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What’s Your Story Morning Glory? A Memoir About How Instagram Helped Me Find Myself

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What’s Your Story Morning Glory?
A Memoir About How Instagram Helped Me Find Myself
By: Grace Anne
Introduction
Hi, my name is Grace. I am 29 turning 30 in
November. It is July of 2021. We are at the tail end of a
global pandemic that stopped everyone’s world as they
knew it, flipped the world inside out and likely will have
forever changed the fabric within the security blanket that
was remade following the past year and a half and its
events. As with many fellow Americans, quarantine
provided opportunities while simultaneously stripping us of
the many we had become accustomed to having. I knew I
could; a) sleep in every day, binge watch Netflix series that I
had seen several hundred times; b) use the time to heal
myself, my relationship with my mind, body and soul. To
much surprise I chose B and so I began. What you should
know about me is that the decade prior had been dedicated
to an eating disorder that developed following a sexual
assault, a rape. I destroyed my body and my mind for so
long, I had come to terms with the fact that I would die from
this illness one day. It was not the several hospitalizations,
intense treatment, doctors warning me about my failing
health, years of therapy that made me see the light.
Unfortunately, my rock bottom was fainting at the wheel of
my car, getting into an accident and instantly realizing that I
needed to make serious changes. At the time these changes
were not motivated by love for myself, it was more fueled
by my refusal to take anyone else out in the process of my
dying. So I successfully recovered from a losing battle
but found myself in a different unhealthy relationship with food and my body. You see, at first, I
revelled in being able to eat whatever I wanted, I needed to restore weight. I indulged in foods I
forbade myself from eating, foods that I’d sooner die than put to my lips, but as extremists do, I
took it took far. So here I find myself, low key in a global pandemic, with this opportunity. I
slowly started incorporating working out into my routine. I established the most ridiculous,
albeit effective, hour-long skincare routine. I took my former foe, my high energy dog on
beautiful nature walks. I voluntarily spent time with my family. I decided after years of being a
vegetarian to try veganism and fell in love with it, I learned how to cook and spent hours at the
supermarket, coming home to make some glorious vegan meal that my carnivorous family would
drool over. A lot of healing came from those months but that beautiful bitch died the minute life
started picking up speed again. That time served its purpose though and its goals were achieved.
The next battle for balance came towards the end of the summer in which I stumbled in trying to
find an outlet for my creative energy. You see, I live with bipolar disorder. Take note of how I
phrased that. I AM NOT BIPOLAR, I just live with it ya fucks. My creativity was beaming and
my then therapist couldn’t deal with my essays or emails and I had broken my laptop in a manic
fueled writing bender the night before my third semester in my master’s program. I was in
desperate need of something, and I found stories. In the age of Tik Tok, I chose Instagram as my
outlet and immediately fell in love. I will share the saga of my very first story with you and then
you can decide if you would like to continue reading this. I believe it is in my nature to find
myself in incredibly odd situations in which I frequently hear “only you Grace.” I decided to
“vlog” my very first “vlog” about a horrendous date I had just gotten home from. I matched with
him on a popular dating app and we decided to meet at 11 am in a public park near my town since
I was an essential worker and needed to be at work at 4 and at that time everything but
supermarkets and pharmacies were open; not ideal for a first date. So I find myself sitting with
this man, engaging in silly banter when he drops a bomb.
Him: “ I have to be honest with you about something.”
Me: “ Okay go ahead, shoot.”
Him: “I recently got out of a federal state prison after serving six years for an armed robbery.”
PAUSE:
I was freaking the fuck out. Not in judgement or shame of his background but I live for crime TV
and “Money Heist” on Netflix had just been my recent binge. I didn’t want to seem like a
fucking freak or pry but I was hoping he would give me the dirty deets about the whole crime.
NOPE, he did not.
I shared with him that I would never judge him off his mistakes and also shared that I
don’t believe in regrets or mistakes if you learned something from them. I reassured him that I was
sure he had grown as a person because of the experience and that I had made some shady
mistakes in which I could have had on a record. He seemed appreciative so we started making
out, getting touchy but remember we are in a public park and it, at this point, is maybe 11:45 am.
