The Financial Confessions: “My ‘Perfect’ Life On Social Media Is Putting Me In Debt”
“I’m one of those girls with a pretty Instagram. It’s not technically my job (I’m not a blogger, and I’m not some famous artist or photographer), but I pride myself on having an Instagram that is pretty to look at and shows the best parts of my life. I’ve managed to get almost 5,000 followers from beautiful pictures of my city (Miami), with my signature bright colors and bold designs. Yes, I know it’s pathetic to have a “signature” for your random Instagram, but I really consider myself as having an aesthetic.
My “real” life is actually pretty boring. I work as an administrator in the performing arts, which sounds cool (and puts you near a lot of cool things), but in practice is just as boring as most administrative jobs. I do get tons of free tickets to things, though, and tons of fodder for my beautiful Instagram. My Instagram is where I have followers I mostly don’t know, who think I live this beautiful, perfect life. And I share all the posts to Facebook where I have almost all people I actually know, and I admit that it gives me a little rush to see that they are seeing this life. My collections of beautiful patterned maxi dresses and bright flowers on my brunch tables make me feel successful, especially when I think about people from high school or whatever looking at them. This is absolutely insane, I know!
But the truth is that when I moved here after college (I am not a native Floridian), I had taken the job strictly because it was the only job in the arts that was offered to me. I have come to love Miami, but it’s not my dream city. But I base my internet persona in many ways on being the quintessential Miami girl. I never had a tan really before I came here, now I have deep(ish) olive skin and my formerly-dirty blonde hair is now dark, long, and straight. I admit that I like this version of myself, with little gold bangles around my wrists and ankles, and slightly glowy moisturizer on my chest and shoulders.
This isn’t me, though. My real life is just like anyone else’s, doing the laundry and paying the bills and going grocery shopping. But I get caught up in it sometimes. I’ve gotten free things through my Instagram many times now, even though my following is small, because I usually post about specific things. I’ve even started experimenting with my own Miami style blog, but I don’t have the time for it right now. I don’t know if I’m “that girl,” but I am addicted to trying to be her. I stop my friends before they can touch their brunch plates, and I take a million hotdog-leg pictures to make sure I have the perfectly right one. I have a side of my apartment that I photograph, and it’s perfect. The other side is always a mess.
And I buy a lot of things to maintain my image. I pay for meals out, new bikinis (I’ve never photographed the same one twice), beautiful printed dresses nearly once a week, fresh flowers religiously once a week, etc etc etc. I even consider it important to always have a fridge full of La Croix and coconut water for my pictures. Writing this makes me realize just how insane it all is, but the truth is that I already knew. I spend money to make my life look a certain way, and I get a rush from looking that way, but my credit cards do not share my enthusiasm.
Over the past year, I’ve started accumulating a little bit of credit card debt each month, and it gets worse bit bit bit. I reassure myself by saying that this is an investment in something that will come together from the following I’m gathering and the “very small” amount of free stuff/attention I’m getting. Right now I have about $3,400 that I cannot pay on my cards, and I’ve slipped into paying the minimum. And as I’m writing this, I’m eating the sushi I bought on my way home, photographed 50 times, posted, and got 231 likes on so far. I plan on telling my parents about this when I go home next weekend so they can yell at me and force me to stop because I know they’ll absolutely freak out. I know exactly how stupid what I’m doing is, but I just need someone to tell me, I guess.
That’s my life.”