Take a step back
Notes from a social media break
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A song I’ve been enjoying recently:
I’m writing after returning from a morning in the woods. I was struck by my daughter’s awe and wonder at the trees, how it matched my own — at the fresh feeling of air on my cheeks — at the relief of being immersed in a space of stillness, of natural joy, of peace.
I didn’t plan what I would write today — I’m trying to do that less — and what’s at the top of my mind is how taking a break from Instagram this month is shaping me, my brain, my body, my spirit. I want to share some thoughts that have arisen during this time away, thoughts I’m still forming and noticing that you may connect with.
Notes from a social media break
I really think parts of our brain get fried when we spend so much time on our social media — and it isn’t even noticeable until we step away and remember what life feels like when scrolling isn’t at the center. It makes me miss the 90’s, the decade of my childhood, where things existed just for the doing of them and not for the showing of them — where we didn’t even have an option to get sucked into everyone else’s lives. I want more doing and less showing.
Wanting more doing and less showing is complicated when I also want to write more books, which requires a platform, which requires consistent and diligent tending and care on social media. And I have more space to navigate what this could look like in a balanced way when I have space away from social media.
One of the reasons I love subscribing to newsletters on Substack is because it lifts me out of scrolling, digesting quick content, and needing the next thing, and instead puts me in the center of what I am reading and lets me linger there for a while. I savor the time I give to to what I read — reading longer pieces that weave their way into me before they get scrolled past and forgotten about — making space to be intentional about what I consume, only doing so when I choose to make the time to.
Being outside without a phone is more potent than any instagrammable morning routine, café aesthetic, or skincare regimen.
Comparison sucks, and it is inevitable on an app that breeds it. It’s not your fault when you question your own self and life after witnessing thousands of others every day… and, there is something you can do about it if it isn’t working for you. You can step away. You can choose to log off. You can eliminate the temptation to compare altogether until you’re ready to step back in more grounded and able to care for yourself while on social media.
It is powerful to start your day with something other than your phone. It sounds so simple, but even giving yourself 10 minutes before picking up your phone seems to change your cells somehow — seems to provide just enough space to remember you have choices, you have space, you have options.
We often think we’ll miss out or miss something important by taking a break from social media. And sometimes, this might be true — but sometimes it’s worth it to miss something else a bit more so you can miss yourself a bit less.
It’s so hard to stop trying to be for everyone.
Having a platform on social media quickly put me into a role of being supportive, nurturing, and helpful — and when I’m not this, people can quickly dispel of me or be disappointed that I am not living up to their created expectation of who I am or how I’m supposed to serve them. The energy of this can be exhausting and make it challenging to give myself permission to step out of how I’ve been doing things in order to try something different. Sharing in this newsletter has felt like such a gift in that way — it’s felt like a fresh start and an opportunity to practice showing up and sharing in new ways.
And… because I spent 4.5 years sharing on Instagram, my writing and self have been watered down. Some of my creativity has been taken over by external pressures to conform, to be palatable, to be for everyone. It’s hard to admit this, and it’s true. I still see it in this newsletter a bit, too — this tug of war with wanting to write something everyone will find connection to, something that won’t make people unsubscribe, versus wanting to write what feels natural and personal to write, even if it doesn’t resonate with everyone. I am still figuring it out, still finding my way, still moving through the struggle of it. And what a reminder of how okay it is to still struggle with things we think we should have figured out by now.
Changing the shape of habits that aren’t working for us is uncomfortable and worth the discomfort.
The people who created Instagram quite literally want us to be addicted to it, to feel like shit, to think we always need more, to feel less than, and to stay on it, scrolling so mindlessly that we forget we have a choice. It is an act of power to remember the choices we have, and to choose what is best for us instead of what is best for the billionaires who want to keep us sucked into the vortex of scrolling, buying, needing more, and feeling worse.
So much of what we see on social media is fake, curated, made with an audience in mind. Our lives aren’t actually like that.
My instagram account has been markedly less popular, seen, or visible in the algorithm since my book came out. It hasn’t grown at all in the last six or so months, and for a while, this was making me feel like I was doing something wrong (I hate that we are so conditioned to view it this way — that we even put any thought at all to what this means about who we are). But when I stop and think about it, it actually means I’m just honoring what feels best for me, which looks like posting less and sharing more of what I want to share — caring less (trying to, at least) about creating viral “content” and more about being a whole human who is multidimensional — being less confined to what is “popular” and expanding into what feels good, true, and meaningful.
Nothing needs to be captured and shared for it to be meaningful and special.
I get so much more done without social media and I’m exploring how to hold this balance once I log back on.
I’ve made more progress on beginning to shape book #2 this month than I have in the last four months combined, and I know it is because of the space away from seeing what everyone else is doing.
Taking space to figure out what you actually want, outside of external noise or trends or pressures, is a gift.
Social media breaks don’t need to be all or nothing.
When I step away from the role I’ve been holding on social media, space opens up to explore how that role might need to shift. I think this can happen for each of us when we take a step away from the routine, the regular, the habit.
There is so much healing, growth, and presence to be found in our actual moment-to-moment lives that can’t be found in a list or reel.
I know this isn’t the most profound or insightful newsletter (and part of me is unhooking from the story that everything I write and share needs to be perfect in order for it to be valuable and enough) — yet these simple reminders and noticings are really helping me re-center into what it is I want my life to look like, outside of the phones that take up space in it. I hope they inspire the same in you. I’m eager to sign up for pottery classes and sew clothes, keep organizing my home and write poetry that no one sees, heal through connection and through visits to the ocean, and continue finding this version of myself in this season of life, without the pressure of who I think I’m supposed to be. Space from the social sphere has helped me deepen these wants in real, true ways.
May you take the space you need.
May you trust you won’t miss out on anything worth more than the time you need for yourself, for your rest, for your healing.
May you listen to the inner call when it urges you to step away.
May you let ordinary moments in your life be the fruit that ripens your spirit.
May you let go of metrics that don’t define you or your art.
May you trust that popularity has nothing to do with wholeness.
May you give yourself permission to show up in new ways.
May you let yourself pivot and shift in the spaces you’re wanting to.
May you find moments of levity, laughter, and sweetness along the way.
△ Looking for a new read? Peruse the comment section of this post
△ A morning trip to the woods, from today:
△ This note from Mira Jacob for 1000 Words of Summer:
△ The sensation of stillness, even when it only lasts a moment or two
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