I took a semi-detox from digital life for all of last month (I still used email, Strava, and Fitbit which I suppose technically count as social media). I went into it with no real expectations; I just felt like it was something I really wanted and needed to do. I didn’t expect to have my life changed or stumble upon some deep mystical life secret. I just needed a break. My head was starting to hurt from information overload, I was spending way too much time on blogs and Facebook, and even in the e-world my introvert switchboard began to overheat from the constant sound and fury of social life. I just needed to be left alone for a while.
Life isn’t really that different off social media. I found other things on the internet to distract me when I got bored. I read more online news articles to learn what was going on in the world – and I didn’t have to be subject to everyone’s opinions about everything in the meantime. I had great weeks, and I had weeks when I was bored and moody and tired and restless. Just like every other month. Life was the same, it was just quieter.
While nothing earth-shattering happened, not having to keep up with everyone else’s life gave me space to think about mine. When we get so entrenched in our routines and lifestyles it gets hard to see ourselves clearly and objectively, and without all the usual distractions I began to see myself from a different angle.
I saw that I need to slow down. I’ve never been good at the whole “one day at a time” thing. I’ve often thought, actually, that my inability to live in the moment is what attracts me to running. Running gives me the feeling that I can suspend time, an anxiety-soothing illusion that I can rush through life faster and push time along somehow. But once I was away from the blog I realized how forced my writing has felt. I’ve been inadvertently trying to live my life through the blog. I used to think that was just the curse of having an overactive brain and an over-analytical nature. But after time away from the blog I also realized that so much of my blogging reflects my desire to try to dictate my life instead of reflect on it. I’m not sure any of these words will do any real justice to what I’m actually trying to say here. But I’ve returned to the blogging world with a desire to make my writing more organic, more curious, more open. There is a famous rule of thumb for good writing that says, “show, don’t tell.” I’m trying to think about that whenever I write, to make my blog illuminate my life instead of trying to craft it.
At some point I started thinking about how I connect with people and the lack of real friendships that exist in my life (this, I think, is partly an introvert thing – our need for a deeper connection with other people leads us to be a little more selective in who we maintain relationships with). I’m not sure what got me on this train of thought but I started looking at myself and wondering how I can be a better friend to others. It sounds weird to admit this, because you don’t often hear other people admitting to it, but I know that I have a tendency to be a little self-absorbed at times. I don’t think I’m selfish or a jerk by any means…but I don’t always do a very good job of showing interest in other people and putting their feelings before my own. I realized that maybe I should try to ditch the “me first” mentality and show the same interest and enthusiasm for others that I want them to show for me. Besides, let’s face it – pretty much all other people are WAY more interesting than I am, so it would behoove me to get out of my own head and be curious about them.
Next, I’m trying to chill out on all the goal setting and all the projects and all the list-making. I’m trying to stop forcing labels on myself – “minimalist”, “runner in training”, “bookworm”, “down-to-earth millennial”, “super srs writer chick” – and just be me. A random human, not a personality type or an image. It sounds cliche but it’s amazing how often I need to be reminded in life to just be yourself.
And, social media. I’ll leave it at this: I don’t want to quit it entirely, but I do need to go on a diet. You all know I love the Insta, but I’m trying to cut back on my Facebooking. There’s just way too much hot mess going on there and while I don’t want to give it up entirely, I have been actively avoiding it since I came back. It has gotten a lot quieter and more tolerable since I unfollowed like 100 people last month, but that home page is still a hotbed of distractions and exposure to the absolute worst in people. Like my blogging, I’m trying to make my social media usage a little more organic and constructive. Gretchen Rubin famously said in The Happiness Project that “technology is a good servant but a bad master.” I don’t think it’s necessary to quit social media but I’m going to try to use it a little more mindfully. If you’re wondering what, exactly, that means: don’t worry, I don’t really know yet either. Stay tuned.
I’m excited for August. I feel like I say that every month, but August truly brings a change of pace for the first time in months: I’m starting a training cycle so I will have more routine in my life and start getting back in shape, I have the Olympics to distract me and finally – praise all that is holy – we are one month closer to the end of this wretched, miserable thing called “summer”.
But that’s a sour note to end on sooo…here’s another picture from this month of Kevin and me with The Colonel: