I let stress get the best of me in 2017. It led to a season of mild depression, during which its cousin anxiety came to roost; it snuggled itself all deep and cozy in my daily thoughts. I think of my anxiety like a hibernating bear in my brain: most of the time he’s quietly sleeping, but when something in my life wakes him, he’s destructive and hungry and difficult to get settled back in his cave.
As I withdrew from my family and friends and burrowed deeper into my unhappy head-space last spring and summer, I found myself spending more and more time glued to my phone, distractedly scrolling through social media feeds. Facebook made me feel frustrated and sad, while Instagram tricked me into thinking everyone else was having a great time, living their best lives as I struggled to get myself off the couch every weekend.
Here’s the thing: I’m a smart, self-aware lady in my 30s, and I know social media is all smoke-and-mirrors. We present our best “curated” selves — I hate that word outside the context of museums, by the way — and hide the messy, complicated parts that make us vulnerable. It hurts my heart to think of how it affects young people who don’t yet recognize this kind of “filtered reality” and how it may shape their self worth.
Those wasted hours would’ve been better spent taking a long walk, having a face-to-face conversation with a friend about my feelings, getting lost in a good book, finding a new creative outlet, or meditating to make some room in my cluttered brain. Anything productive to help me pull myself out of the pit I’d fallen into, and guide that raging bear toward his cave so I could lull him back to sleep.
When the new year began and my fog of depression finally cleared, I set an intention to set some serious boundaries with my social media use. As a small business owner, it’s a necessary evil: I have to maintain an active Facebook page and Instagram for the flower shop to keep our community engaged and interested in our product, but over the years I tricked myself into believing I needed a social media presence for this blog, too. It didn’t feel like enough to just write good content in this space: I needed to “curate” the perfect Instagram (ugh, that word again) while tweeting all my new blog posts and interacting with readers through an active Facebook page. Suddenly it all felt like an obligation, when this blog is a creative outlet that’s supposed to be light and fun!
So I deactivated my Twitter account.
I unpublished the blog’s Facebook page. (I would’ve deactivated my account altogether, but I need it to admin the flower shop’s page; thanks for forcing me to stick around, Zuckerberg & Co.)
I pumped the brakes on Instagram: I switched my @keiralennox profile back to a personal account, took a hiatus from posting ‘grams, and did a lot less scrolling every day. I went long stretches without opening the app on my phone at all; a far cry from the dozen times a day I mindlessly launched it from my home screen when I had a second to spare.
I spent less time online, and more time being present “IRL” and it felt like a weight lifted from my shoulders. It seems like such a silly thing to feel betrothed to your online presence, but I know I’m not the only person who’s struggled with the pressure of juggling all these platforms, especially in the blogging community. I miss the good ol’ days of blogging, when you only had to worry about your own URL; your “little corner of the Internet.” I don’t know how professional bloggers do it these days, when it seems you need to shout your content from every rooftop — Snapchat! Instagram! Twitter! Whatever-The-Youngins-Are-Using-That-I’m-Too-Old-to-Know-About! — and show your readers every nook and cranny of your life to keep their attention among all the clutter. It makes me tired and weary just typing it.
I still want to blog! I want to share all my favorite beauty finds, document my real-life outfits, talk about books and other things I love, and write more long-form content like this. I just want to simplify it all. I want to live in my “little corner of the Internet” and post when I feel inspired and connect with you guys right here. I don’t want to think about things like my “Instagram theme,” or worry about how Facebook’s constantly-changing algorithms hide all my page updates from your news feeds; and I’d honestly like to avoid Twitter altogether. (It’s crazy up in there!)
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Finally, If you’re in a season of struggle and feel overwhelmed and underwater, please know that you’re not alone and “this too shall pass.” Reach out to people you love and trust, and talk it out; speaking about your fears helps take away their power.
If you’re religious, I recommend the book Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado, which gave me a big dose of perspective on my own anxiety. If you’re not, try the 7 Days of Calming Anxiety guided meditation practice in the Calm app, which provides a toolbox of mindfulness practices that helped me immensely. And either way, watch this video of Will Smith talking about how bliss lives on the other side of fear, because it’s an inspiration.