As with any major life change, an anxiety comes with it. Excitement, uncertainty, an unpredictable feeling that creates a lump in your throat before diving in and see what will happen. This feeling, though familiar, amplifies when you’re alone with your own thoughts. Job interviews, first dates, the first day of school – your overthinking begins to ruin any good thoughts you originally had and turns them into daunting realities that will never actually become realities outside of your own head.
She sat on her couch. In front of her sat a cup of steaming coffee, the newest release of Kinfolk magazine, the iPad her parents had gotten her for Christmas, and a bowl of granola accompanied by an arrangement of fruit from Saturday’s farmer’s market.
It was one of those bright winter days where the outside world just looks colder from the reflections of the sun on the ice. A reluctance to even entertain going outside plagued her while catching up on emails and planning out her week.
While she stood up to go to the kitchen to refill her mug, she looked directly down at her coffee table. Her head acted as the drone; her eyes as a GoPro. Her view of the table was a view she had seen before, but this setting was more pristine. Spotless from the day before’s cleaning lady, the perfectly juxtaposed items exuded what most would consider to be a “simple” morning.
Breaking her trance, she strolled over to her coffee pot and topped off her mug with a blonde roast she had gotten sent in from Seattle per the recommendation of someone in her group text. Yet again, the steam rose from the edge of the cup and created the same effect the cold air had on the sewer grates she could see from her apartment window.
She held her phone above the coffee table’s scene. Just to see.
Hovering directly above the elements, the steam from the coffee fogged the lens of her camera.
“Shit,” she mumbled, wiping it off on the fleece vest she had put on in an attempt to get dressed just an hour earlier. Unsure of how to position herself, she sat on the edge of the couch wondering if the photograph would be better taken from the side than the top. Unable to actually capture the quickly-dwindling steam, she again stood up and attempted to take a photo where the coffee would exist simply on the peripheral of the photograph rather than as a centerpiece.
In between shots, she rearranged the magazine, bowl, and iPad. Not until she imported the photos into VSCO did she realize that there was a fingerprint smudge on the bottom left corner of the iPad, which prompted her to re-take each scene she had previously set up.
One by one, she edited with her normal process: import the photos, apply the F2 filter, adjust the filter to look “unfiltered,” increase the exposure, lower the contrast, increase the sharpness, play with the saturation only to leave it alone, and then export the photo to her photostream.
“Shit,” she muttered again. “Maybe I should just Snapchat this instead of Instagram it.”
Upon opening Snapchat, she saw an unopened video from Caroline who was on her honeymoon in Hawaii.
“Ugh,” she thought. “Like, so tacky to document your entire honeymoon.”
She closed out of the app with a sense of disdain. “Snapchat is just so… college.”
She again opened her edited photos in her stream and attempted to decide which would deemed the one. In the first photo, you could see the smudge on the iPad still. In the second photo, her thumb covered the coffee mug. The third, the final letters of “Kinfolk” were covered by her iPad. But the fourth. The fourth. The fourth seemed to be it.
As she looked at her profile, she took note of the distinct theme the rest of her fall and winter had taken. Darker than summer, it resembled that of a Ralph Lauren catalog rather than a clean lifestyle blog. The lump in her throat began to grow for fear that it would ruin (or at least derail) her aesthetic.
She paused. “But wait.”
She recalled Katie saying at Caroline’s wedding that you could use your photos to post to Instagram stories, something she hadn’t done before. While she hated wasting such a good photo on something as temporary as a 24-hour story, it was more of a disservice to the photograph to let it go to waste. Her thoughts and fears of posting her first Instagram story only amplified as the pressure of nailing her first one mounted. Would her followers receive the all-too-familiar notification that she was posting her first story? What if she only gets 200 views? What if someone unfollows her?
She opened the camera within Instagram and swiped up making sure that her photo would be available for posting. As she had anticipated, it was.
With the photo loaded in the screen, she debated what should accompany it – text, a drawing, coffee emoji? Or was it best to leave it alone? Adding too much would make it too basic and tacky, but leaving it completely alone might look like she wasn’t trying hard enough.
#simplicity, she typed and shrunk with the pinch of her fingers.
At the bottom of the screen, she saw the circular button that signaled she could add it to her story. Her finger hovered over it, ensuring it was ready. Fearing that she was posting the wrong photo, she went over every aspect of it – the iPad smudge that had plagued her all morning, the magazine cover, the coffee. It appeared to all check out.
And with a calmness and a heavy heart, she did it – she posted it to her story.
Her apartment door opened at almost the exact moment she pressed send. It was Todd coming home for his lunch break.
“Hey, what’s up?” he said unwrapping his scarf from his neck.
Her heart rate was elevated, partially from the rush of the Instagram story and partially from Todd’s unexpected entrance.
“Ohhhhh, nothing.” .