There are several applications that let you go back in time through your photos and social media. Facebook advertises a “look back on your memories from a year ago”; TimeHop allows looks into what happened on this day one, two, or more years in the past; Google Photos often reminds me to check out a series of photos I took (mostly of my cats) last year. For the most part, I enjoy remembering what happened in years previous. For example, last week was my one-year wedding anniversary, so it’s a really great memory! But on any other average Tuesday, I’m not guaranteed to have such a fun or interesting walk down memory lane.
The number one thing that apps like TimeHop have taught me: I was a complete idiot a few years ago. I constantly find photo captions from my years in college that are so puzzlingly cryptic and veiled. After college, in the era of Instagram, I posted the stupidest and most low-quality photos into what is now a pretty beautiful and lively feed. I recently discovered that 6 years ago I had posted a screenshot of a tweet by obscure former Bachelorette
competitor cast member Jef Holm (Jef with one F, Emily’s season, aka the only season I watched ever) saying that he was going to Charleston with Chris Harrison (the host of the Bachelor/ette franchise) followed by a golf emoji. And as I posted that screenshot of a very unimportant (to me) person, I captioned it with absolutely NO explicit meaning. Observe:
My caption: “Time to get real about my not so secret love for the bachelorette. Though there is a golf emoji, there’s no way this means… PLEASE ADVISE”
Like, WHAT? What does this nonsense even mean? Here’s the information I can gather. 1) I’m attempting to say that I like the Bachelorette. But I didn’t really. I watched it once with some women from my sorority with whom I was living over the summer in college. 2) I’m assuming that it’s a little bit shameful to like the Bachelorette because I refer to it as secret (or rather, not-so). 3) I acknowledge there’s a golf emoji. No further comment necessary here. 4) There’s no way this means WHAT? It drives me absolutely nuts how often I posted cryptic, unfinished thoughts like this. I must have expected people to read my mind. Or maybe I thought it was a manic-pixie-dream-girl type thing to allude to my meaning without saying it.
Present day Amanda would never assume people can read her mind. Present day Amanda writes thorough captions describing how she felt, or what she likes about the image, or something that made her think. She avoids ellipses that trail off into nothing. It’s so frustrating to me that this is how I lived my public, in-writing, forever-saved-in-the-dredges-of-the-internet life.
Sometimes I wonder if my lengthy, thought-out Instagram captions are being judged or are on the receiving end of some eye rolls. But looking through the way I used to post on social media — so cryptic, so strange, so pointless and guarded and not letting people actually know my thoughts — I thoroughly prefer to write my exact feelings and thoughts as I do today. I like being able to share and be vulnerable. For so long in my life, I was rarely open to letting people actually know me. I tried to do what I thought was cool. I tried to make myself sound like I had hobbies or interests or thoughts similar to whatever guy I had a crush on, or some coworker I wanted to befriend. It was a long journey to learn what it really means to “be yourself,” and it involved a lot of appointments with a therapist. And in those appointments, I wasn’t discussing how I couldn’t be vulnerable. No, we discussed specific problems I was having at work or with a certain person. And eventually by working on those areas of my life, it opened up my ability to be myself. I hate looking back on the years I spent trying to be cool, sound cool, do things I didn’t want to do, people I tried to impress. But I wouldn’t be embarrassed to run into those people again, because I am so obviously not that cryptic, closed-off idiot of yesteryear. People are dumb sometimes, but sometimes they stop being dumb. I’m a proud reformed idiot, and I’m here to share with you my lengthy, personal Instagram captions, whether you want them or not. ♦