During some of the most stressful times this year, reading xoJane got me through the day. When the ill-tempered clients in beauty school degraded the fuck out of me (not in a fun sexy way) I would seek solace in the corner Starbucks with a cup of green tea and a nice article about lipstick.
Now, I get to be a part of this site that I truly believe in and love. And I'm really excited about it. This excitement has translated to me talking about it, posting about it online, and being pretty shameless.
I don't feel bad about that and I don't think other people should feel bad about their accomplishments or contain said excitement either.
There’s a tendency to attack anything that could be considered "bragging" on social media. Boasting on Instagram, Twitter, and even posting engagement ring photos are all considered to be faux pas.
But this is total bullshit - it takes the fun out of things. It also sends a conflicting message to people, especially young women: "Do it all! But don't think you're special."
I don't see the point of that. I think life is hard enough without having to monitor how happy you are. Is it jealousy? As if—God forbid!—you make your life sound too awesome, you might inspire a backlash.
If you don’t like someone’s engagement photos, just fucking ignore them. Or seethe to yourself and your friends. Don’t attempt to inspire the Internet at large to grab their torches and pitchforks and tear that person down.
It’s unfair for a number of reasons - you should not presume to know what anyone's life is like by reading about it on the Internet. When I post saccharinely sweet photos of me kissing my long term boyfriend, I wish I could add the subtext, "Maybe this is obnoxious, but the last guy I dated broke up with me, offered to get back together, fucked me, and then broke it off an hour later. On Christmas Eve."
I've done so much work on myself in order to be capable of a lasting stable relationship and I'm going to fucking enjoy it. Privately, publicly, any way I can.
As someone who's struggled with severe anxiety and depression, there were many times I never thought I'd have much of anything. My bouts of pseudo public celebration are not meant to ruin anyone's day—they are simply me saying, "Hey world! I can maybe almost be a person now and be sort of happy sometimes."
I think people need more perspective on these issues and think outside themselves more. Maybe that person posting engagement photos had a past relationship that was physically abusive. Maybe the girl going on and on about her new Louis Vuitton bag grew up in poverty. Maybe your cousin's friend's sister that you briefly met and then added on Facebook is boasting about her new job because she can finally get off benefits.
Jealousy lost most of its appeal when I found out there were people who were actually jealous of me. It's one of those "this club was more exclusive before I was a member" things. I was just like "Really?! Aim higher..." And then I realised that anyone I was jealous of would probably feel the same way.
Whoever you are, however much you think your life may suck, someone out there is jealous of you. Seriously, how weird is that? So even if you're fundamentally against boasting, and try to make yourself look as blah as possible, someone looking at your Instagram has a hate boner for your purple tea cozy.
I believe this "bragging" can be a positive thing—a chance for us to support each other. When someone else gets something I want, it can be upsetting, but if I really think about it would I want them to have gone through the things that I did? To be as unhappy and frustrated as I sometimes am? I really don't want that.
And I'm much more at peace with seeing someone have what I don't if they're actually appreciating and enjoying it as opposed to taking it for granted.
Life is short and so many things are hard and sad and dull. Why not celebrate every good thing in our lives whether it's a successful date or a new lip gloss? Why should we feel pressured not to shine as brightly because of what other people think?
There have many times in my life when I was made to feel guilty about something I had, or that I wasn't good enough. I don't want to feel that way anymore. I want to enjoy things. I want to celebrate the wonderful people in my life while we're all still here.
And on the flip side, I like seeing other people excited and happy. I love seeing photos of engagement rings, new apartments and pets. I reject the premise of taking that away from people.
It feels like, as a society, we’re trying to keep people in line—like some Victorian notions of always being "modest" and "God fearing". To keep our heads down. To keep us feeling like we're never good enough and that everything we have to be happy about should be some kind of secret, least we disrupt the status quo.
Or maybe I just feel that way because I read Nineteen Eighty-Four a couple of times and went to Catholic school (everything they say about us is true!).
I much prefer a little arrogance to false modesty. Admit the privileges you have and be grateful. Gwyneth Paltrow is mocked for writing about her celebrity lifestyle on Goop, but I admire her honesty. Of course she has a personal chef and a trainer and two nannies and a solid gold vibrator or whatever. It's interesting to read because it's a life I could never imagine. Seeing photos of Adele at the grocery store don't really do it for me.
People have so many insecurities and things to worry about, why add to that? I'm not in the best place in my life right now, and I'm actually super down about it.
I see friends and acquaintances with good jobs, and beautiful apartments and the luxuries of stability that I long for. And I really want to hate them for it. But they all look so happy, which is exactly how I hope to look someday.