My Instagrammable Life

I just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, “My Not so Perfect Life.”

I have always liked reading Ms. Kinsella’s works (e.g. Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret, The Shopaholic Series, to name a few) because the stories are light, funny, and the characters are pretty relatable. Her main characters could very well remind you of your best friend, your sister, or in most cases, yourself. A lot of times I catch myself thinking, “She’s just like me…” or “I could be her.”

My Not so Perfect Life (according to the blurb) is Part-Love Story, Part-Work Drama. One thing I found interesting, though, was how Katie, the female protagonist, portrayed her life on Instagram (living in an exciting city, doing cool stuff with marvelous friends), versus her reality — job issues, financial struggles, simple life, really small apartment.

It got me thinking… Haven’t we all, at some point in our social media obsessed lives, projected an alternate version of our reality?

(I will not spoil the book any further for the sake of my chick lit-loving friends, but it is a good and entertaining read. You won’t be sorry if you grab a copy.)

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Ahh, Instagram.

On any given day, we see something nice… or we go somewhere nice… or we think we look nice… And so we decide to take a photo — click, and then post. Then we add cute, interesting captions. We explain further by adding a number of #hashtags.

Then we wait for a hundred hearts (signifying that our follower friends liked the photo). Sometimes we feel bad when only a few people would “heart” the photo. Of course it hurts when you are not validated. (Personally, I am easy to please. I am happy with 10 likes. Anything beyond that to me is already a blessing — or a miracle.)

When you think about it, how much of our real lives is posted on Instagram? Or maybe the bettter question is… What stories do our IG accounts tell?

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Out of curiosity, I checked MY Instagram account.

If a total stranger will make a story about me based on my IG photos, what will he come up with…

From the 12 latest photos I posted, one will see: My latest selfie (with me all dolled up)… My bruised knees… Dining with my BFF… More selfies… A promo of my book… A collage of old photos with my son… A throwback photo with friends circa ’90s… And still more selfies…

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Basically from my IG, one will gather that 1) I have a book, 2) I have a son, 3) I was much thinner in the ’90s, and yeah 4) I am a selfie master — and I love myself so much.

My Instagram account pretty much depicts how self-absorbed I am. Yep, narcissism at its finest.

That’s my Instagrammable life. #ialwayswakeuplookinglikethis.

Alternate version or reality? 😉

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When we share photos on Instagram, we allow other people to take a glimpse of our lives.

It is easy to create a perfect, always exciting version of your life. Just carefully pick the photos you will post — Choose the ones that will tell the version you want your followers to see.

I bet our Instagram stories are all exciting.

Don’t be fooled, though. Things are not always as good as they are depicted on IG. That is why it is not wise to judge — nor envy– someone, based on what you see on Instagram.

I also believe that every photo has a backstory… And often times, it’s the backstory that is truly more interesting… and real.

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Example of Perception vs Reality / Alternate Version vs Backstory

latest selfie

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#selfietime #chilling #memyselfandi

Perception created: She’s so chill… She’s so vain… She’s always made up…

Backstory (Reality): Photo was taken after four (4) hours of sitting through the College graduation rites of our helper. FOUR HOURS. But it was a momentous occasion, a celebration of someone’s educational achievement. I had to keep a smile on my face, even after four hours…

Plus I looked good that day. So, I just had to take a photo…

So, yes, maybe I am quite self-absorbed. Quite. 😉

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What is your Instagram story???

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photos are mine 😊

Pandora’s Box of Memories

Some people are good at chronicling events. Others are good at keeping souvenirs.

One of my high school besties is a master of doing the latter. Pictures and letters from way back when, various memorabilia — you name it, she has it. She has a treasure chest of high school souvenirs which can put our school museum to shame — that is, if our high school even has a museum!

How she kept and preserved them all these years is beyond me. Simply amazing.

She can blackmail all of us in our little clique with those photos that she keeps… And I am pretty sure the thought had crossed her mind more than once.  Continue reading

The many firsts

For the past several days, I have been busy helping my son with his College Apps (College Application) requirements. As I sort documents and fill out forms, I couldn’t help but realize that… this is really happening — my unico hijo is off to college next year! 

Where has the time gone?? 

I can still remember bringing him to Nursery school and waiting for him outside the classroom for two hours every school day, for the first two months.  I couldn’t leave because he might look for me and cry if he finds out I wasn’t there.

