Until 2020, it was a given that every July your Instagram feed would be flooded with azure beaches, slow-mo jumping off yachts and enormous plates of pasta. The Euro summer holiday season was never a good time on socials if you weren’t travelling that year, but it’s never affected me quite as hard as it has this winter.
In the past, I could at least feign happiness for everyone living it up in Croatia, Greece and Italy. Sometimes, I really was happy for them, double tapping their sun-drenched shots and adding comments like “so jealous!” and “thriving!” with genuine enthusiasm. This year, though, it’s been hard to be even remotely happy for all the lucky travellers. I want to be happy for everyone. I know I should be happy for them. But I can’t seem to muster up the energy because it’s been honestly so, so depressing to wade through the posts.
Seriously, is everyone in Europe right now?? I am shocked. How did you all refrain from spending your life savings in lockdown on extravagant home roasts/cooking the entirety of that dusty old Ottolenghi cookbook? How did you not develop a financially crippling obsession with (strong) nightly martinis made with only the best gin and the best vermouth and the best olives? I was going through a bottle of gin a WEEK. Was I the only person who bought ten different vintage shirts per month off eBay last year? Redesigned my entire living room with mid-century furniture from Facebook Marketplace?
I thought we were all in the same boat in 2022 – emerging from two years of lockdowns with a serious lack of disposable income, thanks to throwing cash around in an attempt to stave off the existential dread. Apparently, I was wrong. People aren’t just doing Europe, they’re like, DOING EUROPE. WITH MONEY. LOTS OF IT.
Guys, I have to be honest. I hate it. I hate waking up every morning and scrolling through all the perfect beaches and sunset couple photos. I never enjoyed it, per se, but I didn’t have this overwhelming hatred for other people’s happiness like I have this year, and I’m definitely not proud of it but it’s also a very real experience I’m having. I hate you and your lush holiday. There, I said it.
Okay, okay. Below all the toxic jealousy and, if I’m honest, a real problem with competitiveness and social media, I can see that these people deserve their well-earned vacations. They saved money and now they’re reaping the rewards! I don’t actually hate you, I hate that I’m not you. That’s the truth beneath these surface emotions and reactions. I’m just sad.
I’m also not writing this to make anyone feel bad about living it up in Ibiza this month. I’m writing this for everyone who is like me – sitting in their ancient Qantas pyjamas and ratty old Ugg boots feeling flat as a tack. I’m writing to say that yes, it’s okay to be JEALOUS OF THE IBIZA PEOPLE. It’s okay to feel crap about their lovely holidays in Europe while you sit in your ice-brick lounge room smashing through Stranger Things episodes because it’s all you have to look forward to right now.
Don’t let those emotions rule your behaviours to the point where you comment “I hate you and your stupid new bikini in fucking Antibes” on their happy posts. But don’t kick yourself for internally being an awful friend, either.
Some of us just didn’t have the foresight to save money in lockdown. Some of us, honestly, needed to spend money on little luxuries the whole time because we were really having a time of it. It ISN’T FAIR that I have no money to travel this year. It DOES HURT MORE in 2022 after we already lost two full years of travel opportunities. I can have my little dramatic cry for the Euro tour of 2022 that will never happen, and you know what, it’s even okay to passive-aggressively avoid liking that post your boyfriend’s-friend’s-girlfriend just put up of her gazing casually across the ocean as her $500 designer dress she’ll never wear again billows out behind her.
But also (come on, you knew this was coming) let’s choose to be decent. Let’s choose to not let our sadness dictate our behaviour. Throw those supportive comments around, especially to your mates who have had a hard two years and deserve this sun-drenched trip. Double-tap ALL the Euro posts on days when you can muster up that little bit of joy for the people you love who are living it up. The sadness we feel isn’t really about anyone else but our own situations. I’m sad that past-Mel didn’t save money. I’m angry that a rude virus stole two of my free-and-hedonistic years of travelling from me. I’m depressed because it’s so incredibly cold here compared to what my Insta-feed is showing.
I’m actually not sad, angry or depressed about any of the epic things my friends and family are experiencing overseas, so where I can, I’m going to be happy for them. Or at least, I’m going to pretend to be while also crying into my claggy, sad breakfast porridge that upsettingly isn’t a Pina Colada.
Melissa is a freelance writer. You can find her on Instagram.