You know effortlessly beachy like those perfect pictures you see that fill your social media feeds with the wave perfectly crashing in the background with person's stomach sucked in and flexed and the fake, "I’m enjoying life; don’t you want to be like me prancing around the beach," carefree look painted on their face.
However, it is currently winter in San Diego. Rather than filming the videos, I’m re-watching them. I'm doing so bundled up in blankets with my heater running, because contrary to popular belief, yes, it actually gets too cold to casually take a jaunt to the beach for a mid-winter swim. Hypothermia due to swimming without a wet suit is an actual thing three out of 12 months of the year. As I was watching the GoPro videos of me and my best friend Abigail who is my “effortlessly beachy” picture partner in crime, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the fact that these videos where going to make for some amazing memories. I mean I was getting goosebumps and becoming nostalgic for the warmer weather as the seconds played.
However, it wasn’t the perfectly-crafted pictures I was grabbing from the film that was creating this longing to be back forming these moments, it was the bloopers. The 10-second frames where we're standing in water up to our waist and she’s yelling, “Christina, get down and extend your arms so your look like your swimming into the wave that's coming;” and me attempting to do so and getting water crashed into my face after an incompetent attempt. It's the still frame caught the second I popped out of the water with my hair a mess and laughing hysterically because I got hit so hard my bathing suit bottoms almost came untied.
Once I realized this, I started looking through my camera roll. I went back to all the collective groups of pictures I have from different separate adventures taken from the past summer. To my disappointment, I deleted all the pictures that captured me experiencing genuine emotion in a beautiful unfiltered moment.
I had no pictures of the view from the top of the mountain I climbed, I had no pictures of me almost falling off rocks. I had gotten rid of all of the goofy moments that I thought were too lame to post. However, I did find a picture of me almost throwing my backpack off a cliff and my face after I realized I almost lost not only my cell phone, but my camera as well, and sadly that was the only real memory I had. Everything else was just me standing by a tree with a drawn look that I had dubbed as Instagram-worthy.
I think as a collective, many people of our generation lack the ability to admire a natural filter-less moment. We cannot look at a picture of us genuinely happy and think, "Wow this is beautiful; in this photo I was experiencing so much contentment and joy." Why? Because everything has to be perfect. If it’s not getting 500 likes and 35 comments telling us how good we look, it becomes irrelevant and we don't keep it.
We filter this, pull that in and enlarge whatever and soon we have this photo shopped picture which granted looks good enough to put in a magazine, but doesn’t hold any significance. Ultimately, we are left with this hollow moment that means absolutely nothing.
I’m not saying I’m perfect and that my phone and social media isn’t full of airbrushed pictures of myself because they absolutely are. However, I have come to the realization that in 25 years when I’m sitting on my couch looking at the moments that are recounted in every picture whether digital or print are gone, I want the recollection of the actual memory. I’m not going to be sitting there going, "Wow bravo to whoever took this, the angle on this to die for," and "Do you see how defined my stomach looks? This is a great picture." I’m going to want to see me with the wave crashing and me laughing uncontrollably because that’s what the moment was. Those were the good times.
So I encourage you while you’re out making memories during your college career don’t delete captured moments out of existence because the picture isn’t Instagram-worthy. This is a very unique time in life and the pictures you take now not only act as a marker for your education, but also as reminders of where you learned to come into your own, discovered who you are as a person and met the amazing people that helped craft you into who you have become.
You will never be able to recreate or revive theses times, so don’t discard the candid moments captured of you and your friends because you’re not liking the way you look or because it doesn’t meet a certain standard of perfection. Save the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful so that in 25 years when you do look back on the memories, you're content, natural genuine smile hits you with an aching sense of nostalgia. I started off my semester by saving the good-looking memories as well as the natural ones and I encourage you to do the same.
Lead Image Credit: Pexels