A Short List Of Things I Don’t Show On Social Media

Well, I’m currently on vacation in one of Marc’s and my favorite cities, Miami, after a long-yet-exciting two months for TFD. (And yes, I work a bit on my vacations, both because that’s the price of being a business owner, and because I genuinely enjoy it.) Either way, I’m here, sitting poolside at a very luxurious hotel we managed to score for six days with a little point-gaming (take that, points-obsessed finance blogging bros!), and I couldn’t feel happier or more satisfied to be here with my beloved string bean.

But being here, in this obscenely-photogenic city, in this lovely hotel on the quiet-yet-lush north side of the beach, it’s also a time to seriously throw a visual ticker tape parade on social media. I’ve shared a few pictures so far, but I fully admit that it’s hard not to want to post some of everything — it’s just so gorgeous, and being an Instagram user for over three years now, I have very much gained that muscle memory of “Hey, wow, this looks great, I should add it to the ol’ grid!” It’s not exactly a feeling of “It’s not real if I don’t share it” — particularly as I am sharing everything in real time with Marc — but as I am someone who works on the internet and to an extent makes social media a part of that work, I definitely have a feeling of wanting to “cash in.” And don’t we all? The bathing suit shot you feel happy with, the glorious breakfast spread in the diffused morning sun, the stunning shot of architecture on a long walk: they all make up the highlight reels of our lives, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But I do often feel that showing more than the highlight reel is deeply important, especially financially. We are constantly projected images that are manipulated if not outright deceptive, and when it comes to basically anything that costs money, that chasm between “what we see” and “what we can do” leads us to easily overspend. (I make it a point to reiterate that this trip was entirely on points, because if it weren’t, the hotel and airfare alone would have cost us about nearly $3,000, and we could never have done that right now — and I don’t want to give the impression to the people that follow or know me that we could. I don’t want to contribute to a false sense of reality that is already a huge enough problem in the blogging world.)

For a long time, we speared a hashtag called #TotalHonestyTuesday on Instagram to keep ourselves tied to sharing more of that reality. And after about two years, after being featured in tons of outlets (and even in a TV segment!), we decided that it was time to retire the hashtag for us and move onto different projects, different series and themes on and off the site, and different modes of transparency. (I’ve been doing a series for Medium’s business vertical that is all about radical honesty in the domain of starting both a business and a media organization, a level of transparency that today feels much more scary to me than an unflattering Instagram shot, but I’m happy and proud to be doing it.)

Either way, a commitment to transparency is something we will always believe in here on TFD, and in that spirit, I thought that on the occasion of my very photogenic trip, I would write a (somewhat) lighthearted list of some of the things I never post on social media, lest my presence on these platforms convince you otherwise. And while we’re at it, I’d love to hear some of yours — so as they say on YouTube, sound off in the comments below! 🙂

Ahem. Without further ado, the shit I definitely do not post on social media:

1. Those days when I feel emboldened to go totally makeup-free, only to catch myself in a mirror where I look like I have recently died, and proceed to frantically apply a little tinted lip balm and mascara.

2. The utter faceplant that was our plan to buy my parents’ apartment. Ultimately, it feels like more of a bullet dodged than anything for our current situation and needs, but long story short, we did not do enough research on the terms of that building before we started the process of buying it (including ending our lease, which left us scrambling for a new place). And because I made the epically-stupid choice to even briefly mention it when we were possibly doing it last year, I now have to live that comment down basically once a month in the form of “What happened with your parents’ place?”. Guh.

3. The dozen-plus selfies I delete when trying to find a good one with the lighting of my office windows, which provide very good lighting for photographing items yet always make my face look weirdly pallid and surprised.

4. The times last year when we were stretched so thin at TFD waiting for checks that we had to go through our personal checking accounts to keep payroll going, and had full-blown panic attacks in the aisles of a Duane Reade wondering if we would actually be able to keep this ship afloat through 2016. (Speaking from 2017, we are very much afloat. Bicep emoji.)

5. The friends I’ve slowly removed from my feeds because as much as I wish I could say we were still close, the truth is we haven’t been for years and never will really again because that just happens sometimes in life, but seeing them popping up all the time just causes a pang in the gut that is half-guilt and half-nostalgia.

6. The time yesterday I came out of one of the pools at our hotel feeling extremely chic and Acqua di Gio, only to find that my bikini bottom was coming undone, so I quickly saved it as it was literally falling, but not before the middle-aged man in front of my definitely saw half of my cooch. (I then proceeded to frantically tie it back together behind a bush while a few old ladies looked on from a cabana.) And yes, this actually happened yesterday, which I might also add was our first day at this hotel, so I look forward to humiliatingly crossing that guy in the lobby a couple more times.

