What do showers, stoplights and internet outages have in common?
They all happen to be situations where I’ve experienced great epiphanies.
I was driving home from my friend Jillian’s house.
My friends and I had just spent the past several hours pretending to watch reality television, resorting to our usual ritual of discussing our disheveled romantic lives and plans for the upcoming week. After the third or fourth mention of various high school couples that have ‘finally’ called it quits, I’d had my fill.
Early 2000’s teenaged-angst tracks filled my speakers (what else?!) as I pulled my Jeep up to the stoplight of an entirely vacant intersection. Something instantly caught my eye.
It was nearly impossible to miss the gigantic mass that was our newly-built high school which loomed ominiously to my left. As it is customary to react when thoughts of high school are unearthed from their proper burial, I shuddered. The building was lit up, an eerie beacon in the dark night. I glanced up at an unfinished stairwell, thinking of how many feet will eventually trudge up and down its steps, creating indentations from years of wear. Those feet will belong to future highschoolers; some bright-eyed and blissfully unaware of the hardship they’ll encounter in the future, some, secretly depressed and desperately trying to live up to others’ expectations... Some, destined for pristine, Ivy-league schools and white picket fences, and others, confined to a life of minimum-waged worry.
Call me cynical, but high school wasn’t exactly the best time for me.
I gripped my steering wheel harder. I was instantly flooded with horrific memories from high school. Obviously I’m being incredibly dramatic, but nonetheless, I made a number of mistakes within the peeling paint of its walls. I was weak. I was a pushover. My persona back then practically screamed: ‘Please! Walk all over me! I’ll tell you ‘I’m fine’ even though I’m secretly dying inside! Don’t worry about me!’
The day I crossed the stage at graduation in my mustard-colored gown, I think I might have taken a deep breath for the first time in four years.
Glancing back at the yellow squares of light protruding from the monstrous, brick walls, my mind began to race. If I had a chance to go back and shake some sense into highschool-Katy— tell her what to do, say, wear, and act— would I take it? Instantly, my life was beginning to feel like a clichéd movie plot.
Junior year I was utterly convinced that love-at-first-sight existed. A boy who sat opposite me in AP Stats with disheveled hair and perpetually scraped knees held my affections for the entirety of two semesters. Did I ever work up the courage to talk to him? Of course not. But did I spend an extra twenty minutes every morning making my hair appear effortlessly messy when it was realistically pin-straight? Absolutely.
Last week, I found myself in my local bar, face-to-face with this same boy, three years later. His hair was still the same floppy mess that it was in high school, but he’d traded his scraped knees for a pair of beer-stained khakis.
“Sup,” he’d addressed me with a nod of his head.
Two semesters of utter infatuation and extra hair-primping, yet all I was offered was a haphazard “Sup”? Bullshit. I’d forced my lips into a hollow smile.
Thank God I now know that I deserve better than that, I’d thought to myself.
The sad truth: a simple ‘Sup’ from this same boy back in high school would’ve sent me on a power trip to the moon.
The way I see it, though: that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
All of the f*ck-ups, tears, and fawning over unaware, preoccupied boys give way to the good stuff in life. And I mean, the gooood stuff. The laughing-'til-your-stomach-aches type of 'good stuff.'
The type of moments and people that aren’t simply presented to you without any sort of previous effort. High school isn't forever, but its effects are lasting.
Life is kinda like Mario Kart.
You simply can’t unlock any of those snazzy Bubble Bikes without a little bit of elbow grease in the time trials. Life can be messy. Sure, you’ll wipe out on a few banana peels and red shells in your lifetime, but who's to say that you won’t cross that checkered finish line on top eventually? You know the winning characters’ little victory-dances at the end of each race while the cheesy song plays in the background? That could be you one day. Keep your head up. Chain Chomps bite everyone in the ass at some point or another.
Remember those times when you’d think you were in first place, only to realize you’ve been looking at the wrong player’s screen the entire time and you’re actually aimlessly crashing into walls? Sometimes we get way too invested in other peoples’ business to tend to our own sinking ships. With a little focus and attention paid to your own aspirations, you’ll blossom.