Well, he never looked for me — and he never cried inside the classroom. He has always liked going to school. 🙂

That was Nursery school.  Now, we are talking College. I wonder if he will let me wait for him at the campus on his first day in College…

Okay, so I am beginning to get sentimental. I guess it happens to every parent — especially mothers. We look at our children and we see them as our babies. Whether they are 7 years old or 17, they are and will always be our babies. We simply cannot let go.

Oh, we will let go, eventually. Because we have to. But then that doesn’t keep us from being as protective… and maternal.

I have talked to several mommy friends whose children are also going to college next year, and they share the same sentiments. Some are already looking for the closest place to hang out while their children are in school (yes, we are moving our coffee and brunch meet up venues near their children’s universities!). I have a friend who can’t help but bawl whenever she sees a baby picture of her kid. 

Sometimes it’s not always fun being a mom. Sometimes we just feel too much…

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One of the perks of being a full-time, hands-on mom is that you get to witness your child’s many firsts. And if you are lucky — and prepared — you get to document them, too… Or you take pictures.  Lots and lots of them. Pictures to be shared in your blog when your child is much older (and will probably think of killing you for embarrassing him or her)

I dug up my son’s albums and got a few favorites… Photos of some of his many firsts. His firsts according to my mommy eyes.  

This is me getting sentimental… Indulge me.

First Day of School

The first one was his first day in a small school (Nursery) and the second one was his first day at a big school (Junior Prep).

First Field Trip

I remember being sick on that day. I had really bad colds and cough — but I had to accompany him. We were under the sun for the most part of the day. I felt like dying!

But seeing the excitement and big smile on my child’s face was more than enough to keep me alive — at least for the next eight hours.

Incidentally, that was also his first time to ride a big bus, so, double the excitement! 

First Trip Out of the Country

To Paris, with love… We just love Paris!

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Carpentras

This was taken before my sister’s wedding somewhere South of France.  

First Costumes

Back when he was too young to complain about wearing a bee costume. Take note, he wasn’t Winnie the Pooh… he was a cute bee. 🙂 

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But of course…

First Filipiniana Costume… Katipunero or Farmer? We were never sure which.

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Dr. Jose Rizal

In Jr Prep, he was supposed to come as our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. But on the day of the event, he had sore eyes… Yet that didn’t stop us from dressing up — and taking photos!  (How do you like the mustache?!)

He was supposed to be a pizza for Nutrition Month. But during the parade, they put the box with the back facing front, so he ended up looking like a pizza delivery guy.  The cutest pizza guy ever! (Mommy made that pizza costume!)

Hawaiian costume — which he also wore for his Jr Prep Recognition; Cheong sam for United Nations Day (good for sleeping, too!).

Our favorite costume, good old Capt. Hook! Won quite a number of prizes.

And yes, I had to dress up one Halloween. Capt. Hook needed an evil muse.

First Friends

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Stephanie and Emily

His first friends were two French girls. 

One taught him how to ride the bike, the other helped plan his 3rd birthday party. They all cried when the girls’ family had to move to Belgium. 😦

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The Justice League

 His posse. ‘Nuf said. 

First Sports

First time at the fairway and first golf tournament

baseball

Baseball beginnings

First baseball game.

He didn’t have baseball uniform yet. He looked like an extra. He was the 10th player on the field. 

Best Wanderer ever. 🙂 

First Studio Pictorial

It wasn’t his photo shoot… it was mine.  But he was just too cute to say no to.

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I still have lots of other photos. I have his firsts, seconds and thirds. But this should do for now.

Maybe the next picture should be of his first day in college… With me still lurking in the background. Totally uncool. 😉 

If only they can be young forever. *Sigh*

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PS… Note to fellow parents:

Take photos of your kids while they are young. Take lots. Even if they whine and complain. They are only young once and they do grow up so very fast.

Capture moments. You will be thankful some day that you did. 

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photos are all mine!!

Me, Myself and I

selfie

sheer talent

Everyone who knows me — and I mean, who TRULY knows me — would also know what a selfie-freak I am.  Oh yes, I have that Kim Kardashian blood running through my veins.  I have so mastered the the art of taking selfies that most of my photos look like they were taken by someone else.  I’m that good! (Or maybe, I also just have long arms…)

I love making photo books, too.  I have already made several photo books of our family trips and vacations… birthday parties — of my son and my nephews… just recently I made a photo book of my sister’s family’s vacation.  The whole process of picking what pictures to put and decorating the album with various frames and art work, plus choosing the background color or theme of each page, all these somehow destress me.  And it’s nice to look at the finished product.  

It is always nice to look at pictures that capture special moments in time.