He seemed perturbed by my lack of responsiveness to him palming my head pushing it in a
general direction of south. I quickly got my “fuck yous” in order and reminded him of several
things; a) this is our first date, b) we are in a global pandemic c) this is a fucking public park d)
points at families and children nearby. He was not amused and I guess not deterred by adding
more offences to his record but I needed to be a social worker one day and a sex offence just
doesn’t sit well when it comes to background checks. He, naturally, ghosted me. BOO HOO. I
moved on but not before taking to Instagram to share what I coined
as “Penis at the Park.” The story that propelled me onto this
platform and once I was able to add “Criminal” by Britney Spears as
the background music, I was damn well hooked. My very first
poetry slams too, something that has made frequent appearances on
my vlog.. my creative outlet on crack.
“Unfazed by these quarantine days but I’m stuck in a haze by these
fuckboy ways. So I won’t suck your dick cause my mask is on and
we’re in a public park and we’re laying on the lawn. If you can’t
respect me, I won’t be mad. I’ll add you to my list of dates gone bad.”
PRE-TRIPOD DAYS
Some of you reading this may think Instagram is a vapid, shallow wasteland where people only
post the good pictures, happiness, beach vacations, milestone moments, and to that, I would
agree. Instagram is a vapid, shallow wasteland. People don’t post-truth. They don’t
post how they cried themselves to sleep while eating a pint of ice cream nor the horror show of a
laundry mess the next morning when the sea salt caramel bandaid melts all over your TJMAXX
linens. It’s just boomerangs of hands with fancy drinks cheering, someone on a boat, a beach, a
book to read, a baby, a wedding, graduation. My goal from the start was “be real, be honest, be
true, be you.” I can safely say a year later I have been true to my word. My vlog started more
as a thought diary. I have many thoughts, sometimes rapid-fire, and most of the time fucking
hilarious.
I shared how I totalled my Dad’s jeep by driving down a road that was, in its defence,
closed into a faeces filled 9ft deep puddle, had to climb out the sunroof and be rescued in a rowboat. I shared other dating horror stories, including the time a dumb ass man told me I was too
fat to fuck and that his cosmic purpose in my life was not romance but to teach me how to love
working out. He also was concerned with how much I loved my mother… CERTIFIED
SOCIOPATH.. but again “only me.” I shared how I was being stalked by a Montana banking
representative. She and I ended up talking at length about the differences between the pandemic
in Montana versus New Jersey and she ended up stealing my cell phone number and
texting my die-hard liberal ass anti-Biden sentiments..and pictures of her dogs…it got
awkward.
I did cry on camera about how I was so happy I was not dead (true) then
preceding to dance to the entire length of Miley Cyrus’s “Younger Now,” again tripod, it was very spastic but honestly still one of my favourites. I vlogged about the
day I had to drop fat cash on a new MacBook because I spilt Arizona Iced Tea on
mine and then broke the keyboard in a manic writing binge. I vlogged an inordinate
amount about a lip rash that developed because of my mask and my inability to pick
up the phone and schedule a damn doctor appointment. My lip rash consumed much of
my vlog, and for that, I’m sorry, not sorry. I shared how I anxiously check the speed of
other driver’s windshield wipers to ensure that I am not being dramatic or overreacting. I shared
a poem I wrote about fucking the devil.. considering my growing up Catholic trauma.. it was
poignant
“Hail Mary Full of Grace, Punch the devil in the face. He’s not too far you can
find him on tinder or in a fucking bar. He’s charming and witty and sexy too, so he’s easy to
forgive when he cums inside of you. But now you’re susceptible to carrying on his baby
demon spawn. So you get Plan B and you call it a day cause you’re not ready for a
demon baby. You will realize that you did fuck the devil cause he fucked your shit up on a
spiritual level. If you’re gonna be honest you’d do it again because for the first time in years he
had you screaming AMEN.”
