Happy New Year to another quarter life crisis!
It's usually around January 1st that I start panicking about my life choices and wonder, "WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!" I enthusiastically and haphazardly apply to the first 715 jobs I lay my eyes on and embark on a journey of unfulfilling and poorly thought out decisions.
You wouldn't know it from my social media profiles. I get snapchats daily asking me how I'm so enthusiastic, composed, positive, and put together. I'm always reluctant to answer these questions. So let's get real for a second: I'm full of shit!
Social media is a facade. I post photos that align with my portrayed "brand". You're seeing a fleeting second of a minute of an entire day, in which I probably spent the majority of just racking my brain, trying to figure out why I'm not where I expected I'd be at this age. Oftentimes, I spend an entire day capturing months worth of content. 1 day of work for 60 days of posts... there's a lot I'm not showing you. But alas, it's my job to "have fun" so that you can live vicariously though my adventures and experience them with me in live-time.
Since you've been with me on this weird journey for a time, be it years or just this moment, I want to break it down a bit for you: we're all faking it! Nobody is as consistently happy, cool, and put-together as they appear online... and if they are, I want some of what they're having! But life has ups and downs, and typically, when it comes to social media, you're only seeing the highly stylized and glamorized snippets of a person's life. It's no wonder we think everyone is killing it except for us...
So full transparency, here's what's really going on in my life: I associate my self-worth with my career. I choose a career built off rejection. Rather than cherish the journey and celebrate my successes, I focus on what comes next. I'm never fully satisfied when I do achieve career milestones, and I regularly question why I'm still trying. Perhaps toxic relationships have played into my lack of self-worth and insatiable desire for work. But you see none of this on my socials. This pristine, confident image I display online is far from reality. I just don't want to bore you with my career anxiety, familial drama... it would be all too frequent and uncomfortable for the both of us.
Still, it's impossible to always be"on". Feigning happiness is exhausting when your life is spiraling out of control. Cliche as it sounds, life is a roller-coaster, and bullshit doesn't discriminate! Everyone has good days and bad days, but social media tends to disregard the lows while illuminating the highest highs. A friendly reminder: don't be so quick to judge. Don't compare yourself to what you see online. Take everything with a grain of salt. We're all figuring out what we're doing. If it looks like I'm living my best life, that's because I've mastered the art of faking it. I'm wading through quick sand like everyone else...
So will I continue posting stylized photos and produced videos? Yes, probably... damn straight! It's fun! But going forward, I'll make a valiant effort to be more transparent when life isn't as fun.. because nobody's perfect, and as Kendrick once said, "when shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?" Well son, it's time to find out! *Sorry, I had to! I love Kendrick!
Quarter life crisis? Okayyy, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. But here's how I handle said "quarter life crisis": I hate myself and freak out and freak out and freak out and.. did I mention I freak out? Then I hit a wall, realizing that this self-deprecating cycle of dwelling in self-hatred is unproductive. There's only one way to go. I slowly pick myself off the ground and surround myself with people who both uplift me and help me see the best parts of myself. I reflect on the things I can control and remind myself of what I have achieved. I focus on the activities and people that make me happy, and I try, to the best of my abilities, to disconnect my self-worth from my career(s). I remind myself that it's okay to not be okay 100% of the time, and I try to focus on the moment versus the future. Over time, the pieces fall back into place. And I'm okay knowing that the puzzle will fall apart again in due time, and that I'll have to put the pieces together once again. Sure, you don't see these waves online. But now you know that, shocker: nobody's perfect!
In short, before you compare yourself to anybody online, whether it's me, that girl from your high school with the perfect hair *ugh*, a supermodel, or a social media influencer, remember: we've all had diarrhea at some point in our lives. And frankly, we're all figuring out what the f*ck we're doing!
Our selfie-obsessed culture is changing the landscape in which we consume content. We are no longer satisfied with just observing art, we want to be a part of it. And when our food is just as colorful as our Instagram timelines, we prioritize appearance over taste, and shamelessly post the uneaten rainbow grilled cheese sandwich, finding comfort in our 2000 likes... despite the $12 price tag. I hate it when I'm out to dinner with my friend who spends more time asking me for "candid photos," as she seamlessly strikes the perfect "i have no idea there's a camera taking a photo of me holding my Chardonnay as I stare longingly into the distance" pose, than inquiring about my life or reflecting on her own. She barely touches her plate, unless it's to capture all three courses on her Snapchat story, before we close our tab and proceed to the colorful wall outside in pursuit of a few additional snapshots. I loathe this behavior because I'm equally responsible here.
I constantly search for the perfect insta-worthy locations to cushion my feed when truth-be-told, I could be expending that energy on finding things that bring me joy, like eating chocolate or cuddling my dog. Perhaps that's why i was intrigued by Happy Place, a pop-up exhibit in Downtown Los Angeles intended to bring the best of both worlds: joy and the perfect selfie. I willingly shelled out the $35 ticket price to see what the fuss was about. *Fun fact, for the exorbitant cost of $199, or something along those ridiculous lines, Happy Place offered visitors a VIP experience including a faster entrance.. and a personal photographer.* Happy Place shamelessly embraced the concept of being a selfie-centric pop-up where you pay to obtain content. Would I find happiness? Would I find the perfect photo? I got a solid dose of both, with a dollop of self-hatred.
My best friend, Emily, and I showed up thirty minutes prior to our given time slot in our camera-ready outfits and a bag of additional "costume changes". We were paying $35 to take cute photos, and we intended on milking every penny for all it's worth. For such an Instagram-oriented pop-up, the lighting was sub-par. Still, we photographed on, and something about being surrounded by a slew of Insta-hoes shamelessly striking poses made me feel less crappy about paying money to take photos of myself.
Joy: Emily and I were dying of laughter at our ridiculously methodical photography game-plan, which in turn, resulted in joy. Happy Place consisted of numerous rooms, and once you entered the pop up for your chosen time slot, you could stay until closing. However, once you left a room, there was no revisiting that room. This played to our advantage: as our large group grew frustrated with the overcrowding in a given room, proceeding onwards to the next, Emily and I hung back, claiming our territory against the most Insta-worthy walls.
Perfect photo: I wouldn't say I scored the perfect photo, but I did snag some solid content. As you see in my photos here, the rooms were varied and visibly pleasing. Still, as I mentioned before, the lighting was not ideal.
Self-hatred: I haven't reached the pinnacle of shameless social media enthusiast. I always feels somewhat guilty when passerby watch me posing for an Instagram photo. In this particular scenario, those pangs of guilt were quickly diminished by the comfort I felt knowing that we were all here for the same reason.
Was it worth the ticket price? That's open to interpretation. Things are what you make of them, and Emily and I made this an entirely fun experience. But if you appreciate the finer things in life, like genuine conversations and experiencing the world in live-time, this one's not for you.