Thought Catalog
December 17, 2015

The Truth Behind Instagram We All Should Be Talking About

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Shutterstock / KC Slagle
Shutterstock / KC Slagle

Last weekend I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram. Passing by picture upon picture of the “big game”, or the sky, or the people trying to prove they still have “a life.” I see the face of a man I once loved flash over my screen. Then a dog, a drink, an inspirational quote…

Wait… SCROLL BACK UP. There is a girl. With the man who once was mine. A stranger girl. A NEW girl. Kissing his scruffy cheek. He’s smiling. The same smile that I used to put on his face.

He is dating. He is officially telling the world or anyone who cares to follow his world that he is in a new relationship. He is happy. He has a happy girl who wants to kiss his face with the mountain range and radiant sun flawlessly behind them. They went on a happy hike that day. In their warm, happy coats and hats. Probably laughing and holding hands and just being all happy, happy, happy.

And there I am. Phone to my nose. Taking in the image of this happy guy in this happy scene. The same, familiar snapshot that used to feature me as that happy girl.

I’ve never felt so alone.

That was until yesterday. I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram again. Pictures upon pictures of food and family and airplane wings. I see the face of my first love, the man I once claimed as “The Love of My Life” flash over my screen. I did not pass this one up. My thumb hovered over the screen as my heart slowly sank. I starred at him and then…at her.

There is a ring. On the finger of the girl he chose over me. A gorgeous ring. A ring that I once thought would be mine. Her left hand perfectly placed on his chest. He’s not smiling. But, then again, he never really liked to smile.

He is engaged. He is officially telling the world or anyone who cares to follow his world that he has found The One. He is in love. He has a happy girl who said, “YES!” and together they are ready to take on forever.

They will be celebrating and planning. She will be caught off guard by her glistening diamond while she types on her keyboard at work. People will be reaching for her hand for months exclaiming, “It’s so BIG! It’s so BEAUTIFUL!” She will announce the same date over and over. She will try on white dresses and ask her best friends to be bridesmaids via the label of a wine bottle. She will spend dollars upon dollars and hours upon hours stressing over insignificant, yet seemingly earth-shattering dilemmas. He will drink a lot of beer. And then, they will be married.

And there I am. Phone to my nose. Taking in this handsome man in this monumental scene. The same, familiar moment that I used to daydream about…featuring me as the happy girl showing off her spectacular ring after he came up from one knee.

And again, I’ve never felt so alone.

Until right here, right now. Because it’s suddenly clear to me that I am not alone at all. We have all thought these thoughts and made these assumptions about the people we once knew and the pictures we now see.

But, what’s real is the fact that I have no idea what these pictures are truly of. I no longer know the people in them. I have no idea if my second love is really happy. I have no idea if my first love is really in love. The only people who definitely, for sure, absolutely, positively know that about them… is themselves.

Every day we create stories in our heads based upon pictures that are carefully staged and filtered and captioned. Pictures that result in us feeling mediocre or misplaced, even though, quite often our actual lives are pretty awesome.

I may not be near a mountain range kissing a scruffy cheek. And I’m not holding up a sparkly diamond ring. I am not supposed to be the girl in those photographs. Because I am supposed to be right here, doing what I love, writing about it all.

The next time you feel alone and maybe even ridiculously SINGLE, remember this. You never truly know the real story. And you never will. Absolutely nothing is as it seems, especially on Instagram.

So, peel your eyes away from the pictures and go live your truth.

Undocumented. Unattached. Unfiltered.

The reality is none of us have a damn clue about anything or anyone. And that is good.

Because the only person that ever needs to know whether or not you’re happy or in love or alone…is YOU. TC mark

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