I shared my passion for death and dying, I want to be a grief and bereavement counsellor one day,
and how it manifested presently as an affinity for skeletons. I used my vlog periodically to
remind my viewers of their mortality and that we are no better than skeletons as we are just
walking, talking, flesh, tissue, muscle and fat covered skills. I also took a moment to share my
living will PowerPoint because my mother refused to watch it. It had music. I could rant and rave
about society and our death culture but I feel as though that deserves its book. Until I am
finally a grief and bereavement counsellor, I find peace in volunteering at an agency that provides
support to families suffering loss, either parent, spouse, child or sibling. I had the honour of
working with 6th-8th graders throughout the pandemic.
I slowly but surely was beginning to appreciate myself and my thoughts and
circumstance. It was never about the views, it genuinely, from day one, was just an outlet, one
badly needed. I think it was just that I finally found a place for my thoughts, ones that made me
really, made me laugh, made me unique, made me different. To the viewers who have been there
since day one, people checking in daily made me feel less alone. It was unclear what their
thoughts were unless they voiced them but honestly I didn’t care. Another poetry slam.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There has never been a gun to your head and if there is
then I would advise that you drop your phone and run for your life…STOP WATCHING MY
STORY…RUN.”
Throughout doing all of this, I was an essential worker, working at a residential treatment
home for people living with severe mental illness. Later in my vlog career I began using my
platform to try to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder as that
was very personal and I could speak more to what it is like living with it, bring a face and ass
that everyone knows to one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses. My vlog was becoming
a coping skill for me as I could turn to it to sarcastically vent, express a thought, express a mood,
turn a bad day good and turn tears into laughter. To me, a heavily medicated person, I found my
vlog to be sufficient as well and it was a welcomed member of my medicated routine, more fun
though.
and then I got a tripod…
JUST A GIRL, AN IPHONE AND A TRIPOD
I’ve made thousands of purchases on Amazon throughout my years but this by far was
top five. It opened a whole new door for me in terms of my vlogging. I remember being young
probably 6th or 7th grade vividly watching 50 Cent’s “Just a Lil Bit” video in the back corner of
the computer lab of my catholic school. The main thought is, “ I want to be in music videos.” My
tripod (Tiff) allowed me to do so. My first-ever music video was during the period of the
pandemic in which the people were demanding a third stimulus check because the second one
was a legit joke we could barely wipe our asses with $600. I chose “Money” by Leikeli47. I
somehow obtained a scooter to add emphasis on the lack of money message in this video and
proceeded to kill it. In my opinion, which is the only one I care about, it was epic for me
and so much fun. After that, I started exploring music, something that has always been
incredibly important in my life, and my creativity blew up. I learned how to edit videos
and which apps to use. My vlog which formerly was a stream of consciousness was now more
of a music video channel and I did not mind. It got me through a lot of not necessarily bad things
but life was consumed with an incredible internship, night classes, working long hours,
sometimes 16 hr shifts, and volunteering. It became a form of self-expression but also just pure
fun for me as both my best friends lived far away and all
the dates I found myself on were duds. Within this new
framework, opportunities to explore parts of myself and
my life opened because it wasn’t just me standing on a
soapbox preaching. I had a platform in which I could
tackle challenging subjects but in a way that was interesting
and different. I was not and am still not afraid to “go there”
and in doing so I gained both positive and negative
feedback. For example, come Easter, I decided to put to use
the extensive catholic school education I received from
pre-k to 12th grade and do my first vlog series, “The
The passion of the Christ: The Musical.” It was one
of my more controversial vlogs, not the most, but word did
get back to my devout catholic mother who loves me to
death and wants what’s best for including a seat in paradise
for eternity, which may be threatened by my stupid ass
vlog. To be honest I hadn’t thought about the Passion of
Christ, the story, to that depth in years. I had shut the
door on religion and it seriously impeded any attempt at
gaining my own defined sense of spirituality. Following
the four-day vlog series, I gained whole new respect for
Jesus in this story, one that I never had throughout my
upbringing. I felt for him, his pain, feeling abandoned
by God at the time you need help the most. I can vibe more with Jesus now, he seems more
relatable. God is still sadistic and if he made me in his image and likeness that for fuck sake he
has some sort of mood disordered likely combined with a personality disorder such as
narcissism. BUT TO BE CLEAR THAT’S MY OPINION. Unpopular to some, but not to all.
