Put down the cell phone.
You’ve heard the narrative before: Social media is a highlight reel.
That’s part of my job… Or rather, that is my job. A job I’ve invested nearly a decade in.
There’s a lot to love about social media.
There’s also a lot of us that are really good at it — making life seem easy, breezy and nothin’ but as a result.
… But when you’re vying for attention and followers and likes and sponsors and shit, you feel forced to create so that you have something to post. And forced work never… well, works.
So, I quit.
I stopped blogging. I quit my job.
I know. I realize the irony.
When I decided to step away from the digital world, I had every intention of continuing my blog — I just knew I couldn’t in the state I was in.
I considered it a self-care sabbatical of sorts. But I also realize I left a lot of you hanging when I took a break from blogging, so I truly apologize for that.
I originally had zero intention of turning my blog into a business when I launched it as a hobby 10 years ago, but here we are. And above all else, I’m grateful for every damn aspect of it — the ups, downs, the opportunities, friendships, partnerships and the lessons.
Mainly, though, I’m grateful for the community it’s enabled me to build. You guys are the reason I’m able to embark on a journey such as this — traveling and working remotely around the world for the next few months — a fact that is not lost on me.
So, yeah, I quit blogging for awhile.
And I’m finally ready (and able) to explain why:
Cell phones are fuckin’ great.
I mean, the ability to access information from virtually anywhere is life-changing.
But I slowly started noticing that having constant access to the world at my fingertips meant the world could (should?) have constant access to me, too.
The euphoria of sharing an Instagram-worthy moment faded over time, and my passion for the career I’d built as a blogger was replaced by a debilitating feeling of dependence.
Ironically, the more I deepened my digital life, the more I felt disconnected from myself and my surroundings. I felt like I had to be connected and sharing and posting anywhere and everywhere I went.
I began to notice how frequently I’d gather with friends, family and acquaintances only to have our heads buried in our cell phones.
Playing the social media comparison game sent me into a tailspin.
And at the time, I wasn’t in a good place.
I was smack-dab in the middle of the depression I told you about (and have since seen a therapist, but we’ll save that for another post — all good things to say, there).
I was distant from family. I was absent from friendships. I’d been let go from a job (and got an influx of social media questions about it). My personal life was just a mess — it felt like a closet scattered across the floor.
I wasn’t taking care of myself. I’m not sure I knew how to anymore, actually.
But I kept on posting.
Subconsciously, I was monitoring what, where and why everyone else was doing — both in my professional and personal lives.
And I wasted so much energy trying to put on a happy face when things were bad.
I missed talking. I missed being able to sit with my own thoughts… Did I even know how to do that anymore?
Over time, I began to realize how much my online life took me away from my real life because, well, it took over my life.
I missed connecting. Or doing abso-fuckin-lutely nothing to pass the time.
I missed… the little things.
The tipping point came from a brief conversation I had after losing my teaching job (partly because I was not “not posting enough on social media,” lol.)
“You just need to take some time for yourself and figure out what’s going on — because whatever it is, it’s causing a lot of resistance to things in your life you used to love doing.”
And finally — finally — it clicked. (Thank you, Meredith.)
My day-to-day had become somewhat of an out-of-body experience. I was physically living but felt utterly devoid of life itself.
In hindsight, I wasn’t allowing myself to process anything I’d been going through; and for the second time in two years, I found myself in a place where I had no idea who I was… (Or perhaps that two-year span was just one very long period of exactly that. What a scary thought.)
And so, I disappeared — again.
(Here’s why I did the first time around).
As I started to settle into life without constant connectivity, the first thing I realized was this:
It’s impossible to do anything productive if you’re always somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of the very moment.
At first, once I removed the noise and turned it inward, things actually got worse.
I’m not sure why I expected that to be some kind of instant solution (like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound), but it wasn’t.
Where the hell do you even start when every single part of your world feels as though it flipped upside down?
In those initial 30 days when I stopped blogging and removed social media from my life, I was exposed to all the things I’d been previously numbing — and holy shit, I hated them. Holy shit! I hated dealing with them.
But I knew I needed to.
So I just started to put one foot in front of the other — and doing exactly that when you’re depressed as hell is no easy feat.
I’ve been using this newfound non-digital space as a springboard to recreate a reality I am happy living in.
Living mindfully in a digital world is a work in progress, sure — but so am I.
And at long last, I’m finding and feeling joy in that process.
I have a long way to go (and a lot of relationships to mend, including this one/ours), but again — it’s one foot in front of the other.
There is so much more to come — but my friends, please remember to take some time out of every damn day to put down your phone.
Don’t go missing in action from your life.
Pause, breathe, look up and embrace what’s happening right in front of you. Because for better or for worse, it’s your reality.
If there seems to be something holding you back, go ahead — disappear for awhile. Figure it out. Give it time. Ask for help.
Disconnect from your past. If you don’t, it will only keep you there and prevent you from moving forward.
It’s okay to not be okay — but don’t stay there. Take care of yourself.
Love ya’ll so damn much — and I really missed you. You know I’m here for you if you ever need a friend.
I can’t wait to share more from my travels in Cape Town soon. Until then…
All good vibes,