Un-Hashtag Yourself: finding recognition from within

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Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

How many of us are actually living up to the #hashtags we put on our social media posts? Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has become such a big integral part of our human society and our daily lives in how we communicate and connect with others, but how much of it is truthful and meaningful or our we hiding behind the screen? Social media platforms were initially created for a specific population: the youth (kids and college students)…but it’s become the main hub for living “our best lives” as grown adults. Don’t misunderstand, everyone has a different perspective, opinion, and relationship to social media and I do respect them all, but as for me – personally, I had to let it go. I may come back at one point in time, but it would have to be an account for my professional work, because there are actual benefits to having one for your career. I don’t think I’ll ever have a social media for personal use again.

There are so many blogposts regarding this topic of: “I deleted social media and here’s what I learned.” I’m not here to write another blogpost about that, because I will be sharing the obvious. By the way, those blogposts are amazing and the ones I’ve read have only helped and inspired me to pull the plug – so thank you to those bloggers. I am here writing to you readers this morning because I want to tell a story about social media (If I have any readers lol…I’m blogging because I think it’s a far better way to connect to other people and it’s cathartic for me. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I never had anyone read my blogposts, I’m okay with that, but if I do, that is great too).

I’m 35 and a late-bloomer (…but that is another topic for another time). When I was in my teens, I signed up with Myspace. When I was in my early 20s, I signed up with Facebook. In my mid-20s, I signed up with Instagram and Twitter. And guess what, it wasn’t worth it. I’ll say the obvious – social media was horrible for my self-esteem. Before my adult brain was fully-formed, I was being inundated with information and brainwashed to be a spectator in life. It’s wonderful to see your friends and family update you on their lives online – usually the best moments and never the worst moments, because who wants to be that “vulnerable and open” on a platform that is made to make you the center of attention – and when you are the center of attention, you want to shine, right?

The truth for me is that these social media platforms took me away from reality. Whenever life got hard, I’d bury my face in my phone and get lost so that I didn’t have to feel the pain of my emotions. A year went by, then two, then 5 and I realized that I didn’t progress as much as I knew I could in that amount of time. The only person to hold accountable is myself. We all love life’s greatest moments because we like the feeling that is attached to it. We are creatures of emotion. Yes, I ran that marathon! I feel great! Yes, I landed a promotion. I feel fantastic! Yes, I got married and had an awesome wedding. I feel amazing! But what do we do when we lost that job, or broke that ankle which put a wrench on your physical goals, or realized there is really such a thing as post-wedding blues? Some then, emote on social media which either gets the attention from followers to sympathize and say a few empathetic words. Frankly, now…I rather want a real hug from my husband or a friend and a kiss from my dog…rather than comments to my post – that only goes so deep. Oh, which brings me to another topic I’ll blog about another time (finding who you’re real friends are after you get rid of social media or go through life transitions). And some just stop posting altogether during difficult times in life, because they “feel” like they have an image to live up to…or so they think.

I could go on and on. And again, I respect anyone’s decision to stay on social media, but capital I, had to say goodbye because it was eroding at my self-confidence, my life-potential, and my ability to live in the present moment. Life is meant to be felt – completely…and I’m not saying that becoming an open sponge and not learning to protect yourself in this often “can-be cruel world” is healthy either…but there is something to be said about living your best life when no-one is looking. Authenticity breeds growth. Growth breeds potential. Potential breeds willingness. Willingness breeds action. And action…breeds living your best life. Dance like no ones watching!

Running away from pain will only hold you back. You learn the most when you are present for the moments in life that stretch you…and I couldn’t do that with social media because it engaged my brain to numb everything around me. Before the internet was around, men and women sat in silence a lot throughout their lives. “Waiting” was the norm and there were a lot of life lessons to be learned by the act of…waiting. There were moments of quiet – winding down from work at home, waiting in line at the grocery store, eating a meal alone, traveling and gazing (not seeing, but gazing) at beautiful things and places…you catch my drift. But those quiet moments of self reflection have been hijacked by social media. In those quiet moments – we “fill” it by being on our phones while we wait in line which fosters impatience, we take selfies (in our best angle) and photos of our adventures which take away from really taking in that experience, we show the food we eat instead of really tasting each note and flavor – and associating that delicious food with a beautiful memory…there was one Christmas Eve when my husband and I spent our evening over a friend’s house over a mouth-watering Portuguese meal he prepared for us (cod fish with big chucks of vegetables drizzled in goops and goops of olive oil). Phones were put away and we ate, drank wine, went around in the dinner table saying what we were thankful for and what we were looking forward to. A few months later, that friend passed away. Even writing this, makes me teary eyed. But yeah…I guess my point is…if we were all just on our phones and not present, we wouldn’t have experienced such a magical night.

I permanently deleted my Instagram two day ago and I feel noticeably better. I do miss it a little – the thought of it comes back to me every once in awhile, like “Oh, this would be post-worthy!” But I immediately then realize how much more I’m enjoying my life in the here and now, being present with my husband, my dog, my neighbors, my classmates at school, and especially myself. My mind is connected to my body more than before, and I feel more alive. Not everyday is post-worthy, let’s face it…but without the need to post, I am really enjoying the good times and even the bad times. The good times feel even greater. The bad times feel even more meaningful, because I know I’m expanding and growing as a person. You realize, fuck…I’m a soul. I feel. I’m a spirit and I’m living a human experience and for once, things start to make sense even when it doesn’t…

#findrecognitionfromyourself #lookwithinfortheanswers #unhastagged

XOXO,

Steph

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