January 25, 2023 4 Comments
I left social media for over 30 days. Technically, I've just logged into Instagram today to lurk. Facebook is my real vice. In 2009 or whenever I said I'd never join Facebook and yet here we are. I've had a love/hate relationship with Facebook for a long time. I never got into Twitter, it always felt too angry, especially now.
Why I Left
At the end of December I was about to take my normal Christmas vacay and after a bad client came around, I realized my break needed to be longer than normal. I finished up whatever business I absolutely needed to do and left.
I uninstalled Facebook and Instagram and blocked them on my computer. I’ve done this before and usually I just go on Facebook on my phone’s web browser but I knew I needed a total detox. I left social media like it was an abusive relationship and, I suppose, it had become a bit like that.
I would scroll for hours each day and I could feel my mood and perception of the world worsen with it. I would inevitably feel like I could be doing MORE, even though I was totally burned out. I really beat myself up a lot, and I could feel that getting worse whenever I would scroll.
I was feeling really burned out. I’ve been feeling really challenged by life lately. I feel the tension between my work life and my life as a parent. That tension hasn’t left a lot of room for Erin. I felt like I absolutely had no choice but to unplug.
How did I feel 1 week in
Initially, I struggled to stop the urge to open social media. I felt like I was missing the scroll. To scratch the itch, I opened the weather app. Ahh, it’s -10 and it might snow tomorrow. It really did help scratch the itch and remind myself of what I was doing and why. Jeez, I didn’t realize that I looked at social media that much, I’ve checked the weather 8 times this morning.
I realized that I was distracting myself so much that I hadn’t realized how I was really feeling. As I let go of the distractions I could also feel myself slowing down. I needed a lot of decompression but I wasn’t able to do it in a vacuum anymore.
My daughter is two and a bit now. While she brings light and love to my life, as she changes phases it demands new things from me. I could decompress alone before and now I didn’t have that choice. I needed to learn new tools.
You see, I don’t work in the business of hard labour. My job isn’t to lift heavy things or work with my body. My job also isn’t to work with just my mind. I’m not mindlessly entering data which takes little to no investment of myself. I’m an artist.
It’s a weird thing, to be an artist. No one seems to understand it, including myself. I’m still understanding what it takes to be a creative person.
However I do know that it requires your heart to be in the right alignment. When you’re working with your heart things can flow very easily and the work has an ability to truly connect with others. When you’re not working with your heart, it’s not like other jobs, something feels off. The work doesn’t connect and it can take an invisible toll on you.
It sounds like then, that you just need to do what you’re passionate about. But it’s not really that simple.
I think of creativity as a little fire, burning in the center of your chest. That little fire needs to be tended to, gently and lovingly. My little fire thrives off of authentic experiences, love, gentleness, solitude, nature and family. When tended to, that little fire can create beautiful and moving works of art.
However, I’m constantly feeling like this little fire’s needs come in direct opposition to the capitalistic world that we live in. Tending to that little fire can mean that more time is spent NOT creating than creating. It can mean that when it’s working properly, I actually need to be not doing work. It’s a very strange conundrum that I hardly understand.
Enter, social media. I have a hard time finding a way to have social media FUEL my fire, rather than take from it. It can feel like I’m already depleted but I need to continue to put myself out there.
Most of my work has nothing to do with social media. I can build a whole website, send packages, paint, teach courses without any social media at all.
However, it’s a necessary thing in this world, to have a solid social media presence. But I feel the additional pressures to ensure that it adequately showcases my authentic personality. It can feel like a full-time job just to get the algorithm to show your content. It's constantly judging you about how often you post, whether people engage with your posts, whether it’s a video or an image and other completely unknown factors. If it thinks you passed the test, you can have your post shown. It builds a ton of resentment in myself and many others out there.
However, I think the biggest struggle that I have is to balance my life as a parent and my life as a working artist. My daughter is growing. She knows that mommy sits in her studio now and screams at the door because she wants to play tea party with mommy. Mommy goes and plays but mommy can’t play tea party all day. I constantly feel like I'm failing on all fronts.
But that's not really the lesson to take away from it. Not truly. The lesson isn't, you are inadequate. It's life is more than this.
She reminds me that life should be FUN. Life should be lived, in all it’s stages. It doesn’t need to be full of chores and things I ‘need’ to do. It also needs big laughs that make your cheeks hurt.
I think I needed a break to just live my life and weave in the trips to the pool, the park, to Grama’s house. I needed to spend weeks beading earrings and Christmas gifts. I needed to do pointless stuff to just bring that joy into my life. What’s more is I need that regularly in my life.
Life doesn’t need to be a perfectly staged instagram post, or a flawless house. Life is markers on the wall, again. I just cleaned that omg. It’s fucking messy. It’s snuggles and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s the tomato soup all over her princess dress. Omg I just put that on her.
I often feel like parenting is something that I don’t want to share, because I want to protect her (and myself). But some days, I also just need to share what my life is authentically like. Sometimes it’s me hiding with the dog in the boot room, because we’re both being pestered and we just need a break.
I also need authenticity. That’s what this whole blog is. It’s me, being my messy and true self.
This past month and some has been a real relief, but I can definitely feel the call of social media, pulling me back. I’ve been working on my website all month and soon it’ll be ready to launch. I hope that I can have a new era of authenticity and drop any of the airs of social media perfection. That shit was killing me and I wasn’t even doing a good job of it.
Thanks for sticking around with me. I know that you're here because we’ve had some sort of connection and that’s really cool. If you feel like you need to unplug, I completely understand you. I’ve got a newsletter which is supposed to post monthly, but sometimes it’s less than that. I put a lot of work into it, I hope you enjoy it!
Alright, I’m outta here. My husband is coming home with the baby and I’ve got a lovely little girl to snuggle. <3