Five days of post-worthy student perfection

I lived like a social media influencer and wasn't impressed

Tegwyn taking a picture of her notebooks to post online.
Photo: 
The public personas of social media stars are perfect—no ‘cheat days,’ no sleeping in, and no mistakes.
 
As an avid Instagram and YouTube consumer, I’ve noticed social media personalities commenting on fitness, diet, and the student lifestyle. Their messages seem positive, but leave no room for error.
 
I wanted to see if this picture-perfect existence is actually attainable. 
 
Based off intense research—also known as obsessively watching “morning routine” and “what I eat in a day” videos on YouTube—I made a list of daily requirements needed to become the perfect student: wake up at 5:30 a.m., exercise, drink 2.5 litres of water, eat healthy meals, keep my living space spotless, and stay on top of all my schoolwork.
 
I would also need to upload one Instagram post daily to truly experience the life of an influencer.
 
As I prepared for my five days of flawlessness, I wondered whether I would end the experiment feeling healthier, or burn out from the pressure of perfection.
 

Saturday (Day 1)

The night before my experiment, I prepared by setting out my gym clothes, running shoes, and water bottle. At my 5:30 a.m. alarm, I grit my teeth through a yawn and rushed out the door to the ARC. 
 
When I arrived and saw the locked doors, I realized the ARC wasn’t open until 8 a.m. on weekends. Instead, I ran along Kingston’s waterfront for half an hour before calling it quits. 
 
Not the perfect start I was hoping for, but I still got a morning workout. 
 
For breakfast, I grabbed oatmeal, a bagel, and half of a grapefruit. I stared longingly at the potatoes I’m so used to getting in the morning, but powered through.
 
My friend was visiting from Ottawa and we went to a bubble tea shop that afternoon to get some work 
done. Even though my bubble tea was definitely not a healthy beverage, I would make up for it by finishing a reading or two ahead of time. 
 
On our way back to my residence, I made my friend stop as I snapped an artsy photo of the waterfront for Instagram. While I admit it looked pretty good on my feed, I felt pretentious typing, “Enjoy it. Because it’s happening,” in the caption.
 
By early evening, I realized I hadn’t come close to drinking 2.5L of water. I carried a mason jar and metal straw to the other side of the University District and chugged water at a friend’s party while everyone else drank beer. 
 

Sunday (Day 2)

I woke up sorer than anticipated from the previous day’s run. Deciding to combine physical activity with some Instagram-worthy mindfulness, I found a yoga video on YouTube and followed along. It felt nice to stretch my aching muscles, even if it was 5:30 a.m. and the sun hadn’t risen yet.
 
At breakfast, I opted for soy yogurt with granola, half a grapefruit, and some peanut butter toast. Admittedly, this is a typical breakfast for me, but no potatoes and ketchup still had me feeling unsatisfied.
 
Sunday is my laziest day. I found it hard to justify doing more than the bare minimum of schoolwork, even for this challenge. I did complete a short assignment ahead of time for one of my courses, and counted that as a win.

 

Monday (Day 3)

On Monday morning I leapt out of bed with a fierce sense of determination. I was excited to finally go to the gym and be active before officially starting my day. Walking into the ARC at 6 a.m. felt like walking into my own personal training facility. 
 
I could pick any treadmill I wanted—what a life.
 
Working out in the empty ARC was a dream, but going to my 8:30 a.m. class covered in a clammy sheen of sweat was a nightmare. 
 
I was a red-in-the-face mess trying to listen to my history professor, while equally trying to stay awake as the adrenaline of my workout wore off. The only benefit was my exhaustion, plus my earlier gym session, made it easier to chug half of my required water by noon.
 
That night I was way too tired to think about taking a picture for Instagram. I dug through my photos and found a gem of a selfie from a few weeks ago. I was starting to feel uneasy at the thought of posting on Insta more than two days in a row, but was surprised to see the same amount of likes and comments I usually get. 
 
Maybe, as social media influencers would say, my “brand was growing.”
 

Tuesday (Day 4)

Tuesday started with another yoga session, because there was no way I was trekking to the ARC in the rain. After finishing my 8:30 a.m. class, I settled into a chair at Stauffer Library and cranked out notes for a solid three hours. 
 
My afternoon made me feel even more like an influencer—I had tons of extracurricular meetings where I felt like a boss. My mood was definitely high. 
 
At dinner, I stacked my plate with salad and balanced it out with a couple slices of vegan pizza. It felt appropriate, considering how many Instagram models pose with junk food to be relatable. 
 
That might be validating my actions, but I’ll let you be the judge. 
 

Wednesday (Day 5)

I was over my “perfect” week. I got up for another run when all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. I’ll admit jogging along the water in the breeze was great, but it was tough to enjoy. I was running in the dark and was paranoid I’d smash into a pole.
 
I got back home at 6:15 a.m. and fell back asleep for an hour. Oops.
 
I still had enough time to get my things together and rush to breakfast for peanut butter toast and soy milk, but my slacking didn’t help me feel put together and accomplished. 
 
The rest of my day was spent in class, before finishing some readings and completing a short quiz for my online history course. I managed to drink enough water, thanks to the supersized water bottle I’d started carrying around. 
 
While I was glad my challenge was coming to a close, I would miss tracking my habits—knowing myself, I wouldn’t keep them up for much longer.
 
After an exhausting and occasionally rewarding week in the life of a perfect student, I learned a very important lesson: perfection is bulls—t. 
 
Rigid and lofty goals set you up for failure. Doing this challenge really reinforced my knowledge that celebrities use social media to lie to you. Their food is prepared for them, their clothes are designer, and their exercise routines involve a personal trainer. 
 
Attempting to replicate the day-to-day lives of the rich and famous, or at least the parts they choose to share with fans, is impossible when you’re on your own. For a busy university student like myself, it’s laughably unmanageable.
 
I’m not disappointed by my so-called “failures” during this challenge. None of my days were perfect, but they were attainable. 
 
I ate mostly healthy meals, but I sometimes caved to cravings. I usually exercised, but sometimes a simple stretch was more realistic. I didn’t drink so much water I felt nauseous, but instead sipped when I was thirsty. 
 
I listened to my body, not a stranger appearing on my phone, and I’m not sorry for it. 

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