7. The time last year I forgot to pay a $60 bill for several months and tanked my already-not-perfect credit score by over 100 points. Yikes.

8. The dinners I eat which consist of piles of cheese I microwave until it turns into this unspeakably delicious cheesy crisp that’s melty in the center, accompanied by baby carrots and apple slices so I feel like I’m not just punching myself in the stomach, nutritionally.

9. The super-scary letter I got from the government about my taxes from a few years ago about which I frantically emailed my accountant, and which will in the best of scenarios probably cost me at least a thousand dollars when all is said and done. (The lesson here being, of course, I should have gotten a fucking accountant sooner, because I am an idiot with no attention to detail.)

10. The severe sleep-deprivation period I went through for about three weeks last year as a combined byproduct of my anxiety disorder and a time of extreme outside stress (mostly financial, but also logistical, when it came time to move totally unexpectedly in fucking Manhattan). Basically it resulted in me hallucinating through half of my days because I was running on 45 minutes total of sleep, and screaming at several people I love to the point that they had to distance themselves from me, something that makes me feel humiliated and heartbroken even now when I remember it.

11. The clothes I didn’t fit into early last year when I was stress-eating, and deeply not taking care of myself, and gained about 15 pounds without even noticing it.

12. The period of severe turmoil our book went through. For legal reasons, I can’t say too much, but to make it short, our book has a new publisher now (one we love and are so, so excited to share our ample good news about as soon as we can!), but it was a serious fucking trial to get where we are now. You will have the TFD book very soon, and we are even going to be doing some extremely-exciting things when it comes time to promote it, but at this time four months ago, we felt like we wanted to quit it all because things were so unexpectedly terrible and upsetting. It was a serious path of hot coals we walked over, but we are SO glad to be where we are now.

I didn’t share these things on social media, and yes, perhaps that makes this past year a bit less honest from your point of view, but I hope if nothing else, this list makes you feel a little bit better about how imperfect my life is, just like yours and everyone else’s. The highlight reel may be lovely, but the lowlights are just as vivid, and maybe we’d all be a bit better off if we talked about them more.

Image via Pexels

  • Hayley Jennings

    The Friday nights that I fall asleep on the couch at 10 p.m. That’s not what “cool” people do. I used to be so weird about not going to bed before midnight, even if I was exhausted and didn’t have any plans, because I thought it made me lame. I don’t care nearly as much about being cool now, but I still only post photos on Friday nights I go out drinking and dancing. Somehow a selfie of me looking half dead on the couch doesn’t seem worth documenting, despite it’s realness.

    • Jack

      I don’t know how old you are, but when I got closer to 30 people actually started being envious of my early bedtimes and jealous that I could get out of bed for a super early morning hike on the weekends.
      You do you, and go to bed WHENEVER YOU WANT 😀 It’s seriously the most liberating feeling. It’s any time before 10 for me 🙂

      • Judith

        Early bedtimes became essential for me when I started working at a regular job. I like the routine but being a natural night owl makes it hard for me to get enough sleep unless I keep myself to a definite bedtime.

  • Thank you for sharing. I chuckled as a read along. You are so right… we don’t share stuff like this online enough! I build my blog around things I do and things that inspire me when I feel like I’m in the a rut. But I try not to dwell on the rut too much. Some of these ruts include:

    1) Really not liking my last job and especially the manager. I quit the job and wrote a post about it.. but I don’t share the personal and emotional damage this particular person had caused me. Not pleasant.
    2) Half the stuff that I buy and end up returning.
    3) Dishes in the sink that’s been sitting there since yesterday.
    4) The way I look RIGHT NOW as I type this comment!! LOL!!

    Jessica || Cubicle Chic

  • Ella

    Love that TFD evolves and the topics you tackle with honesty have evolved with you! You, Lauren and team are doing brave, awesome things.

    That said, love the personal vulnerability here. My list would include the purse I overpaid for because I wanted to be a person who bought ethically (conveniently ignoring that using my existing purse was also an ethical choice) and the fights I picked with my partner in 2016 when I was overwhelmed with work and feeling inadequate.


  • kdlaf

    First off, I really appreciate your personal posts Chelsea. I’ve been following TFD since it was a series of tumblr posts and I’m so happy with what its become!!

    Number 5 hits reallly close to home. At the beginning of the year I started clearing out people in my life and on my social media feeds who no longer made a positive impact on my life, posted too much or dishonestly (NO ONE’s life is that perfect -_- ), or whose presence brought up painful memories (friendships that ended badly etc), i simply unfollowed them all and i felt lighter as a person. Its such a simple thing to do but it was actually pretty hard.Taking ownership of the fact that you have control over who is in your life is a huge deal (to me anyway).

