I started using Instagram because I thought it was an easy- to- use photo editing site. I am a middle aged Mom who’s kids used it to post very cool pics on Facebook and Twitter. I needed something easy to use to edit and post, too. I wanted to keep in touch with my family that was spread out over the miles.
I didn’t know that IG was a social networking site. I had been blogging for several years but I am a bit slow when it comes to technology and the internet. I started to realize that it was a photo sharing site similar to Twitter (a place I didn’t and still don’t “get”). I could actually SEE the pics, read the little posts with hashtags on IG. This old lady was “getting it”, couldn’t believe it.
I posted my first pic. And within seconds I got a funny icon on my smart phone. Hmmm, someone liked my pic. Wow. Soon I had built up a little group of people that I followed and they commented. I am shy buy I started to comment back. I started to laugh at the jokes, wow at the great pics, engage in a couple of photo a day challenges. And then I realized that you could Explore other hash tags.
I found a picture of my home town. I notice people because I am a nurse and tourists are often taking pictures of landmarks. Two of them are within feet of my house. One is a gothic century old cathedral that is not actively used as a church. EVERYONE, including me, has pictures of this building.
The picture that found was of a young girl in front of the cathedral. Posted the very weekend I saw them taking pictures. I “followed” her posts. I began to see her life through her wonderful pictures. She doesn’t put many words on the posts, though. I began to make inferences about her. I became very inspired by her.
You see she began posting pictures of her going to college in a very remote city about 5 hours north of where I live. It is very cold there, worse than my home town. My cousin went to that school and sent me a postcard years ago that said “It isn’t the end of the world but you can see it from here.”
She took pictures of more gothic churches, landscapes, food and people. LOL, we post the same things. I didn’t comment on any of her pics but once in a while I liked especially interesting ones. I didn’t want to seem creepy.
I also learned what she studies. She is from China and IG is a way she stays in touch with family. She is a very brave girl, I think.
Then in typical Vicki style I really start to think. I couldn’t go to college two hours from home without having a meltdown. I can’t imaging going to school where they didn’t speak my primary language. A place where I didn’t know many people, the culture is radically different and then expect to learn something and earn a degree? This floored me.
She posted she was studying for 14 hours in the library. Wow….. When I was her age I never spent 14 hours doing anything except watch TV or sleep. I didn’t even put in my first long shifts working until I was much older. I lead a pretty easy life. I did go to college on a scholarship for one year right out of high school. I had good grades, my family was middle class and I qualified for some help. However it all came to a screeching halt by my sophomore year. My parents couldn’t pay the room and board as my scholarship only covered tuition and back then we made too much to get student loans. I didn’t have the cash to pay, jobs were scarce. I married the next year and my husband was in the Air Force. We proptlyn moved 2, 000 miles from home to a desert waste land. Wow, culture shock. We didn’t have IG but we stayed in touch with family via LANDLINE telephones and videotape home movies, lol. Eventually by age 27, I had completed nursing school and started career along with raising my children. I had a taste of what this young girl was going through but I couldn’t fathom being so far from home.
I started to leave a couple of comments. I found this young girl so interesting. I learned her name. Saw a few posts with friends and pics of the seasons changing. The school year ended and I saw pics of her flight home. Then there was no pictures until the fall when she started to prepare to return to school.
I thought of her a few times over the summer. My youngest graduated, we sent him off to college. I was an empty nester and I started to work on my home-based “second” paying job in earnest. I still am a nurse by day. I listen to many people all day. I work with meds, doctors, misunderstood illnesses, and people addicted to substances…. All. Day.Long.
To bring balance to my life I have many, many hobbies. One of which is quilting. I have been paid to quilt for customers, made a couple of custom quilts and then one of my quilts was published in a magazine this year. In the fall, I had one of my quilts in a semifinalist category of a large quilt show. I was excited and started to promote my tiny business on social media. I was working some ideas to expand my business. What an exciting time in my adult life.
She posted again, I told my husband. He looked at me like I was nuts. I followed her travel back to the States via photos. I saw pictures of China, her family and travels. I started to see pictures of the library. I saw food that were her meals. Very small meals, things I would think were “snacks.” I thought maybe I should take her pictures as advice for healthier eating.
It started out as a mutual picture of the gothic Cathedral. It continues as an inspirational story of courage. I could not have done what this young woman is doing at her age or now. I hope she is following her dreams and studying what she wants. Her hard work and dedication makes me determined to continue to work hard.
It also makes me ashamed when I complain about my middle class, middle aged life. You know, small house, old furniture, being in my 40’s, having to work hard is getting me tired, health, financial stress, problems of being in a sandwiched generation…. The whining of my little life could go on all day. And I am ashamed to say that there are days that I have done that!
The church. The pictures. The sacrifices. The dedication. The common human spirit that has us love family, triumph over difficult circumstances, and the determination to succeed has kept me watching this person’s pictures. And her life story.
Funny how a few pictures drew me in so much, and continue to inspire me to be a better person.