I have seen quite a few articles on the internet lately with titles that read, “I Took a Break From Social Media and Here’s What Happened,” or something very similar to that. I usually just breeze past them with disinterest and completely ignore them. I would think, who cares? But then I went and took a social media break and now want to share my experience with said social media break. Ironic, isn’t it? With the hopes that I don’t bore you to total death, I am still going to write this article, even though I feel like a walking cliché. Even clichés can look amazing when their strutting around, right?
Before this summer’s break from all things social media, I was an avid “social media-er.” Uh, huh, that’s a word. When I say avid, I mean, anytime I had some sort of down time, it became social media time. In the car (AS A PASSENGER!!!), waiting at the doctor’s office, using the restroom (you know you do it!), during commercials while watching tv. The list can go on and on.
At first, it was no big deal, it was just something to fill the time. But then I started noticing I was craving it. Craving it like chocolate. I wanted to know what everyone else was up to, what amazing adventures people were taking. I would feel like I was missing out, in a way, if I didn’t scroll through my feed every day.
And then it took a turn for the worse. I was torturing myself! Every time I got on I would see everyone traveling, going on adventures, being creative, and showing off their fashionista children with spotless, equally fashionable homes in the background. And don’t get me started on all the “yoga people” with their “yoga pants” and their “yoga bodies.” I wrote about that already in another post. I wanted to look and then I would feel crappy about my whole life afterward. Okay, that’s not completely true. I have been known to exaggerate a time or two, but you get my gist.
I had to get out. I feel grateful for the self-awareness I have cultivated in the last three years so I could recognize this toxic relationship and do something about it. I had to make it stop! So, I did. It took a few days (honestly, I’m surprised it didn’t take longer), but I eventually I stopped reaching for my phone without thinking. I stopped desiring to know what everyone else was doing. And I learned a few things too. Yep, you guessed it, keep reading for 5 things I learned from my social media break.
1. I Was Still OK
That seems like a no brainer, right? OF COURSE I would be ok without Instagram! I knew this all along, but I think what surprised me most was that I didn’t miss it. At. All. It was so great! I quit looking at what everyone else was doing and I wasn’t actually missing out on anything. I was ok. I was better! Not feeling like you have standards to uphold, as unrealistic as they may be, really takes a load off!
Seeing others do super awesome things and then telling myself I should do that super awesome thing too was getting to be too much unrealistic comparison for me. Some of you may be thinking, “What is she talking about? This doesn’t happen to me when I look at social media…” and my husband would be right there with you, but for me, it was detrimental to my daily life. And because I wasn’t doing it anymore, I started to see what it was doing to me.
2. My Life Is Pretty Damn Awesome
Pardon my French, but sometimes I feel the need to let the cuss words fly in order to get my point across, you know? I HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Seriously, it’s pretty fabulous. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time it’s as ordinary as all get out, but even in those frequent mundane moments, it’s so beautiful. And I was really able to let that sink in once I wasn’t comparing what I was doing with what everyone else was doing.
They say that anxiety stems from our thoughts being on the future and worrying about the future. (Who’s “they”? I have no idea…) I am a worrier. I’m not proud of it. Social media basically, in its own way, just enhanced my already apparent tendency to worry. I was worrying about trivial things, too. What my body looked like, what I was wearing and which amazing travel destination I was going to. Seriously? Yep, I was.
Since getting a healthier relationship with social media, I now see my life as the amazing thing that it is. And I actually take time to enjoy it! Taking the time to be present in our lives, even when we feel like it’s nothing special, brings so much peace. AND, you might actually find that it IS pretty special after all. Full awareness and acceptance to the here and now has quite dramatically reduced my anxiety.
3. My Body Is Beautiful
Doing a social media cleanse was worth it just for this lesson. I posted before about my recently developed body image crisis, and I can now proudly say that I am in remission! Perfect, heavens no, but I’m loving my bod more and more. My social media feed was full of fitness clothing brands, clothing boutiques, yogis, fitness/wellness experts, and even a celebrity or two. And none of those genres really promote an “every body type is beautiful” message.
Not looking at my feed every day, multiple times a day, has allowed me to be present in my body and grow in appreciation for my body. Stepping away from what I thought my body should look like allowed me to have an awareness for how I feel in my body. And further, how I can feel good in my body. Learning to say “How do I feel?” instead of “How do I look?” is much more beneficial to us. It’s been much more rewarding than I thought it would be.
4. It’s All Bullshit!
There I go with the swear words again… I guess it’s probably not ALL bullshit, I did mention my tendency to exaggerate. But it can start to feel like it. I once heard someone (I can’t remember who, I’m so sorry, whoever you are!!) describe social media like a first date. It’s pretty superficial, only the stuff we want to share while all our baggage stays hidden. Duh, we are trying to get a second date!
I love this analogy and I think its spot on. Everyone has their own crap! While it would be really cool to see social media more like a 50-year marriage, I don’t see it happening. Bummer, right? I think most people try to be real, but it’s a superficial real and we need to remember that before we start comparing ourselves.
5. I Want My Feed to Be Authentic
Authenticity can be a hard. And scary. It’s scary to put yourself out there, your true self, because what if people don’t accept you and love you? Then what? But if there is one thing I have learned over the course of my life, it’s that people crave real connection. We can’t make meaningful and lasting relationships when we are only being true to part of ourselves. Yes, it’s true, many people may not accept us or love us, but that will happen no matter what. What we need to focus on is those people that will accept us, that will love us and let go of those who don’t. I’m learning that not everyone is going to connect with me, that I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok. My goal is to make sure my feed is authentic, real, and a reflection of me. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.
Even when we are at our messiest, our most disastrous, there is still potential for us to grow, for us to live and even for there to be beauty. No one has everything always “cleaned up.” Despite what we may see on social media, EVERYONE is messy. And I’m not referring to the house… Wouldn’t life be much more meaningful and truly joyful if we could embrace our messes and see the growth and the beauty where we think there isn’t any? I wish more of us could share our struggles and insecurities, share our messes, share our disasters. I think we would find we belong more than we sometimes think we do.