Whenever I open any social media platform, the content is often filled with variations of the infamous “photo dump,” where each photo is just as aesthetic and appealing as the last. I typically save each one or send it to myself often with the mindset of “I wish I were more like this; I wish this were what my life looked like.” And while the photo dump or the idea of “making Instagram casual” seemed to be something that would bring about an era of realness and authenticity, I find that I still see posts that only display the highlights of life. Even moments of weakness or instances of failure are displayed with highly aesthetic photos of crying or messy rooms. That is all to say; it feels as if if you’re not effortlessly perfect, your messiness must still be curated. And that is not to say anything is wrong with these people or what they post; trust me, I wish I were them nearly 100% of the time. But that is my downfall because, as they say, “comparison is the death of joy.”
“It feels as if if you’re not effortlessly perfect, your messiness must still be curated.”
I’ve noticed on TikTok that with the rise of the “clean girl” aesthetic, there seems to be an opposing rise of the “messy girl.” And yet, both of these are a category, forcing girls to fit every aspect of their life or every characteristic into a box. Unfortunately, it has become harder and harder to remind ourselves that social media isn’t real. It is clear how girls cling to any moment where a social media influencer is real, where they share the raw emotions or the reality behind the life they portray.
In my own life, I have been trying to find the beauty in the imperfect. I don’t have the perfectly curated camera roll of casual photos of every aesthetic moment in my life. But the photos I do have each hold a memory of the messy moments, the joy and the sadness, the smiles of my friends, and the random moments that I wanted to capture to hold onto forever. I don’t have the perfect schedule or the perfect handle on all of my assignments and work. I don’t know how to perfectly balance everything, how to spend enough time on my papers to get the grades I want but also not too much that I don’t have time to spend with my friends or for myself, taking care of my own emotions and mental health. I don’t eat perfectly or have the perfect workout routine. Although I fight so hard every day to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect, that I don’t have to look like these girls on social media who are effortlessly beautiful, who always have cute photos from when they go out from the little moments of life that somehow always fit together perfectly and yet I still struggle. I still have moments where I can’t find any love for the imperfect aspects of my life, where if I sit too long with my thoughts, I drive myself crazy. But the journey isn’t linear; my healing and self-growth isn’t erased every time I lose myself.
I have found strength in focusing on the parts of myself that I love and those around me who show me love. I remind myself every day to write down the things I’m grateful for, the things that make me happy, and the things that inspire me every day. There will be days when you don’t feel any of these things, and that’s still okay. Take care of yourself, focus on what you need in each moment, and change your path how you need it.
Growth isn’t perfect, life isn’t perfect, and you should never feel like you have to be perfect to be enough. There is no “art” of imperfection. There is no way to be imperfect; you only have to be.