This time of year is perfect for reflecting. I got to thinking about some tough lessons I learned and what I need to change not just in 2018, but permanently. While I am not someone who holds grudges or dwells in regret, I am someone who struggles with letting go. There were a lot of situations where my patience was tested. I’d rush to do something, to get something into the world without realizing how this “must do now” mindset worked against me.
I’d watch people in my life move on with theirs, relocate out east, and pursue their goals and dreams and I’d be stuck. While I have done a lot (except for the moving part), something stifled me, held me back. It was fear, not just in general, but it was rooted deeply in my fear of no longer being relevant in the Trump Era and on social media. We live in a self-obsessed culture (and I’m not talking about everybody or a specific person). I was feeling ‘self-promote-y’ and couldn’t stand it. More than a week ago, I got rid of some apps, Instagram was one of them, an app I was developing a weird love-hate relationship with.
Though I didn’t delete my account, I uninstalled it from my phone because it was becoming another obsession, a distraction, something I used to make myself feel relevant, important, and valuable. Every time I signed onto the app, I’d see pictures of people who didn’t follow through on promises or opportunities. Nobody talks about the emotional burden of social media, how it plants these ideas in our minds of where we need to be in our lives now. I’d say to myself, “this should be happening already, why have I not arrived at X, why am I not doing this or that? Where did I go wrong? What did I do to make X, Y, or Z fall through?” And, it’s simple. I needed to stop trying to match up with everyone else.
With Instagram not on my phone anymore, an enormous emotional weight lifted. I don’t want or need to see what my favorite author is up to or that an actress is walking down the street in the next city over from me or that one of my friends or colleagues is lounging under a palm tree on a tropical island somewhere drinking from a coconut. We have this ‘compulsion’ to share and also peek in on what everyone else is doing. All this does is stop creative juices from flowing, makes you forget about your uniqueness and what makes you special, and prevents you from moving forward with your life because you think the world has beat you to all your ideas or whatever the case. For me anyways.
Back to the issue of feeling relevant…just because you post or don’t post a status or update your network every half hour, doesn’t mean you’re not important. In fact, when I discovered my internal reasons for why I post, why I want to watch everyone else’s life stories unfold in front of me; when I really sat down and asked myself why? The answer is what made me stop. Another cold, hard lesson I learned this year is to stop doing things to please or impress others, so I feel like I’m a part of something. The only person I compete with now is myself. I had this other fear of losing friendships or connections because I wasn’t on Instagram or Facebook, or Snap-Chatting regularly. When I quit logging in, I said to myself, well, if those contacts are my friends, they’ll email me or make that great old-fashioned gesture: they’ll text or call.
I’ve also learned the importance of self-worth–how I view myself, not what I want others to see or hear. Social media is just another addiction and part of the vicious cycle we create and attach ourselves to. Not only have I mostly let go of social media, but I’ve also let go of other lingering burdens through journaling, reading, and writing my 5 or 10,000 words each day.
So, my takeaway from 2017 (despite it being a very successful but a roller-coaster of a year) is to rely on mindfulness. To slow down. To only go forward with projects that are 100% complete. To not give in to self-sabotaging behaviors because I fear irrelevant nonsense that is all in my mind, that all came about as a result of over-thinking and overanalyzing outcomes. I’ll be embracing extra time, focusing on my goals and what it is I want to contribute to this world. Most importantly, it’s a beautiful and liberating moment when we physically, mentally, and/or emotionally let go of things or people that no longer serve us. If something is monumentally or even slightly affecting you in a negative way, eliminate it from your life. It’s not at all worth it. Allow the New Year and beyond to be peaceful, joyful and pure happiness.