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What Lurks Offscreen: A Look at What’s Really Happening in My Instagram Photos

I recently broke down and created an author Instagram account, and it was certainly eye-opening. From perfectly curated pages to bookstagramers who treat reading like a competitive sport (yes please) it’s a colorful new world of book promos and reviews. And damn, those people make books look good!

But even with the pretty fairy lights and colorful knee socks, I always find myself asking what lurks just out of frame. Is there a couch covered in mountains of clean clothes that have yet to be put away? A garbage can full of trash that desperately needs to be taken out? A cat, licking its own butthole?

So, in honor of the curious minds out there, I’ve decided to give you a look at what’s really going on in my Instagram photos.

1. The Mason Jars

Mason jars abound on Instagram. If someone doesn’t have at least one photo of a Ball jar floating around on their page, I’m legitimately impressed. I also dot my Instagram with little jars full of iced coffee and lemonade, but the truth behind them is certainly not for aesthetics. You see, my darling husband has sweaty hands.

Behold, my fancy cups.

When we first started dating, I was the proud owner of 16 lovely glasses: eight tall and eight short. Four years into our relationship, only four remain. And because I deeply value my husband’s willingness to do the dishes, instead of purchasing new glasses for him to break, I just save jars. Most (i.e. the one that features on Instagram) once held Smucker’s Raspberry Jam, but there are plenty of Tostitos jars and even a Heinz gravy jar (which I avoid, as I inevitably end up spilling my drink down the front of my shirt). In fact, I’m so lazy about removing the labels, only one jar is even Instagram worthy. The rest retain the ghosts of their former lives.

2. The Garden Shots

I’m guessing that coffee can is from approximately 20 years ago.

Now, unlike most Instagramers, I actually have a lot to work with when it comes to pretty little outdoorsy photos. I rent a cottage on a lake with plenty of space to roam around, so I’m not limited to the confines of a teeny backyard or patch of green grass on a roof garden. But fear not, I still cut things out of the frame.

For example, the pile of garbage that I collected once the snow melted . . . that’s still sitting on my porch.

3. My Fancy Coffee

Honestly, I’m not sure how often this gets washed, so it’s probably best if I don’t drink the coffee.

Now, I’m not going to lie. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but my husband is. So, there’s a huge probability that the shots you think are extra creamy coffees are secretly chai lattes . . . or my husband’s coffee. This being said, the photos that are coffee certainly aren’t made using a fancy coffee press or espresso machine. No. My coffee comes from a $12.00 Mr. Coffee that I found on clearance at Walmart.

Also, feel free to ignore the coffee grounds littering the countertop. I used to try to clean them up, but no more. Plus, considering this is a tell-all (or show-all, in this case) it would sort of defeat the purpose if I wiped down the countertop just for this post. Because frankly, it always looks like that.

4. My living room is only cute because I throw all my crap in the kitchen . . .

I’m extremely organized on paper, but when it comes to everything else, I just let chaos reign. In other words, I know exactly where all of my important documents are and I keep meticulous records, but you’d never know it by walking into my kitchen.

Of course, since I live with another person, I try to leave some safe spaces in the house that aren’t completely overtaken my mountains of clutter. And usually, the safest space (if you want to sit somewhere clutter-free) is in my living room.

5. I have amazing handwriting . . . except for when I don’t.

When I was little, I loved doing calligraphy. Because of that, I have crazy amazing printing and cursive. Before I started working in my dad’s pizza shop, I was always ridiculously nit-picky about my writing being perfect. But once order tickets started flying, I stopped giving a shit.

My draft for this blog post . . .

Actually, when my mom first saw my sloppy handwriting at the shop, she asked me whose handwriting it was. So, I answered, “Mine.” Her response? “No, it’s not.” She was legitimately horrified that I even had a secret sloppy handwriting that I had previously never allowed to see the light of day.

So, yes, while my immaculate handwriting is real, and I do use it to journal and make lists, if I’m doing an outline for a blog post, it’s anyone’s guess how my handwriting will look. Mostly, it looks like a wild animal is fighting me for my pen while I write.

But why am I telling you all of this?

Honestly, I’m telling you what’s just out of frame in my Instagram photos because:

  1. I think it’s funny.
  2. People are curious about what happens behind closed doors, and it’s important to remind ourselves that we’re all human. Regardless of the face we present to the world, everyone has clutter and dirty dishes.
  3. This is really sappy, but when I walk around in my cottage, or step out onto my porch, I don’t see the garbage, or the piles of clothes that need to be put away, or the dirty dishes. I see the pretty things. So, the image I present to the world on my Instagram page is the world as I see it, and when I scroll through my photos, I don’t see things that feel staged or fake, I see home. And I only hope that by airing my dirty laundry, I might encourage people to look past the mess and stress piled up around them and see the beauty in their lives. (Yes, I know I’m cheesy.)

So, to finish up this post, I invite you all to comment and share what you appreciate most about being trapped at home during social distancing.

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