My alarm goes off and I roll over to grab it before it wakes my sleeping boyfriend. It’s 6:30 a.m. and there’s no real reason for me to be awake because I’m definitely not going on a run like I told myself I would. I could easily sleep for another hour, at least, but instead I slide open my phone, typing the passcode wrong the first three times because I’m so groggy. I check my text messages and forget to reply to any of them in my quest to open Instagram as I remember the picture I posted the night before. The app opens and the orange icon notifying me that I have new likes pops up. I feel my heart start to beat faster as I scroll through the pictures, forgetting for a moment that I opened it to check my notifications.
Picture after picture show me snapshots of people’s majestic lives. All lives, I assume, that are much more glorious than mine ever will be. I scroll through an engagement photo with a caption declaring that soul mates are real. I immediately wonder if the couple ever argues about bed crumbs the way my boyfriend and I do. I continue to scroll and see a picture of a girl on a beach wearing a swimsuit that I could never afford, looking a way that I can never achieve. I make a mental note to bring workout clothes with me to work so that I’ll make myself go on a hike later and improve my own beach bod. I get to the next picture, a delicious example of food porn if I’ve ever seen one, and start to feel guilty about the Trader Joe’s burrito I heated up in the microwave a mere eight hours before. As I get to the last picture that I haven’t already seen I double tag the stylish outfit to discover where on earth this woman bought these clothes before I realize I have already decided to get rid of seven different pieces of clothing in my own closet. I continue my morning scroll, picture after picture, unknowingly deciding to change a part of my life with each swipe of my thumb.
My arm starts to tingle and go numb from holding it in front of my face for so long. I look at the clock, it’s 7:00 a.m. I close out of Instagram, forgetting all about my notifications, and open Facebook. I am immediately met with a new job announcement in the form of, “I’m so happy to finally announce…” and as I scroll through the comments of congratulations and see the number of likes, I wonder if I chose the right path for my life. I continue to scroll and see yet another relationship status, this one showcasing a beautiful bouquet of roses that was seemingly bought “just because.” I look over at my sleeping boyfriend and wonder if I should be worried that he hasn’t bought me a bouquet of roses just because. I continue to scroll until I am met with a picture collection of a college friend’s brand new house. I click through the pictures, looking at all the empty rooms, simultaneously thinking about my tiny studio apartment that I struggle to pay for each month. Before I know it, it’s 7:30 a.m. and I need to start my day. But I haven’t even browsed Twitter yet.
As I drag myself out of bed and wake my sleeping boyfriend I find that I am in a bad mood, and have no explanation as to why. I am agitated with my boyfriend for reasons I can’t explain other than to say that he did not surprise me with a bouquet of roses or leave a cute note on my Facebook wall like Lindsey’s boyfriend did. I am insecure and worrying if we are actually a good fit, and I feel stupid as I get in the shower. By the time I’m finished I am dreading my entire day and consider going back to bed. On my way to work, I think about the morning commute and pressure myself to think of something funny to tweet. I come up with nothing which I take as a sign that I am no longer good at my job which, of course, is to create content. It’s barely 9 a.m. and I am already feeling defeated. As I sit down at my desk to start my workday, I open up Facebook and Twitter to see what I missed on my morning commute. I am reminded, tweet after tweet, that I have nothing remotely clever to say. I close out of the tab and stare at Tumblr until my email informs me that we have free coffee coming into the office. When it arrives I run to the table to grab some, already opening up my camera to capture the perfect Instagram picture. I don’t even drink coffee, but I didn’t have plans that evening and wasn’t sure I would have another Instagram-worthy moment all day. As I post the picture and watch the likes roll in, I feel like a fraud.
And the truth is, I am a fraud. I complain quite frequently about the types of people on social media. I get annoyed when people post their engagement pictures and write off pictures of flowers as a cry for attention. I roll my eyes when I see a new job announcement status and laugh quietly to myself when I see a woman posing with her hand on her hip, looking at the ground on Instagram. But I want to be that person. I think we all do.
I want to be the person who is engaged to someone I love and spends a couple of hours being photographed because of it. I want to be the person who gets a new job that I am very excited about, and I want to the person who is dating someone who will buy them flowers just because. I want to be the person who poses for a picture that others see and think is beautiful. And I want to be the person that is so content and happy with their own life that they don’t have to look at others with envy.
But I’m not that person.
I am the person who will post a picture of me on a hike when I am actually lying on my couch watching Teen Mom to make my life seem more interesting. I am the person who posts pictures of my boyfriend and I when we are having an argument because I feel insecure about our relationship and want it to appear perfect. I am the person who begs my coworkers to take pictures of me outside when I like my outfit, and I am the person who uses likes and favorites as a way to feel better about myself.
There have been times in my life when I wanted to feel happy so badly that I projected it on social media until I felt as if I was. But in truth, the happiest moments were spent completely away from social media, laughing about something that I couldn’t explain via a tweet and looking at someone’s smile that could never be captured in an Instagram.
You can find pictures of me smiling on the beach, hanging out with friends, or cracking a joke on social media. But what you don’t see is me lying in my bed for eight hours straight with a heating pad and painkillers, crying about my uterus pain. You don’t see the arguments I have with my friends after I act like a selfish brat and they call me on it. You don’t see my body in angles that don’t flatter it, and you rarely ever see my face unfiltered. You don’t read my real thoughts and feelings, only edited versions of them. And you certainly do not always see me.
Social media is a place that allows us all to pretend to be someone that we are not. It is a place that allows us to have a life that we do not actually have, and it is a place that makes it too easy to forget who we really are.
But I am tired of worrying about what others will see.
I just want to be me.