Striving for the 'Perfect' Impression
By Palvisha Shoaib
My life started to revolve around one notion: to look good every day for Instagram. I was so lost in its glamorous world that I completely forgot what my real life looked like.
It was a chilly day, a million clouds with slightly pink hues scattered across the dim blue sky. The snow melted from the road but still covered the sidewalks and swept across the top of some houses, like alabaster: pure white. The weather was melancholic, yet peaceful. I decided to go down the road to see my old house, as I often longed for the tranquil feeling of nostalgia. My house was right down the hill, where I lived 10 years ago with my sweet little sister, mother, and father.
This road was isolated from the others, and was reminiscent of my childhood.
It was a small, yet a grand escape from the dire reality of the world.
My sister was the only person who was very close to me. She grew up while having a ‘perfect’ picture of me in her guileless mind. She had started to think that I was an epitome of perfection - which I wasn’t. We were very attached to one another, but our relationship was strange in a beautiful way. We would hug each other to sleep or wouldn’t have dinner without the other present. Sometimes our fights would last all day over who gets a bigger slice of cake. I still remember my sister and I lay on our almond-colored velvet sofa, watching ‘Son Pari’, ‘Doraemon’, and all the Indian dramas we could think of, before going to bed on a relaxing Sunday night. No one worried about something called ‘social media’ or how many ‘likes’ they got on their picture or having an unrealistically smooth face.
When I fast forward the time to the way things are, I realize how much has changed in the past 10-15 years.
Now, we’re all pouring over our phones scrolling through social media. It is controlling our lives and identities more than we think. It was last spring when I felt the immense pressure of college life and felt the need to fit in so I could look ‘cool’ in front of my friends. I started using social media as a distraction to escape the pain that I was going through.
My routine was completely exhausting. I remember waking up every day at 6 in the morning as I took my egg-shaped beauty blender and started dabbing my face. My hands going back and forth creating that perfect blend and wearing the most blinding highlighter to make my skin look glass-like and dewy. Then, waiting for the sun to rise so I could get ‘Instagrammable’ selfies every day, using Facetune and all the editing apps to transform myself into “perfection.” I bought clothes and make-up just to showcase them on Instagram. My life seemed robotic as I sank deeper, drowning into the technological ocean of Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
I spent a lot of time curating and filtering various versions of myself on social media that I completely forgot to work on my actual self.
At one point, I felt suffocated with all my thoughts bottled up inside me, and maintaining a perfect life on Instagram was enervating.
I stopped finding joy in the things I loved doing, like writing and reading.
The end of 2019 came around, and I decided to take a break.
I went back home for two months, stopped checking my phone and scrolling through social media after every two minutes and reflected on myself. I started finding joy in the small, imperfect moments without feeling the need to constantly capture them and update my social media.
I started to write again.
I genuinely started enjoying doing makeup for myself and not for social media.
I stopped painting a ‘perfect’ picture of myself, started to feel content and comfortable in my own, bare skin.
Sometimes I went to school without makeup.
Some days my eyes would sparkle with glitter, glowing like a goddess.
Most importantly, I started to heal.