Why I Gave Up Social Media

Why You Should Cleanse Yourself from Social Media

It’s not until someone says, “Oh, did you see this on Facebook?” and I reply, “No, I gave up social media for Lent” that they say, “Ohhh that makes sense. I was wondering why you’ve been quiet.”

I’m the type of blogger who is hit with the elusive muse, pounds out a couple of blog posts for a consistent month, and then I just get tired. I get tired by a lot of different things – maybe because I have too many irons in the fire, or the harder truth – maybe because I’m just lazy.

Why I Gave Up an Online Presence 

I gave up social media for Lent for 3 reasons:

1 ) I didn’t think I could. I was so addicted to Scrolling Syndrome that I didn’t actually believe I could make it through an entire work day without checking Facebook. I didn’t think I could sit through a Netflix binge without seeing what was up with Instagram

2 ) I needed to cleanse myself of opinions. I found myself bogged down with everyone’s thoughts and opinions. Anxiety started to take control of my heart and I started worrying about things 100% beyond my control. I questioned people. I questioned myself. I found myself increasingly disappointed with others and myself.

3 ) I couldn’t keep up. I started to see my Instagram following grow. I was hashtagging, curating a “theme” on my feed, and spending way too much time thinking of pictures, how to edit them, and how to caption them. When I first had Instagram, I would scroll for 10 minutes before I went to bed and called it a day. Now I found myself obsessively checking my notifications, planning posts, and forgetting to enjoy the moment without thinking, “How can I add this to my feed?.”

What I Expected

I expected to spend more time in my Bible, in quiet time, and journaling.

I expected my house to get cleaner.

I expected to feel lighter.

I expected to be more productive at work.

I expected to finally get our office organized and finally start on my creative writing portfolio.

I expected to read more.

What Actually Happened

I have been sleeping better because I wasn’t on my phone as much before I go to sleep, and if I was, I was reading my Bible app.

I didn’t spend as much quality quiet time as I thought I would because there were still many other distractions i.e. sleeping in, Netflix, Snapchat, books, Pinterest. . .the list could go on.

My house did not get much cleaner. I’m just not a good housekeeper.

Some days at work I wondered how I was going to fill my time because my to-do list seemed so short. But I found every day there was always something to do even when I didn’t think there was. It’s like the mountains of laundry that are never finished.

I did read more. I read a LOT. And I was able to enjoy it without feeling like I needed to check my phone.

Surprising Finds

I was surprised to find that I didn’t miss Instagram or Twitter one iota throughout my Lenten fast. In fact, I was relieved that I didn’t have the tug to scroll. I did miss Facebook almost every day, though. I felt out of the loop in the lives of people and in the world and I missed the important NY Times and NPR articles about food and anthropology and sociology. Never mind that I could have visited these sites on my own accord. . .

I thought all my anxiety would subside without the Internet world, but anxiety is sometimes inescapable. While it was better, I still experienced bouts of anxiety. It’s up to me to choose what I dwell on. It is up to me to pray through/meditate through those moments when I felt anxiety in the pit of my stomach.

I spent a lot of time introspecting on my online presence and the purpose behind it. I almost didn’t come back. But through the encouragement of my husband, I knew I needed to continue to write.

It’s been a day since I’ve added social media back into my life, and I already hate it. I got on Facebook several times yesterday just for a few minutes each. Did I need to? No. I was just bored.

So moving forward. . .

I know that I don’t need to be on social media when I’m bored. I can find other things to do.

I know that I need to find time to myself throughout the day where I’m not with my phone. The silence is so refreshing.

I know that I need to continue writing, both on the blog, and in my personal time. I am so thankful to have a place where I can share my thoughts. I forget how much I love the quiet of a morning with my cup of coffee, the sun pouring in, and the clackity-clack of my fingers dancing across the keyboard. Thank you for continuing on this journey with me.

 

Publishing for Yourself

publish for yourself

After I went political on Facebook, I dove deep into a Gilmore Girls binge. I hid under the covers of provocative books [provactive here meaning books that take your breath away with the cruelty of man, causing your brain to process multiple emotions at once – anger, shock, sadness, relief – and filter through thoughts such as “This happens in real life.”] and surrounded myself with happy throw pillows.

Most of my thoughts lately have been released into safer spheres like my journal and my husband, friends who agree, friends with different perspectives and a Jesus who listens, even on those days where praying is sometimes an afterthought.

Introspection:searching for God in you

Bravery is confronting yourself before you put yourself out there. It’s a year of new adventures and I’ve lazily been avoiding the art of introspection. I’m learning that introspection is not about me. Introspection is about finding who God made me to be.

You can’t be authentic online when you’re not authentically you

The important things my heart needs to say are trapped between lists and DIY projects. In my creative writing class in college, my professor critiqued my submissions saying, “Make this sound less bloggy.” I’ve been bloggy for almost 5 years and that puts my writing style in a box.

The search continues

Every so often you have to go back and find your voice. The last time I tried to post 5 days ago my words just trailed off and I found myself too deep in thought and too frustrated with the writer’s block.

