I turned 25 in July, and for some reason 25 felt like a big deal. Like a milestone. So I challenged myself to do 25 burpees every day for the month. I’m not exactly sure what motivated this specific goal, but it was contagious. A few others got inspired to take on their own challenges, and I decided to keep these month-long quests going for the rest of the year.
So in August I said goodbye to social media – for me that meant Instagram and Facebook.
You know that glorious feeling when you cross off something on your to-do list? Without social media, it felt like I had one less thing on my to-do list. And the truth is… I did! “Check Instagram” might not be written in our planners, but most of us do it every day, and before you know it, 30 minutes has come and gone.
That said, cutting out social media meant I suddenly had more time in a day. This recognition was a rather rude awakening – a reality check that I do waste too much time mindlessly scrolling through endless feeds just to feel some sort of connection with the rest of the world.
As someone operating a business account, I find myself addicted to the constant inspiration provided on social platforms. The access to other businesses and the opportunity to reach out to other entrepreneurs is a unique and beneficial tool that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn offer. This is the tool I missed most on my detox. But this very tool can also cause anxiety and toxic expectations. If I didn’t check social media for a few days, I would often be anxious that I missed out on some sort of opportunity or bit of knowledge. But social media is a game of comparisons and compliments. If I did check it every day, expectations for my business and myself spun out of control. Whether it was conscious or not. This café is doing that, and that boss lady is doing this, therefore I must be able to do both! Then a brief stream of follows, likes, and comments flow in, and I am feeling good and on a roll! But what happens when the digital affirmations don’t flow in?
Happiness is reality without expectations
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
Elon Musk recently shared this on Joe Rogan’s podcast. It’s an age-old formula, but just let it sink in for a moment.
So was I anxious for a whole month, then? No. Since social media was no longer accessible in the palm of my hand, I felt free. Like I was off the hook. Yahooo!
Even so, this challenge was not a complete success.
I wish I could tell you that I avoided Instagram and Facebook for 31 days straight, but when hardship hit my family, social media is where I found comfort.
By mid August, I also had to say goodbye to my witty Uncle Mark when he lost his battle with cancer. I was unable to fly to the Midwest to be with my mom, grandparents, aunts and cousins, and I could only call and check in so many times… so I resorted to social media to stay in the loop.
I logged on several times over the course of a few days – I couldn’t stop reading the memories shared about my Uncle. It was nice. It helped me feel more connected to my family and the aftermath of his passing, and that was way more important than living up to a self-made challenge. After Mark’s service, more closure crept in, and the phone checking eventually stopped.
It seemed as though my subconscious wanted to make up for my detox slip, because at the end of the month I flew to Illinois for 5 days and left my cell phone sitting on the bathroom counter of my California apartment. Whoops.
I’ve been to Dixon, Illinois at least 10 times before, yet I learned more about my family members on this trip alone than all the others combined. I had Nerf gun wars with my little cousins and went to dive bars with my dad’s rowdy high school buddies. I noticed the mind-blowing vastness of the cornfields and appreciated the times when we did nothing but sit around and relax. I woke up early every morning with a lot more energy and a lot less grogginess than usual. I remembered what it felt like to be a kid — to be truly present and alive for 5 consecutive days.
There were no expectations. No comparisons. No anxiety. Just the beautiful, happy reality.
September is now upon us. In celebration of the cooler weather, this month’s challenge is to do something outside for at least 20 minutes every day.
Get creative, soak in some vitamin D, breath in that fresh air…