Sometime late last year, I was able to purchase a voucher for a 40-paged 6×6 photo book at such a low price. Believe me, the amount was insanely low that I couldn’t pass up the chance of getting one. Recently, though, I was notified that said voucher was expiring. Oh no!!  I didn’t want it to go to waste… But I didn’t have any project in line, as well.

And then the bright idea… Since I have already made gazillion photo books for the family, I thought to myself, why not make one for, uhm, myself, this time?  Besides, I had loads of selfies to choose from — saved in whatever gadget I have (two cellphones and an iPad, to be more precise… plus the desktop files…). This should be interesting.

let me take a selfie

say “selfie!”

So I gifted myself with a photo book of MY selfies. A 40-paged album filled with photos of no one but myself.  Photos I took of myself at different places, different times of the day, from the past 5 or so years to the present.  All solo shots. All me.

Me, myself and I.    It was narcissism at the highest level. 

I had a blast making it… Though I don’t know if I can say the same about the guy who had to print the album. My face probably haunted him in his dreams afterwards. 😉

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I have always been vain.  My childhood and high school friends can attest to that. I always make sure that I look my best every time, everywhere. My pocket mirror, hair brush and lipstick are — and will always be — my bestest friends.  I can stare at myself in the mirror for half an hour and not get tired. I guess it just follows that for me, taking selfies is not just a skill, it’s a talent.

But truth be told, these narcissistic tendencies of mine don’t stem from having that feeling of being superior. It’s also not because I admire myself so much. On the contrary, most of the time, I have self esteem issues.  I lack the confidence. There’s this fear of being not good enough and of being judged by other people.

When I was much younger, my belief was if I don’t look good, then there is nothing about me that people will like.  People will think I am not good enough.  My self-image was hinged on my looks. My self confidence was dependent on my physical appearance. Thus, I took pains in making sure that I always looked my best.

In time I realized that true beauty emanates from inside. Inner peace, love and joy can give one the natural glow that no make up brand, no matter how expensive, can match. 

I still struggle, every now and then. Whenever I gain a few pounds… or I see a wrinkle here and there, or a line under my eyes… or I feel my cheeks starting to sag… I do feel bad.  It still gets to me. 

I am still vain. I still enjoy staring at myself in the mirror — and yes, taking selfies. Taking selfies is my way of capturing and preserving my moments. It is my way of celebrating myself.

Yet I have learned to accept that though I am not the best, I know that I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I am a child of God… His grace sustains me.

Besides, I also rest in the knowledge that people who truly love me will love and accept me, wrinkles and all.

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We were all young once…

Two year old Me.

Betsy 001

pure, wide-eyed and innocent

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” – Psalms 139:14

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photo credits : via google images; black & white pic of the cute little girl was from my mom. 

Snapshots

On our first afternoon together in Hongkong…

Nephew #2 :  Ninang, do you have candy?

Fairy Godmother Me:  Yes…

Nephew #2 : (with googly eyes and syrupy sweet smile) Can you give me?

Nephew #1 : (coming from nowhere)  Can I have also?

Fairy Godmother Me:  Uhm, okay.  Under one condition… you have to pose for the camera so the three of us will have a nice picture together.  Stay still.

N1 and N2 nodded, both looking so angelic.

*click*

Picture #1

FGM:  Oh, I think my hand moved.  Nephew #1, what are you doing to your brother?  Let’s try it one more time.  Nice smile everyone.

Nephew #1 : Aren’t we done yet??

*click*

Picture #2

FGM:  Nephew #2, stop moving around!  Nephew #1, smile please.  Please?!

Both angelic looking nephews nodded again.

FGM:  Okay, here it goes again… Say Mint!!!

N1 & N2: MINT!!!

*click*

Picture #3

FGM: Waaah!! We just took half of my face!! 

N1 & N2 laughing like it was the funniest thing on earth.

FGM:  And N2, STOP moving please… Okay  1, 2… say mint again… Mint!!!

N1: You’re funny!!

N2: Why do I have to say mint?

*click*

Picture #4

N2: Can I see, can I see??

N1: Can we go now?!

FGM:  Aaargh… One nice picture. Just. One. Why. is. it. sooo. hard??

N1 and N2 both smiled their syrupy sweet smiles…

N2: Can I have my mint now?

N1: Yeah, can we have our mint?

FGM:  Can you two just give me a hug instead??

Talk about having authority.  Epic fail.

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photos via my very own GE Digicam, taken Oct. 31, 2012 in HK.