If I had the chance to go back in time and whisper in highschool-Katy’s ear, it would only be to say: “The best is yet to come.”
Intro photo courtesy of Maxim.
Take a millennial who makes a habit of gallivanting around city streets, throwing back pretty cocktails with her equally-dazzling possé of friends. This said-millennial (let’s call her ‘typical millenial’) is also heavily involved in her Instagram account, posting up heavily-filtered photos with captions like, “my bitches!!!” and “TGIF.” Post-night out, this same millennial is looking a lot less pristine. Cue the sprawled-on-the-bathroom-floor “I’m never drinking ever again” snapchats and perpetual hangover. Remember that bright-eyed, squad selfie from last night? Well, those eyes have since reddened, and the squad is now scattered— each taking refuge in their own disheveled bed. Will our typical millennial snap a selfie for Insta in her current state of hangover Hell? I wouldn’t bet money on it.
We’ve all been there.
The truth of the matter is: no one is going to post a selfie when they’re not feeling or looking their absolute best. If a filter can’t hide that zit or bloated stomach after one too many helpings of Panera mac-n-cheese, you bet your ass our typical millennial won’t be posting.
This, my friends, is why we simply *cannot* take everything we see on Instagram to heart.
That model in a bikini carelessly posing with a McDonald’s Big Mac? What we don’t see are those endless hours she spends busting her ass at the gym every morning, counting calories, watching her friends waste away like frail, paper dolls.
Did she even eat it? We’ll never know.
I was heavily inspired to write this article by a recent conversation that I had with a friend of mine that I haven’t seen since high school. Picture the loudest, most iconic male member of your high school student body. Throw in a starting position on the football team among various other inconceivable accomplishments, and that’s my friend to a T. Meanwhile, I was the girl with two left feet and an obsession with AP Style who was mocked and scorned. Almost three years later, I have half a million YouTube followers and a blue check mark on Instagram under my belt.
Aside from who we were in high school, both of us can relate to the warped reality that defines modern-day social media. This guy friend of mine proceeded to ask me how my life is currently, given the fact that I’m constantly posting photos from my various trips all across the country.
He was insinuating that I really looked like I had my shit together nowadays, based on my Instagram profile.
“I’m not really that interesting,” I’d said, truthfully. However, thinking back to my most recent slew of photos taken in foreign settings clad with expensive handbags and clothes…
Shit, I’d thought. SHIT. I’m guilty, too.
Recently, I did a shoot with a kick-ass photographer that I’ve become great friends with. After receiving the photos from the shoot, I remember quickly eliminating every photo plagued with even a microscopic view of flab, cellulite or fly-away hair. Don’t even get me started on all of the apps that have the power to zap away all of these imperfections with the swipe of a finger.
But I can’t be so hard on myself. We all do it, don’t we?
Whether you’re even truly aware of it or not, you’re guilty of it. I’m guilty of it. We’re all guilty of it.
The thing is, this was never really an issue before the current decade. No one was really that concerned about how their lives ‘looked’ to a undetermined number of eyes on the Internet. It’s a current state of affairs that is both aiding and ruining our lives at the same time.
This isn’t an instructional blog post, begging my readers to ‘PLEASE stop posting happy photos of yourselves eating cool food in cool places.’ I’m simply hoping to shed light on the current reality.
Here is what I know to be true: Most people aren’t as happy as they are on Instagram. And if they are, by some stroke of luck, they aren’t that happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are so many moments that we don’t see. We don’t see the panic attacks, the tears, the homesickness, the hurt… All of these incredibly human emotions, we’ll never see while scrolling through social media.
Because they’re ugly, they’re difficult to talk about, and most terribly of all: they make people uncomfortable. People don’t like to talk about the things they’re uncomfortable with.
We can’t beat ourselves up over what we see on Instagram.
We simply cannot look like the people we see on our feeds. This is due to the fact that sometimes, those people don’t even look like that themselves.
photo courtesies available on my other blog: katybellotte.tumblr.com