  • Lauren

    My thoughts on the highlight reel: I don’t really post on social media for other people, I do it for myself for the sole purpose of capturing a highlight reel. I like having a curated collection of these images that bring me joy that I can scroll back through weeks and months later.

    And I like looking through other people’s highlight reels, knowing full well that it is literally just the highlights, because I find it encouraging. Knowing that despite the above difficulties you were experiencing, you were still able to find happiness in sharing a beautiful picture of something on instagram, is extremely positive and hopeful. I don’t mind treating social media as a highlight reel if it’s through the lens of trying to find beauty worthy of sharing among the ordinary or even the terrible moments of everyday life. It is really admirable to be in a place to say, “Things with xyz are really shit right now, but look at this goddamn beautiful pasta.” <3

    • Amennnnnn. <3

    • Summer

      This is such a great perspective, and it really rings true for my own social media habits. I actually just spent probably half an hour the other evening scrolling through my own instagram to look back on my photos and read the captions. It was a fun trip down memory lane and affirming for me that my account is going in a direction I’m happy with. And like you said, I know other people’s accounts are also just highlights, but that’s also kind of why I like it. I mostly follow travel and food accounts on instagram, so my feed is filled with photos of beautiful places and delicious-looking things and I love it. I know it’s not realistic to travel every week or prepare stylized dishes every day, but I find it motivating to be “surrounded” by that type of content. It doesn’t need to be someone’s reality 100% of the time, it’s enough for it to be their version of truth at the time they posted it.

      • Alexis

        I’m so pleased other people do this. My IG is mine, if other people want to look at it/make judgments on it, that’s fine but mostly for me, it’s about creating a memory space. Sometimes phones don’t get backed up, they get dropped, die and BAM you’ve lost all your photos (*heartbreaks* – true story) My grid is full of beautiful pics from my life and I love scrolling through it. It’s pretty and familiar, like a digital scrapbook.

  • laura

    This is such a great post, and I totally related to it. Last year sounds incredibly terrifying for you guys, and I’m so glad to hear that things are going better this year.

    The #1 thing I don’t post on social media is anything in my house, which is a dump most of the time. Partly that’s because I live in a really old house that the landlord hasn’t maintained particularly well, so there’s chipped paint and stains that must be a decade old. But also, I’m a cluttered and messy person, and if I *do* ever want to take a pic inside I have to move all of the accumulated crap out of the background of my image.

  • Anja D’Anjou

    Have you had your doctor run a blood test for the MTHFR Gene Defect? It’s a simple and cheap blood test any lab can do. No fasting required.

    It’s sometimes called Folate Anemia and it shows up as anxiety issues. Estimates range that 45-85% of the population have this gene defect. In other words…. it’s common.

    I tested positive for the C677T gene defect. My defect is common and it causes me to have issues with anxiety.

    The “fix” for the MTHFR Gene Defect is to take Vitamin B9 and B12 in the usable form needed by people who have this defect. If someone does NOT have the defect they will overdose, go toxic, become sick and could die. This is why testing is necessary prior to taking the vitamins. It’s not for everyone!

    My primary doctor gave me the lab slip to get the blood test done. The test results come back as: (A) positive or negative (you have the defect or you don’t), (B) which gene mutation you have (C) if you have one or two mutations.

    Note: if you test positive you want to test your children and other family members because it’s inherited and genetic. Every family member who is effected would also need treatment.

    There’s a long list of things you can be diagnosed with if you have this gene defect: ADHD, ADD, anxiety, depression, bipolar and the list goes on and on. It’s really shocking.

    I’m no longer on any antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs or ADHD drugs. I’m only only the vitamins which is a big cost savings! Winning it!

    Yes, the vitamins are expensive, but not as expensive as the drugs I was previously on. The vitamins are in the fourth step and that’s why they’re expensive.

    If you’ve got the MTHFR Gene Defect Mutation you are unable to use B9 and B12 from foods or from standard vitamin pills because your body is unable to transform the nutritents into the usable form the body needs. The vitamins go through a 4 step process inside the body to become usable and the gene defect means this process fails somewhere along the line. It could be the first step, second step, third step or fourth step. There are over 30 variations of the gene defect and they fail at different points in the transfer.

    What this means is your body and brain are malnourished. Of course the brain struggles if it’s not being fed proper nutrition! This is why depression and anxiety show up. In my family anyone who wasn’t treated blew their head off with a gun. I didn’t want to go that route.

    People tell me the change in me is remarkable and it’s like I’m a completely different person.

