It was an unremarkable Wednesday when I started my day with an extra-large coffee and an extra-large lie.
While waiting for the signal lights to flip from red to green so I could shuffle down the street to my office, I carefully balanced my Venti Starbucks cup in my one hand (the one without the slightly chipped polish), and rotated it until it was perfectly flanked by tall buildings swathed in morning sunlight.
With a well-practised hand, I snapped a few different angles of my quickly-cooling beverage until I had just the right ‘casual’ looking shot, popped a glowing filter across it and uploaded it to Instagram with an off-the-cuff caption…words I’d been rolling around in my head since before I placed my order.
“When your morning starts with a 7am interview and you’ve still got three stories to write before sitting in front of a camera with movie stars trying to look human when you feel dead inside, a giant coffee is an absolute must in order to survive.”
Not a caption to rival the works of Shakespeare of course (or even E.L James), and yet I still would have counted that stylised coffee shot as one of my good deeds for the day. Smug in the belief that this photo, and the dozens like it I’d posted to Instagram stories over the last few months, was a way to ensure I was never presenting an overly curated or perfected life through my social media feeds.
That week, I’d posted a lot of glamorous looking shots to Instagram, photos from movie premieres featuring free-flowing champagne, sumptuous red carpets and plenty of B-List celebs practically knocking each other over to secure their place in the spotlight.
Thanks to my job, my social media life can sometimes look very glossy, and so I felt like this harried looking coffee pic evened the score just a little, a way to bring a sense of realism into a curated platform that regularly makes so many of us feel like failures in our own lives.
Honestly, after posting that photo I was so busy looking up my shiny self-appointed halo it’s a wonder I didn’t walk into oncoming traffic and spill my coffee.
The brutal truth of this situation, however, is that this ‘realistic’ imagine barely scratched the surface of the true problems I was battling that week. Instead, it just highlighted a more acceptable set of problems, while still working hard to strengthen the narrative I’d constructed around my own life.
If I had posted a real moment of worry and stress from my life it would have elicited a sense of pity from my followers and not the touch of envy some selfish part of me sometimes lightly trawls for in Instagram captions.
On that day I could have talked about the fact I’d just shelled out a tonne of cash for expensive and scary medical tests and now I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay my rent. Or the fact I’ve lived in this city for three years and still feel so lonely at times I want to stand in the middle of Pitt Street Mall and scream until even the buskers run away from me in fear.