For the past few weeks, my once little sister has been obsessing over the first facebook photo the kids at her new school will see. Seeing her do it made me think back to the process I went through choosing my first ever Facebook profile pic.

2005 was back in the days, when Facebook had just a few college students, no Farmvilles and none of those family friends you have on limited profile. It was college students from a few schools and when I finally got my GWU email address, the very first thing I did was join.

As a sidenote: I should point out that hopping on a social network before I had registered for classes and housing left me taking History of Statistics while sharing one room with five other girls.

Choosing which picture to upload was a deliberation of indecision, photo cropping and hair pulling that lasted a solid week. I mean it was a huge deal- this wasn’t just going to be seen by my grandmother’s book club in Jamaica, this was going to be seen by every single person I would every meet in my new adult-ish life.

Anyone I would ever live with, have class with, take five-hour energy shots and well, anyone I’d take those other shots with. It was going to be the first thing my future husband saw. Or future ex-boyfriend saw. But either way, it was a really big deal.

I floated a couple of ideas with my friends: the first, a prom photo I had salvaged after some major cropping. That got shut down by my best guy friend who said pictures of girls dressed up usually meant they didn’t look that good all the time. This lead to my second option a myriad of black and white candid shots of me spontaneously laughing…alone…in my bedroom…with my shoulder blades out the picture and close to out of their sockets. By the time I got to the third round, I was sitting in our living room dismantling dusty photo albums from my childhood and building resentment towards my mother, the 90s and my assortment of neon onsie snow suits.

The picture I ended up choosing, it showed up a few days later, when an envelope big enough to fit my real diploma, name and all, came in the mail. It was of me laughing, actually laughing with my friends, a few minutes after commencement was done. I took my best picture when I had stopped wondering why suddenly felt like there were a thousand other people with last names beginning with the letter P and had started laughing again. I took it when I wasn’t trying to make a memory.

If you want to have better pictures, I suggest three things:

Shake away the notion that any one moment can fully capture the sum total of you.

Grab hold of every opportunity, every friend and every heartbreak and big love that allows you to grow into the “you” you hope to be.

And last:
Pose as no one else, refuse anything or anyone that asks you to and then remember: smile.

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