie Allen "Happy Camper" Album

This is my new favorite song these days. It's by The Chainsmokers with ROZES. It has a dreaminess to it, yet when the beat picks up it is definitely a song you can dance to.

Following the Doug the Pug page on Facebook is one of the best decisions I made in January. It is guaranteed to make you smile.

Does it get more American than that? I think not. I had these delightful bites of heaven a few weeks ago, and I will never look at regular cheese curds the same way.

Do you have any new favorites this week?

Thursday, January 7, 2016


So far my winter vacation has consisted of a series of naps in between watching How I Met Your Mother and spending time with people back home. I spent a few days watching my little sister before she went back to kindergarten. I saw a few movies. And I took pictures with some of my best friends (like the one above). 

Now, after 5 and half seasons of HIMYM, I'm starting to feel ready to go back to school. I have finally had the time to workout, and boy is my body feeling it. My legs ache, my back is sore, and I have 11 weeks left of a workout program I agreed to do with my roommate. (We'll see how long that lasts.)

The thing is as soon as school starts, I'm going to regret wanting to go back. Everything gets busy so fast. I'm just running out of activities. I haven't felt much like writing these days. Lately I have held myself up to impossible standards of finding the perfect subject to pick up blogging again after my impromptu hiatus. But I am making myself come up with something, because you can only watch so much HIMYM before having an existential crisis about the state of your life. It's weird how much I can relate to that show when the main characters are in their thirties. 

On top of all that, every time I go on Facebook another person is headed off to study abroad. And it's a little bit difficult to watch, not only because some of them are my friends, but also because up until a few months ago I thought for sure I would be one of them. 

But I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and there is something else in store for me back here. For now, since I have watched so much How I Met Your Mother, here are a few lessons I have learned along the way: 

1. No matter how well a first date goes, saying "I love you" is NEVER appropriate. 
But somehow you can recover from it and keep this person in your life (if your name is Ted Mosby)? 

2. If someone is meant to be in your life, they will come into it (or come back into it) when they are supposed to. 
Letting go of someone you care about it always difficult. Ted and Robin have been all over the place, but there's no doubt that in some shape or form they are meant to be in each other's lives. 

3. Life goals can change. And maybe they should. 
Everyone in the group has gone through a series of life changes. Marshall dreamt of being an environmental lawyer, but the reality of living in New York and trying to raise a family with Lily meant settling for a corporate job to survive. 

4. Sometimes dating isn't about "finding the one", but more about figuring out what you want out of relationships with other people. 
Ted was determined to find the one. He was ready to start find the woman he was "supposed to be with", and start a family. But it took a lot longer than he expected. But all of the women along the way helped him grow and figure out what he really wanted out of a relationship. 

5. Growing up is hard. 
At twenty years old, it's really easy to think that by 30 I'll have it all figured out. But after 5 seasons of HIMYM, I've realized that growing up is an ongoing process, and no one actually has it all figured out.

6. The journey is just as important as the destination. 
Once Ted was complaining about how he wanted to find his wife and start his life now, but Robin reminded him that it was about the journey and not just having the life. He wanted to skip past all of the stuff in between and end up with his perfect family. But you have to keep in mind, that it doesn't end there. Your life doesn't start once you land your dream job or find your "soulmate." It's happening RIGHT NOW, and you have to be present in every part of the journey. 

7. Life doesn't follow your timeline.
This one goes hand in hand with the last point, but I thought it was worth making its own separate point. You can plan your life out as much as you want. You can set dates for when specific life events should happen. You can envision where you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years. But nothing ever happens according to plan, and nothing is wrong with you for not having the life you thought you would have by now. 

8. You are AWESOME. 
Barney Stinson may be one of the most overconfident, narcissistic playboys of all time. But he got one thing right: you are awesome, and you should believe that.   

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


'Tis the season to give your friends ridiculous Christmas gifts. Figuring out what to buy takes forever! Forget Black Friday. Save some time this Thanksgiving for stuffing your face spending with family, and be the star of the Christmas party with the #1 White Elephant gift.

1. Clip In Man Bun

In case you haven't heard, 2015 is the year of the man bun. Help your boyfriend or best guy friend fit in this season with this gem of a hair accessory. And can you believe that 85% discount?! What a deal!

2. Kale T-Shirt

Who needs a Yale T-shirt when you can have the obviously superior Kale T-shirt? Nobody actually goes to Yale anyway. And everyone LOVES kale!

3. Giant Carrot for Loneliness

Priced at $100 this is quite the commitment. But you will definitely take a bite out of the competition with this one. Plus, you could potentially be helping a single friend make it through the holidays. Who needs a boyfriend when you have a carrot to cuddle with?

4. Unicorn Ski Mask for Glasses Wearers

How many times have you caught yourself thinking, Why don't they make ski masks that don't discriminate against glasses wearers? I'm sure it's caused many sleepless nights. But don't fret, THE SOLUTION IS HERE.

5. Flask Tie

James Bond had a watch that helped him save the day. Give your friends the gift that will save the night.

6. Mini Beer Pong

Can't fit a pong table in your tiny college apartment? The beer pong gods have answered your prayers. With this gift your friends will be the hit of EVERY college party.

7. Portable Wine Sack

Forget Franzia. Make slapping the bag classy with the present that allows you to bring your wine anywhere.

8. Flask Book Box

Because who actually reads books in college?

