I’m a 26-year-old living in Singapore working a job that takes me to different countries. I buy clothes every weekend and complain about how many nights of wine and cheese my colleagues throw in lieu of a party.
I post pictures of me with large groups, great food and brilliant surroundings. I spent an evening in Paris at an apartment one street away from the Eiffel Tower with women who are so strong and brave, it’s unrealistic. You saw the champagne, you saw the image, you never saw the truth.
Welcome to the facade of us happy working women.
“I met the CEO of a fancy company. He introduced himself to me.” – I saw the CEO of a fancy company. I stood around awkwardly while he spoke to my boss because I was too embarrassed to introduce myself and so I just stared for a half-hour and he ended up being really nice and introduced himself to me.
“I went to Paris. My office sent me.” – I went to a small town that’s a one hour drive away from Paris where I didn’t realize things shut down on Sundays and has very limited vegetarian options all 7 days of the week. I lost a lot of weight and developed severe ulcers when I came back.
“Oh my God! I feel so bad. Are you okay?” – I don’t know how to care. Sometimes, I think it’s a flaw. Sometimes, I think it’s normal and we’re all like that.
Because, come on…
When someone falls down, do you actually care? Do you rush out of reflex because society has taught you to ask how they are, let them know you can help and pretend you give a fuck about anyone but yourself or is it because your heart actually hurts when you see someone fall?
I don’t. Not unless I really truly care. Which is so fucking rare. Because I’m in constant competition with everyone I know since I was in first grade. “I have to be better. I have to score higher. I have to look hotter.” You know what? Fuck that shit. Here’s the truth.
I have high-functioning depression. I see a therapist once a month. I fight with my friends every other day. I’m jealous of girls and their laughter even though I know it’s all fake, just like mine.
I spend endless hours staring at blank pages. I travel one hour in two trains to reach eight hours of work before I travel one hour in two trains to come back home and cook. I haven’t slept for 8 whole hours in a very long time. I don’t think I’m drinking enough water anymore. I don’t know if I’m eating the right things. I think I’m weak. I’m scared to check. My eyes are tired. My body is sore. My heart has been breaking in pieces for months. I’ve been staring at a draft of a second book that I can’t bring myself to edit.
I want to get married. I can’t admit it. Because it’s weak. Women don’t need men in their lives. Women are strong. Women can survive alone. But holy fuck, how desperately I want to live under one roof and play house. Sometimes, I think it’s the companionship. Sometimes, it’s because, fuck you strong and independent, I want to be a wife.
I’ve been studying GMAT. For months. I suck at it. I want so badly to get good at it. So I pick up the book and my phone rings and I try to spend time with human beings in actual conversation but my emails go off and I want to be a good employee who responds to my boss past midnight and I remember my book that I would really really like to edit but then it’s past 1am and I have to be up at 6am and I want so desperately to sleep.
So I do none of it. I turn music on and slowly cry.
Sometimes I stare at my Instagram. Sometimes I stare at hers. I don’t know whose smile is fake. Whose laughter is painful. I don’t know whose life is a lie.
But we all want to say, “Mine.” Because I cried when I went home but I bet she laughed and loved.
I sobbed alone into my pillow but I bet he shares hers.
I broke down every night but I bet she partied forever.
Her life. Her travel. Her hair. Her nails. Her
boyfriend fiancé. Because didn’t you see that ring? Didn’t you see his proposal? I did. They’re meant to be together. Maybe we’re not. They never fight. Oh, you should hear us growl.
So here we go. I’ll try this again.
I’m a 26-year-old living 3000 miles away from the people I love on a routine that leaves no time for me. I work a job that takes me to countries I can’t explore because I’m always broke. I buy clothes I can’t afford, credit card bills ceiling to floor and that free wine? It’s my one true lifeline.
I love my job. It’s the only thing that keeps me going.
But that’s the only thing you’ll ever hear me complain about.
Because, that’s the new normal, right? We’re supposed to have perfect lives and shitty jobs but it pays for the perfect life and so it’ll be yet another thing I continue to lie about?
I have a messy life.
I have shitty interpersonal relationship skills.
I have one best friend.
I’m worried sick about my aging dogs that live with my aging parents.
I’m worried sick about my aging parents.
I want to be rich through my capabilities as a creative thinker in the world of writing and advertising and marketing.
I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing.
I’m anxious 90% of my existence and you know what I do when I am?
I log on to Instagram. To look at lives I am not living. To look at lies we’re both saying.
I follow a lot of happy looking women on Instagram. Because my inspiration is not their clothes or their face or their bodies. It’s that laughter.
And so I go…
In a crowded train, early Monday morning. Staring at my phone. I find myself wonder…
What an incredible life it will be… if only I could laugh like her.
And I post yet another fake picture.
Welcome to my lie.