Hey Friends! I’m currently sitting and writing in one of my favorite coffee shops in Nashville- The Frothy Monkey, AND Heads up- I am getting VULNERABLE IN THIS POST. I want to always be real with you all and so, I have to tell you all about my social media struggles.
I don’t know bout ya’ll, but sometimes I think my social media runs my life. It didn’t used to be this way…. I didn’t use to care so much, but then I began this blog, and I feel prey to comparison and burn out. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my blog and many aspects of social media, but it began to feel like a second job and one that I had a love/ hate relationship with. While I love keeping up with friends from out of state, new acquaintances, finding inspiration from other amazing bloggers and creatives, and keeping an eye out for all the latest trends, my life quickly began to revolve around the app. I found myself thinking constantly about the next picture I was going to post to my feed… how I could make it the best, the prettiest, the trendiest, and that was — just the picture. I still had the caption to write and we all know how hard that can be sometimes. Once I did post, I would be thinking about how well the post was doing throughout the day, many times refreshing my feed 5-10 min after to see what my like count was. If I was getting the likes, I felt pretty good about my content, but If I wasn’t getting the likes or the comments, I felt like I had done something wrong. Questions like ” did I post to early? or too late? ” or ” did I use the correct hashtags?” began to race through my head. Anyone else think this way? It’s EXHAUSTING! But that’s exactly my point.
Within the last year, I found myself getting so caught up in it all and in a way I let this little app dictate my worth. I joined multiple engagement groups and telegram groups to help my numbers. I felt like I was becoming more of a success with each new like on each new pic, but in reality, many of those likes were coming from the telegram groups. At first, I really enjoyed the telegram groups, Okay… ” enjoyed” might be the wrong word — I liked seeing my pictures get more likes and finally feeling validated. But as I continued, I could see myself spiraling deeper and feeling more trapped and less creative. I was in five different telegram groups and I was taking hours upon hours to go through all the posts, liking and sometimes commenting on everyone’s posts within the thread. If you aren’t aware of how those groups work, let me explain. There is a thread of comments in which people post their Instagram photos to gain more likes or comments. Before you can add your pictures, you must first like or comment on all of the pictures 12 to 24 hours prior– this is dictated in the rules of the group. If you keep up with it, it’s not completely horrible, but when you fall behind it takes forever.
So now that you know a little about where I was mentally and physically before I took the break, I’ll detail how the break came to be. I had seen many people taking short little breaks and while a big part of me wanted to step away, I feared loosing my followers and essentially ” all that I gained.” And I was even more nervous that no one would miss me or notice that I was gone- hello enneagram 3. At the end of January, my sister announced she was going to be fasting social media for a month and while I was hesitant, I decided to do it with her. Ya’ll this was SO HARD at first! The night that I decided to do this with her, I freaked out on Dave ( my hubby, if you’re new around here) because I was trying to again post a great picture and a caption detailing what I was doing for that month. Now when I say I ” freaked out” on him, I yelled at him for stealing my phone away as I was in the middle of writing the caption. I hadn’t saved the post yet and I thought with one fowl swoop, the whole entire post would be deleted. THAT WAS WHEN I KNEW…. I NEEDED A BREAK! I moved all of my apps to the last page on my phone and placed them in a folder.
So what did I learn about myself during this time? I think this is a three part answer looking at my mindset from before I began, during the fast and/ or social media cleanse, and after.
Before the Social Media fast– I kind of already shared a lot of the before with you above, but here’s a little more in depth look at how I felt. Like I said above, I had been thinking of taking a break from social media for a while and had seen many people that I look up to taking some time away. But I was still very much in the building stages of my blog and my Instagram, and unlike those people, I didn’t have a TON of followers and I didn’t want to loose those that I did have. Honestly, when I decided to do the social media cleanse/ fast, I didn’t think too hard about it. I jumped right in because my little sister was doing it and if she could do it, I could too. Side note: It’s kind of cool how God used her to help me sign off for a bit. I was ADDICTED TO MY SOCIAL MEDIA. I had gotten into the habit of checking my phone the second my alarm went off and if I hadn’t figured out the perfect picture and caption to use in my feed the night prior, I would take 10-20 min trying to figure it out. I had also figured out that If I posted around 6:30am, I would have more likes from people getting ready in the AM and from the multiple telegram groups I was in. I would spend an hour or two almost every evening liking all the pictures on the telegram thread and then trying to figure out what I would post the following day.
I already don’t have a ton of time… I mean, my day Monday-Friday consists of me teaching 6th-8th Graders orchestral instruments, teaching violin/ viola students privately, and going to multiple orchestra rehearsals for different groups. And on top of that, I am a wife who wants to hang with her husband some too. I would wake up with anxiety and live throughout much of the day with this overwhelming anxiety wondering if what I had to share would be cool enough, but did I share that…. NO! Every chance I had a weekend off or time to go somewhere, I felt the need to share those things with everyone. I felt like I needed to show people that I was out and about… Doing creative and amazing things and that somehow that would validate who I was. I found myself becoming more and more jealous of others whose accounts seemed to be growing at a more rapid pace then mine, or because of their engagement, or because they had such beautiful feeds with incredible pictures. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about lifting up boss babes, other creatives, and continually being encouraging, but the jealousy was causing me to feel like what I had to say was unworthy or not important. This is another shadow side to some of my strengths. I am one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet and towards others I am always uplifting and encouraging, but when it comes to myself, I am very fast to pass judgment. I was completely exhausted and drained mentally, creatively, and socially.