With these gifts, your friends will definitely leave saying, "All I want for Christmas is [insert your name here]." May your Christmas party be as successful of as the sales of these well-reviewed gold mines.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


This topic has been on my mind a lot lately: what does it mean to be authentic? By definition authentic is synonymous with genuine. Spending a little more thought on the subject, I realized that authenticity is relative. Some might say that the most authentic people present themselves in the same manner to everyone around them, no matter who that person is. But I don't buy that. Can you behave differently around your boss and your best friend and still be authentic? Yes. Of course.

The thing is sometimes this line between being genuine and fake starts to get a little bit blurry. I'm thinking particularly of with social media. Recently, through a controversial video to the world, a "social media star" has announced she is quitting social media, due to the damage it has done to her as a person. She claims that all of the things she did to present herself as this perfect, happy girl who has it all, made her feel lonely, depressed, and more insecure than ever. Her opposers argue that it wasn't merely social media that caused her to have these feelings, but rather, her own insecurities were exacerbated by her social media fame (among other critiques of her, such as the fact that she is begging for money in the end, but that's a whole different story). 

What I want to focus on is this idea of social media and identity tied together. You see, looking at both sides, it seems that the issue isn't only social media nor her insecurities. The real issue is with society. Social media is a platform for sharing. And everyone has insecurities. But she makes some interesting points, nonetheless, about how we perceive people through social media, and they really stuck with me. 

Recently, one of my good friends has drawn back on social media, only following people she is close with. When you are only following the people you really know, you know what you see is what you get. While when you're following these strangers or social media phenomena, their real lives could be totally different than the ones they have constructed on these online platforms (such as the girl in this video). I have read dozens of posts from bloggers about their own insecurities and anxieties. Many envy other bloggers, and feel that they are little in comparison (judging by numbers, of course). 

But it isn't just bloggers. We all do it. Every one of us that engages in these online behaviors knows that one person who seems to have "the life." This connection posts pictures from lavish vacations and selfies that convey they obviously don't have any flaws. So, what's behind those pictures? Did they post on Instagram a picture of the divorce papers they just filed? Or the D they received on their last midterm? Probably not. 

We tend not to flaunt our failures or setbacks to the world, but in not doing this we are not truly representing ourselves. The people in the closest to me might know these details about me, but the people I am connected with on social media will only see my "best self." Yes, sometimes I share my fears and anxieties through my blog, but I don't always put them out there. And most people don't have blogs.

So what am I really getting at? If you take anything away with this: life isn't about likes.

It isn't about how many followers you have, or how many connections you have on Facebook. Focus on presenting your authentic self to whoever you meet. Don't seek validation by numbers. You are such a beautiful, wonderful person, and no amount of likes can represent your value on this Earth. Next time you are crafting that clever Instagram caption, after carefully editing it, think: are you putting this out there because you want to share the moment with your friends or are you doing it for the likes?

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Lately, I have not been on my blogger game. I have been slacking, and for a few reasons:

Why I am Failing at Blogging

1. I am a full time student. 

Junior year is in full effect. And boy am I feeling it. I'm drowning in an endless sea of midterms and projects. Work keeps going from being super busy to only a shift a week, and it is always the worst when I have no time to spare. I barely have enough time to get all of my homework done, nonetheless keep up a blog.

2. I am prioritizing a lot of over blogging. 

My number one priority is school, followed by work, maintaining my relationships with family and friends, and being an active member in all of my extra-curriculars. Since becoming a managing editor for Her Campus, my schedule has filled up even more, and while I love the position, it has sure added an extra stress.

3. I am not keeping up with other blogs. 

I wish that I had time to read my favorite blogs all the time. Thankfully, some of my favorite bloggers are also full time college students, or trying to adjust to life outside of college. So they are in the same boat, and not posting as much nowadays. But I really need to start actively reading other people's work more!

4. I am not making a big enough effort on social media. 

While I have been trying to participate a little more on Twitter lately, I haven't been interacting with other bloggers enough. I haven't been posting enough articles. And the only reason I have been posting on Facebook is to share Her Campus articles, and occasionally I sprinkle in some other article sources to spice it up a bit. Don't even mention Instagram or Pinterest, or anything else that I don't even have time to think about these days. I'm lucky if I get the chance scroll through Instagram for a few minutes twice a week.

5. I am questioning my motivations for blogging. 

This one has been on my mind for a little while. I read a post on The Daily Tay over the summer that really resonated with me about her motivations for blogging. I can't remember the exact title of the post, but she was explaining her desire to write more creative fiction stories, instead of blogging as much. She also felt like she was blogging for some of the wrong reasons or the posts that she wrote were just geared to getting more page views. And I have definitely felt that! I have been trying to make more of an effort to write about subjects that are important to me, rather than click-bait listicles that I have become accustomed to because of Her Campus. Don't get me wrong, I love Her Campus and I love blogging. But sometimes I want to go back to what this blog really started as, and I want to show my authentic self. I don't want to just share lists of things that people might get a laugh out of.

I know that I haven't been doing such a great job lately, but I promise to be better. That doesn't mean I'll be posting on here 5 times a week. I certainly don't have time for that. And my priorities will probably remain the same for now, because I really value my education (I mean I should with how many thousands of dollars I am spending on it). But I intend to create more meaningful content when I can that reflects my own values and personality, while trying to provide some value for my readers, as well.

Thank you so much to everyone that takes the time to make this little space of the Internet so special to me. I truly appreciate everyone that supports me so much!

Is there anything you could improve upon? 
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