    I tried different manufacturers and settled on one I like because it’s effective (the proper form) and it’s cheaper than others. I order it online. These vitamins aren’t available in stores because it’s an overdose for anyone who doesn’t need it.

    The brand I settled on is Methyl-Life. com. I buy the pack instead of single bottle to save money. It’s free shipping.

    I don’t work for any company that would benefit me in anyway by sharing this info. In fact I’m not currently working. I’m sharing this information with you just in case you have the gene defect yourself. I’m not selling anything or benefiting in any way.

    Someone was kind enough to tell me to go get tested. I try to be helpful to others after they helped me. I’m curious as to how many people on psych drugs don’t actually need them and instead need to treat their MTHFR Gene Defect.

    Deplin is a prescription vitamin that a psychiatrist prescribed for me. It’s the same thing only you need to pay for a doctor’s visit each time you need a refill. That makes it more expensive and insurance doesn’t cover it. I dropped Deplin and went to over the counter to save money.

    How to find your dose? You experiment and see how you feel. Slowly increasing the dose until you find the optimal dosage for you. Each person is different and there’s no way to tell what will work for any one person. I had my doctor do a blood draw to make sure I’m not at a toxic dosage. My tests show high levels (you expect that if you supplement), but I’m not toxic. Yay! I just wanted my doctor to double check and make sure I wasn’t taking too much for my peace of mind.

    My anxiety isn’t completely gone. It’s not reasonable to expect 0% anxiety in life, but I’m sooooo much better now! My depression is completely gone! My focus and concentration is much improved. I’m off the antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and ADHD drugs. I’m spending less money now.

    I don’t know if you have the gene defect. Only a doctor can tell you that. I’m sharing this with you in case you’re interested in researching the topic and looking into it.

    Good luck!

  • Crying.

    Chelsea, you have so much integrity! This article may’ve been in the works for a while, but reading it right on the heels of our little comments-section conversation the other day, it means so so much to me. Everybody needs to pay attention – this lady puts her money where her mouth (/heart) is. So grateful to you for sharing this – and so happy things are going much more smoothly for you guys this year! Enjoy that vacation!

  • i really appreciate this post. i know this stuff is hard to share, but it’s also important to do so.

    i moved abroad, to Scotland, last august to study for 9 months (about to move back home in three days) and to people who might not know me that well, my instagram feeds shows a very different kind of 9 months that i’ve actually had. don’t get me wrong, there has been amazing things i’ve got to experience here. but all that i’ve shared has been those amazing parts. what i haven’t shared is:
    – how my father passed away unexpectadely just before my move and how after orientation i flew back home for his funeral.
    – how the first two months i barely left my room, or even open the curtains.
    – how i dropped two classes and failed one.
    – how i’ve barely made any good friends cause i kept my self so isolated the first months.
    – how one of the good frieds i did get, who i lived with for 6 months, died a month ago in an accident and all i’ve wanted to do ever since is just to go back home already.

    sometimes i wish i had been braver with sharing stuff on social media. i know once i get home it’s gonna be hard to answer all the questions about my time abroad. people expect one to say it was the best year of their life. and i kind of don’t want to keep selling this idea that that’s what this year was for me. there was a lot of good in it, but all in all it was the hardest year of my life, so far.

    • Saskia

      As a stranger on the internet I wish you all the best and tip my head to you for persisting through all that hardship while apparently still being able to savour the bright spots.

  • jdub

    Yeah man. As someone who is pretty much blowing up all social media with my adorable mutts and gorgeous boyfriend, I know I definitely pick and choose what gets posted.

    Selfies and adorable playtime definitely do; double piles of poop by the living room door because we got home juuuuuust too late, the recycling we let take over the entire kitchen counter because we’re too lazy to bring it outside, my laundry that I move from the bed to the basket and back for 3-4 days in a row… definitely do not make the cut.

  • Bri

    This is some high quality stuff right here Chelsea! 👌
    I won’t ever post full out pictures of my bedroom, because it is always messy and less than ideal and I’m ashamed it doesn’t look like some Pinterest worthy shit. I’ll do bits here and there, but I can’t see myself ever sharing a photo that reveals the entire room, even though that’s where I spend the majority of my time. 🤷‍♀️

  • nancxpants

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Chelsea. We all need reminders that online lives are curated and don’t show someone’s whole picture, and I especially appreciate it this week. Thanks for the honesty, a few laughs, and the reassurance that I’m not alone!

  • Laura

    Would love to hear more about the book debacle – I think that could be a useful career/money-related article for any writers of aspiring writers.

    • Laura

      *or aspiring writers

  • Thanks Chelsea!