During the Social Media Fast– I placed my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram apps in a separate folder at the very back page of my phone. I didn’t want to fully delete the apps, so instead I made it where I couldn’t access it easily. I would have to swipe pages five times and then click the app to actually load it. This actually worked really well for me- I didn’t open them at all! The first 3 days were a little challenging, but once I had made it three days, I felt like I could totally make it a little further and so I continued. It was amazing how many times , within the first 3 days, I thought about my Instagram and wondered if people had read my post on what I was doing off social media. I wondered what they thought? Were they proud of me? Would they miss me? Did they even care? How completely self- centered of myself, right? This was definitely something I realized along the journey… I had become so wrapped up in my Instagram and what it could do for me, instead of looking at how God wanted to use me or how He could use me.
While fasting , I didn’t take quite as many selfies or pictures of places I was visiting, or well- pictures in general. I was able to live more in the moment, I wasn’t so obsessed with how I looked or if I was wearing the trendiest clothing, and I gave God and Dave WAY more of my time. Instead of waking up and checking Instagram to see if I had gotten any more likes, comments, or messages, I took 20 minutes of my morning and spent it with God. I began using the First 5 app, and a couple other apps for my morning devotion time. I set my intentions for the day with a 2 min morning guide that asked me three questions:
1. What will you let go of today ?
2. What are you grateful for today?
3. What will try to accomplish today?
I could see such a difference in my mindset for the day! I was more energized and ready to take on the day after spending more quality time in God’s word. I didn’t have the anxiousness I had been experiencing prior and I wasn’t waking up to feeling like a ” failure ” due to loosing followers the night before, not having as many likes as I had hoped for, or comparing myself to others. I reached out to more friends via text or phone. Instead of just watching their Instagram stories to see what they had been up to that day or week, I was taking the time out of my day, being intentional and asking them specifically how they were doing. One of my favorite parts was my weekly check ins with my friend, Stephanie. I absolutely loved having our text message conversations about life, our blogs and our jobs, how my fast was going, and new possibilities on the horizon. Stephanie and I actually met a couple years ago on Instagram and I’m so incredibly glad that we found each other. Like I said before, there are great parts of Instagram, and one of those is the people I have met. Engaging with the people I have met was the thing I missed most during my break.
I got more accomplished! I was using the time that I would have been scrolling, watching stories, or thinking about what my next picture or post would be, to be more productive and get more accomplished at school. I got more planning, grading and copying done for the next couple days of school. And really, the break happened at the perfect time for me. I was in charge of a lot for school and I was able to prioritize my time more throughout the day. After I got done with lessons, I actually had time to relax with Dave, whether that meant watching a movie or a show, or just making dinner and talking. It was an amazingly freeing feeling to not feel tied to post something or feel the need to be creative. It allowed me to be more present and live in the moment!
After my Social Media Fast– I MADE IT A WHOLE MONTH WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA, AND I FELT GREAT! Dave did the Social Media fast with me as well, and while it wasn’t as challenging for him as it was for me, I loved having a partner in crime to rely on. Once the month had ended and I logged back in, I decided to make some simple changes to help keep my social media outlets a more positive place for myself. I decided that I will only post things that bring me joy and I won’t feel the need to post when I don’t feel creative or have anything much to say. I no longer am fearful of loosing a ton of followers and feeling the need to perform, because if people truly like following me, they won’t unfollow me just because I’m not posting every day. I mean after all it is my own feed… I don’t have to live within certain limits or put limitations on myself. I deleted the telegram groups I was a part of and don’t plan to use them again. I plan on cutting back on the amount of time I spend per day on the app just browsing around in the feed and I will be going through and deleting accounts that don’t add to my life. I do like to have everything looking nice on my feed and maybe that will never change, but I am going to start posting more of what I want and when I want. Being here in Nashville with the family, I have already seen a HUGE difference in how much attention I am giving to Instagram. I would rather be in the moment and be able to remember my time here, then trying to showcase all we have been doing to the rest of the world, or- the few of you that watch my stories.
I definitely recommend taking some time off social media for any creatives or others feeling the need to perform or be creative all the time. Taking time off social media periodically will help you refocus your energies and goals, take back your time, have and create stronger relationships offline, and be way more productive. Look at what your goals are and have an honest conversation with yourself. Be yourself and honest in this space- it’s your space to share yourself. Remind yourself that these little squares don’t define you or your worth. Tell yourself ” I am enough” every chance you get. You are enough. So I’m gonna be awesome over on my Insta, posting when I want, saying what I feel, being kind and remembering that the likes and the comments DO NOT DEFINE WHO I AM OR MY WORTH.
*posts you may have missed: