By Sophia Yakumithis
I was the news editor for my previous school’s newspaper, so I met a lot of people and made a lot of friends I probably would never have known in any other circumstance.
There was one writer whose attitude I didn’t particularly like. I thought they were a know-it-all because they always had a lot to say about everything, and frankly, if I knew I had to meet with them, I would get pretty annoyed. I kept that internalized, though, because I like to think I’m a decent, tolerant person (on the outside).
We did weekly writer meetings, and this particular person showed up for every meeting — 15 minutes early, of course — and was always upbeat and reliable. I was 18, and at the stage of my maturity level, those traits annoyed the hell out of me.
As the semester progressed, so did my internal annoyance with this jubilant human being. I thrived off of cynicism and apathy.
One day, I fell into a social media loop and was browsing deep in my Facebook newsfeed. I came across a picture of that person with their family and decided, since I had nothing better to do with my life, to stalk them.
This person looked so happy in every single photo. Whether they were on a hiking trip, taking selfies with their friends or celebrating an accomplishment, I gathered they hold a permanent residence on cloud nine.
My imagination ran wild with this. Pictures of them with their parents, “who love them so much,” I thought to myself. Or their grandparents who are “so proud of their baby.”
Why was I thinking like this? It seemed weird and perverted to have these thoughts about someone I don’t even know.
Regardless, it made me really emotional, which raised two questions: First, am I pregnant? No, my nipples would be fuller and I’d be sweaty. Second, why would I actively dislike someone who’s objectively a good person, is eager to work and enthusiastic about life?
I continued down the rabbit hole and stalked some other people. Ah, the kool kids from my tiny, cliquey college.
What I found were ultra-edited, posed photos with curated VSCO themes with a side of underaged alcoholics taking their White Claws more seriously than the September Vogue issue.
I decided not to be too hard on myself, but the juxtaposition made me dive into some introspection.
Did I really want to spend college trying to engage with people who spend 30 minutes a day straightening their hair and smoke mango-flavored Juuls? Or did I want to surround myself with passionate, energized people who, at minimum, know how to read?
It is simply messed up that I wouldn’t jump first to be friends with someone who is always happy. I knew figuring out where my bitterness came from would be an undertaking, but I committed to it and eventually felt … that’s right, ladies: EMOTIONAL FULFILLMENT.
That existential crisis, which began at a Starbucks in Cleveland, was really random but really important. It not only raised my self awareness, but my awareness for others. I adopted it as my responsibility as a college student to see my peers as the people who love them see them.
Maintaining that positivity is hard sometimes, but has helped with all of my relationships. I’m more honest with myself and trusting of others, and have generally thrown out preconceived social biases.
I know that’s a lot to take from social media stalking some random person, but I’m really glad it happened.