This may sound extremist but in some ways I feel like my stories have become an aspect of
spirituality for me in terms of self-love, appreciation, taking care of the mind-body-soul. The
connection between the triad. I loved myself going into it, but I have gained a whole new
appreciation for myself, what I am capable of, and my ability to put myself out there, allow
vulnerability but still vlog after vlog has the same, consistent self-image unaffected by any
feedback, positive or negative. To me, it’s such a beautiful sign of growth, something I believe all
humans are always capable of despite feeling like they have grown to the point of growing.
Considering the space I was in for years, only a mere two real years prior, I shed the insecure,
anxious, people, pleasing, sickness of a girl, and finally grew into self. Now my vlog is a piece of
me, it is not me in my entirety and I do feel as though people get confused about that. Not many
people know me anymore considering much of my growth took place in isolation. I have not had
the human connection or contact that I was formerly used to, something we all universally
experienced. In turn, people took what they were seeing, and rather than see growth and
happiness, they saw something wrong, grew concerned, questioned my mental health, and my
character. The one thing I have difficulty with about the vulnerability on social media is when I am so open
about my mental health and more appropriately my mental illness. I applaud celebrities for
using their platform to disclose a battle with mental illness but their experience is nothing
compared to the average person battling the same. They are hailed for bravery and receive
widespread public support when they disclose and they also have money, money that allows
access to top the line, incredible care. I DON’T HAVE THAT NEVER HAVE. Usually when I
disclose living with bipolar to someone, maybe initially they seem supportive but with time they
begin to criticize the ways I’m choosing to live my life, things they disapprove of, and in turn
take my mental illness and use it as a conversation piece, a subject demanding attention,
something is “wrong” with me. It has provided many challenging conversations in
which I feel like I constantly have to prove myself or my sanity. I don’t regret being open because
what will remove stigma is real people living with illness talking about, educating people
on the experience of living with mental illness, but no one wants to do so and I understand, I do,
because likely instead of removing stigma, people tend to stigmatize your more. It can be lonely
and isolating but I love the life I’m living and if people can’t see the happiness, I cannot force
them to and hopefully they will come around and get to know this Grace, with a pretty face, no
longer afraid to take up space.
Ultimately something that started as just a silly outlet to vent a horrid dating story
turned into something transformative for me. Some may laugh that it was found on an app so
trivial as Instagram but I was able to learn about my differences and learn how to fully embrace
them and love them and me, for all I am and all I wish to be. I learned how to laugh, very very
hard, at my damn self, which allowed me to do more ridiculous things and I found that I
wasn’t laughing alone, other people were laughing with me. I ended up reconnecting with people
I haven’t seen in years, reestablishing relationships that thought would never be again. It has also
hurt my relationships with people who don’t understand where I am coming nor have they
wanted to. Always be true, always be you, and if that means putting on a wig and dancing to a
weirdly appropriate song SO BE IT. I am who I am and I don’t give a damn. This is my story,
and I’m not talking about my Instagram.
DEAR @graceful8,
I have grown to wholeheartedly love you while outgrowing any of the hate. I have learned to
truly appreciate things about you that make you great. You are unique, one of a kind, people like
you are hard to find. So I will forever hold on tight and be happy with you when I go to sleep at
night. Thank you for not being afraid to be you, and always being real, always being true.
“ I know who my real friends are, they always gon answer when I call. Never switching sides is
the key to my heart. Say what’s on my mind fucking real from the start.” VLOG THEME
SONG“ Hoops” by Wolf

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