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Original photo by Caroline Kannapell

A Behind-The-Scenes Tour Of My Instagram: Reality Edition

With the fall semester wrapping up, TikTok is chock-full of semester recap videos that seem to take up my For You Page. While some videos showcase a great semester experience, others portray the “I was so miserable, I’m transferring” energy. ‘Tis the season. 

Social media, specifically Instagram, is full of the highs and rarely discusses the lows. With that in mind, I’m going to show you my public Instagram highs and my personal lows that I didn’t post about. Here’s to hoping my candidness makes you feel less alone. 

Before we begin the behind-the-scenes tour, here’s your reminder that life, much like college, is full of highs and lows and that is completely normal. 

As you can see in the first post below, I was excited to be cheering on Penn State football in Happy Valley, but I didn’t get student tickets. I was up in the nosebleeds of Beaver Stadium for the first game, all alone, because I felt guilty about sneaking into the student section. I definitely felt left out, and I won’t even go into detail with how many times I got lost trying to get to my seat. It was a college “first” that made me really sad, but at least I knew things could only get better.

I was running on three hours of sleep this day, thanks to College GameDay and a 3 a.m. wake-up. For context, I posted these photos while I was washing my sheets because I woke up the next morning with pink eye. There was nothing glamorous about this day — the massive amounts of laundry, the tele-heath call in the bathroom so I didn’t wake my roommate, the trip to CVS as soon as it opened and the amount of disinfecting I had to do in my room in the days following. But no one would know that because I didn’t post about it. 

The caption says “Happiest here,” but you wouldn’t know I was doing laundry when this was posted. I was up until about 2 a.m. treating my jeans and my white jacket for honey mustard stains. This was the football game where students thought chucking honey mustard packets in the student section was funny. Let me tell you, it was not funny. Almost everyone I was with had stains all over them and we even left the game early because we felt so gross.  

This was our cute Her Campus at PSU meet-up, and it was a blast. I rushed to get ready for this because I didn’t plan for the four outfit changes it took to get this result, but life happens. You also don’t see the phone call I made to my mom so she could be my moral compass and remind me that it’s okay to not spend all of midterm week studying. I had a midterm two days after this event and was leaning towards skipping it because I felt so overwhelmed. Finding a school-life balance has been a real struggle for me, but I’m working on getting better. I have no regrets about going because it was such a fun and relaxing night, and I needed the break from my mentally taxing week. 


In this post, I went to a formal with my friend. What you don’t see is that we left after 40 minutes because I had an allergic reaction. There were a lot of balloons, and since I have a latex allergy, that was kind of an issue I didn’t see coming. A balloon floated towards me and I hit it and redirected it away from my face, thinking little of it. However, I was wrong and my hand was red and puffier than normal, just from the quick tap of the balloon. 

College is a different experience for every single person. You only know the parts of a person’s life that they’re willing to share, and not everyone wants to share everything. Even in this post, there are so many moments that weren’t captured that defined my first semester — the two weeks I spent fighting a nasty cold, little moments with my friends in between classes, nights I just couldn’t fall asleep because I was so stressed and so many moments that made me laugh until my stomach hurt. You can’t compare someone’s highlight reel to your own life, no matter how tempting it is.

This concludes the tour of my Instagram and I hope you got a laugh out of it. Here’s to a new semester with more highs, fewer lows, and not as many sicknesses as this one. 

Madeline (she/her) is a second-year at Penn State studying Psychology and Labor and Human Resources from Bangor, Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she’s either reading or taking photos.