I write about it often – the curse of the blinker and the white screen. I’ve found that blogging comes easier when I write it down on paper first.

A lot of bloggers talk about writing for your audience. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. And I agree half heartedly.

I would say first:

Know yourself.
Know your worth.

And it’s ok to publish for yourself. The people who want to see more of you will show up.

The Blogging Balance Beam

The Blogging Balance Beam

When you’re a lifestyle blogger, you do crazy things. You take a picture of your food; you Snapchat a story about homemade DIY Dry Shampoo; and sometimes you take personal moments and craft them into a story that your readers will love. I love blogging, but I also have had to learn about boundaries and how to juggle life and blogging at the same time.

The other day I was at the Cheesecake Factory with my boss (thankfully we have a tight knit office and she is also a millennial) and I just had to take a picture of my cheesecake. The waitress walks up while I’m practicing iPhone photography and I defended myself by saying, “I’m a blogger.” and then I thought to myself, I don’t really have to take a picture of that cheesecake. The world will still turn on its axis if I don’t post a picture on Instagram today. We will all be okay if I spend Sunday evening trying to regain my bearings after a full weekend of Mother’s Day and graduation instead of trying to pound out a blog post at 10:30 when I’m exhausted and incoherent.

As lifestyle bloggers, we are able to write about anything we want, and so sometimes it’s hard to have boundaries. I use to spend a lot of my brain power and thinking time about how I could turn an ordinary occasion into a moment to memorialize forever through a creative writing piece or the blog. But I’ve come to realize in my 5 years of blogging that there are special moments that are meant just for real life and the Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook/Blog world will survive if they don’t know all the details of the exact moment.

As someone who loves to entertain and overshare in general, this was a hard conclusion to come to. I want to share anything exciting in my life and let people into my story. But not everyone deserves to know every little detail of every story. We have to hold our stories sacred and share them with those we trust.

Not only do we have to be careful about what we share, we also have to protect our time and the important people in our lives. Some days a planned post doesn’t go up because I chose to spend time with people and go to sleep rather than stay up late to write a post. And other days, because this is my passion and my hobby, I have to protect my blog space and my blog time and take the time to invest in this little corner of the Internet. It’s like a blogging balance beam. Every day is just one foot in front of the other.

What do you guys to do balance blogging and life? 

 

10 Signs It’s Finally Spring

10 Signs It's FINALLY Spring

Last month I was quite the bitter betty because it was the first day of spring and we were experiencing a frigid Dogwood Winter. This weekend, I spent a glorious Sunday by a river and walking around my favorite city in the East: Downtown Asheville. I wore a t-shirt and my floppy hat and I was in a good. mood. Y’all, it is FINALLY spring time and I could be none the happier. In case it’s not spring where you live, (I’m looking at you, Canada), here are the tell-tale signs it is finally spring time!

1 – Your car has a thick layer of yellow-green stuff allll over. Do you wash it? Do you wait for summer to arrive and the pollination season to cease? Who knows. My car is gold, so it practically matches the pollen anyway.

2 – Speaking of pollen, you can’t breathe and neither can your S/O. Invest in some ear plugs and allergy medicine instead of plotting how to best cut off his nose because he won’t. quit. snorting.

3 – Skies out, Thighs out. A couple of summers ago, I worked an internship with the epitomy of a frat boy who said this. I couldn’t sand the kid, but this phrase has been in my vocabulary since then. Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts. Even though it’s only 67° out.

4 – And you know short shorts in April mean you need to put on your sunglasses just to keep from being blinded by those (me) who have hid their legs from any UV rays since September. Sorry, guys. My paleness will destroy your eyes.

5 – 1 word: Chacos.

10 Signs It's Finally Spring

6 – You discover you have a serious case of Officesitis. Officesitis (n): An illness brought by the onset of sun and warm weather. Similar to Senioritis. Used in a sentence: “Dear Boss, I cannot come into work today. Yeah, I’m really sick. . . with officesitis.”

7 – You actually feel like being a real person, who does real things past 5pm. Dinner on the patio at 7:30? Yes! Going for a leisurely stroll at 8? Yes!

8 – You are suddenly motivated to work out. Running outside sounds like fun again instead of something dreadful. Unless you hate running.

9 – Everybody is posting beach pictures. Half of them are probably from last summer. But still.

10 – Oops. You had to buy a new wardrobe. #Because Spring.

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5 Questions to Ask During a Blogging Break

5 Questions to Ask During a Blogging Break

Going into my senior year of college and especially this year afterwards, I’ve struggled on and off with publishing 5 posts a week. Some weeks I do it and my content is great and some weeks I do it and my content, in the words of a three year old, is poopy. I’ve found myself getting stressed over the content I publish: How do I title things to draw readers? How do I push my follower count? How do I raise my page views? How do I theme my Instagram? It’s hard to write when everyone else seems to be writing about the same things. We can only read so many posts on “The Best 7 Steps to Revamp Your Morning Routine!” and they all basically say the same thing.

