Ambition on Fleek: How Pinterest took me from GirlFlop to GirlBoss

At the start of my final year of high school, things were about as far from perfect as they could have been.

COVID-19 was starting to rear its ugly head in places that actually mattered to the media of the Western world. Bushfire smoke meant my summer days at the beach were limited. My grandmother had been dying in hospital for months, and I had just been prescribed antidepressants for my depression and anxiety. 

To make matters worse, what I had always struggled with in high school wasn’t the workload itself, or writing essays. Between my undiagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD) and the subjects my father had ‘encouraged’ me to do, the key factor I was missing was motivation. What good would it do the world if I wrote an essay on the significance of the policy of containment in the Cold War? Who was actually going to care about my thoughts on TS Eliot’s textual integrity and canonical status?

These questions lingered each time I sat down to gather notes for Modern History, or sketch out a Legal Studies essay. Most nights ended with me crying at my desk – mostly because of my general emotional instability, but partly because of schoolwork. 

Being a student in these end times is, in a word, utterly Sisyphean. What could the relevance of the structure of the communist Russian government in 1918 possibly have in this warming world, with WW3 on the horizon, where every choice I make as a consumer will eventually trace back to the mistreatment of a four-year-old sweatshop employee? I repeated this rhetoric to my psychiatrist, to my parents, to my school counsellor, even to my cat Jackson as we laid outside together. Jackson had motivation, drive, a reason to get up and face the day in the morning. He had trees to climb, birds to abuse, other neighbourhood cats to terrorise. I only wished some of his sense of purpose could rub off on me.

I couldn’t escape this mentality throughout the bulk of the year. What good was it to pay attention in my online classes when I could simply mute them with a click of a button? When we returned to school, I was  so behind that it seemed impossible to make up lost time, however purposefully it had been lost. Modern History classes were ripe to explore the internet in; I memorised the fifty states of America, played online trivia, watched the West Wing muted with subtitles on, even started and finished a podcast with over seventy hour-long episodes just through the transcripts. 

The most valuable past-time, I found, was not any of these, but the website that would be my saviour – Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest. 

I had known of the site for years, of course. It was an oasis of aesthetically pleasing images, Keto recipes, and easy workouts that had served to further my middle-school disordered eating. Due to the latter, I hadn’t frequented it much in recent years, but faced with the unending torture of double Legal Studies, I found myself on it more and more. I made a new account so as to better suit my current hyperfixations. Little did I know, that decision would come to serve me more than I could have ever anticipated. 

Logging onto my Pinterest feed, freshly wiped with no knowledge of my niche interests in 90s adult animation and Donna Tartt novels, I was faced with the selection the site showed to an average new user. Again — Keto recipes, OOTDs on emaciated Instagram models, and motivational quotes. 

I could have never imagined the impact these quotes would have on me. I saved one, and then another, and then another. They saturated my feed, and would echo in my head relentlessly. One day, or Day One? You decide. The disembodied voice of a GirlBoss was right – today was the first day of the rest of my life, a life in which I understood to what extent the USSR rejected capitalist ideology. 

If I was to be so bold, perhaps this knowledge I had deemed ‘irrelevant’ could become relevant, if only to be a stepping stone to the future empire I knew I could build. I could manifest success. Pinterest told me to be savage, not average. I wouldn’t be average any longer. Today was tomorrow’s yesterday.

Of course, I will disclose that after a particular depressive episode that concluded with a 49 percent markin my Modern History trial and a pesky 4/25 in my Cold War essay, my therapist prescribed me dexamphetamines for my now-diagnosed ADD. But it wasn’t the small white pills that made me focused, of course – it was Pinterest. It had always been Pinterest. I was, as the website had instructed, addicted to the feeling of having my shit together. I was going to create the life I couldn’t wait to wake up to.

As a writer, I do value honesty. And so, reader, I will be honest with you – the life I ‘couldn’t wait to wake up to’ didn’t involve Modern History. I know that the good guys won in the Cold War, that Nelson Mandela ended racism; what else was there to know? And so, I took the leap I knew I had to as a GirlBoss. I stopped going to most of my Modern classes, because I’m a powerful woman, and I’m not going to let little things like two out of my ten HSC units bring me down.

I visualised my highest self, and I showed up as her.

When my friends filled me in on practice essays I missed, I’ll admit, these things concerned me. But you don’t grow when you’re comfortable, my desktop wallpaper reminded me, and so I embraced the discomfort. Pinterest allowed me to actualise my true self. It told me to ‘wake up Beauty, it’s time to Beast’, so I lied to my parents. They didn’t need to know about Mr Kwok’s panicked emails to me, not when I was on my own path to greatness. 

You may seem doubtful, but this story has a happy ending. I graduated at the top of my English Extension 2 class, and the top of my Studies of Religion 2 class, because I’m a fucking GirlBoss. I put in the work, and I exclusively focused on the things that came naturally to me with little extraneous effort. With the help of dexamphetamines, I cleared the useless knowledge of ‘democratic principles’ and ‘significant figures in Nazi Germany’ out of my head. 

Why would I consider the political tensions in the Weimar Republic when there are real political issues happening right now? I’m a passionate socialist, and I don’t have time for Mr. Massey to bring me down talking about whatever happened to the system in Germany in the 1920s. Gustav Stresemann certainly wasn’t a GirlBoss, and he’s irrelevant now.

I just barely snuck into the top 50 percent  of my Modern History cohort, which was good enough for me. If anything, my placing third in Extension English and first in Extension 2 is a testament to the power of language. 

Now I’ve graduated and harnessed the power of motivation, who knows what hardships I’ll conquer next? I’m seventeen, out and experiencing the real world, and I see no reason to change my ideology. Now I know the value of a simple Pinterest board, there’s nothing I can’t face – whether it be toxic friendships, normalised substance abuse at university, WW3, or the impending destruction of our environment.

My mantra is simply to keep GirlBossing, Gaslighting, Gatekeeping, and Getting refills on ADD medication.



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