I woke up one Monday morning a few weeks ago without a post scheduled, and the same thing happened on Tuesday, and so on. The following week I decided to purposefully take a break from blogging. But rather than just sit and do nothing, I still engaged with blogs I love, shared some favorite posts from other bloggers on my site, and took time to read, enjoy living life, and be creative.

Blogging breaks are not only beneficial, but necessary in combatting blogger burnout. It gives you a chance to recharge, sit back, and rethink your goals for your blog. While I was on my break, I meant to go through Helene in Between’s Blog Detox. That didn’t happen, because life, but during my break, I was able to ask myself some important questions:

Why do I blog?
What do I want to say?
Why do I want to continue blogging?
Why should I stop blogging?
What would happen if I stopped blogging?

Why Do I Blog?

I think any person who started off blogging as a hobby has to ask him/herself these questions at least twice a year, if not twice a month. Or maybe every time you hit “publish!” Something I had to come to realize at the end of my blogging break is that I have to stop writing for other people. Yes, I want people to read what I have to say because as an ESFJ, I love affirmation. But I have to get back to the root of why I started blogging. I started blogging because I wanted to keep a place for my family and friends back home to read my thoughts and my journey through college. I can’t believe it, but I’ve had this blog for FIVE YEARS as of last Friday. I totally forgot. SEE?! This is what Blogger Burnout does to you. It’s a witch, I tell ya. I continued blogging once I found out there was a whole community of bloggers because I wanted to better my writing style and have a creative outlet. In a world of Buzzfeed and Twitter, we are accustomed to skimming. We need the bold print, we can’t read more than 140 characters at a time. We have turned from writing heart-felt posts into writing listicles (a word I just discovered last week – it’s when you combine articles and lists together, not just a gross way to say list.) Heck, I even turned this heart-felt post into a listicle just for convenience sake for all the lazy eyes. I admit, I skim read through posts as well. I want the meat, and forget the salad. But in this evolved writing style, maybe we have lost the art of creative writing. And it discourages me. Because there are times when my thoughts need more than a list, or more than a character limit.

What Do I Want to Say? 

I am an over-sharer by nature. I can’t ever really think of a time when it is a good thing – unless you want to get to know all of me within a one hour conversation. I want to say a lot of things. I want to tell you about the amazing sushi I had this weekend at this adorable place in Nashville called “Dear Sushi.” I want to explicate a favorite passage in a book. I want to tell you how much I love watching Netflix. But I also want to tell you how I feel about the current political situation right now I want to tell you about how my mind always jumps to the worst-case scenario first, and that it is taking conscious choice and prayer to get to a place where I’m not always fearful. I want to tell you about my crazy neighbors. . . .but that will have to wait for a day when I’ve moved out. I want to say a lot. This is why I’m a lifestyle blogger. I don’t want to be tied down to one specific genre. Yet I see lifestyle bloggers all the time who might as well be categorized as blog strategy bloggers. I LOVE blogging. But I want to read about your life. And I want to tell you about mine.

Why Do I Want to Continue Blogging? 

I wrestle with this one almost every time I have to sit down to write. Do I continue blogging for the affirmation? Do I have an end goal? When will enough be enough? I don’t have all the answers for this one, and it will probably take a lot more introspection to get there. Here is what I know so far: I love writing. I love the opportunity to put something out there for other people to review & critique. I also love meeting new bloggers. Last summer I made one of my closest friends through blogging. And I love it! I get to hear about her life, but also she pushes me through navigating the wonderful world of blogging.

Why Should I Stop Blogging?

Unfortunately, I can think of a lot of reasons why I should stop blogging. Sometimes it stresses me out, and sometimes I don’t have time to blog every day. I get tired of writing pointless listicles, but then again I don’t like being vulnerable all the time. I put too much thought and consideration into what I should say, how often I should tweet, and making sure my content is pinnable and my Instagram pictures are all pretty and in order. Making friends is fun, but networking is exhausting. A lot of times I feel like I should stop blogging because it’s become more than a hobby and a passion, it has become business like.

What Would Happen if I Stopped Blogging?

I would delete all of my social media. At least for a little while. I would like to think I would spend more time writing creatively. I would read more. I would stop caring so much about what other people think. Granted, that is an ideal world. Who knows what would really happen. Perhaps I would get fat and happy watching Food Network and eating Doritos. It’s highly likely.

Despite it all, I’m going to keep blogging. I believe we have a good thing going here. I believe I have an opportunity to make it even better. It’s an adventure of growing, changing, and learning. But I’m going to stop taking the pressure off myself. Believe it or not, I figured out how to theme my Instagram and so far, so good. I’m still posting the same things I would normally post. I just get to make them prettier. I’m still tweeting out my posts several times a week. I’m still networking. And I’m still writing. But I’m not going to stress out if I don’t publish 5 posts a week. And I’m not going to be sad that I completely missed my sweet little blog’s 5 year anniversary.

And as always, I’m going to go treat myself to a latte. Because lattes are like little hugs for your soul.

5 questions to ask during a blogging break