The Series That Cannot Be Named ... Month 2
If you’re catching up, I’m on a 1-year journey to figure out what I want. About discovering what it would take for me to show up in the world every day both happy and content. I couldn’t come up with a name for this series, but my wonderful Instagram followers gave me so many that I decided I’ll share a different one each month.
(Special thanks to Brandee from Judith + Joe for this month’s name.)
Social Media Sucks
I’m writing this to you from a little room tucked back in the woods. I’ve been on a writing retreat for a few days, trying to finish a project that I’ve had rolling around in my brain for almost two years. More on that to come.
I deleted Instagram off my phone and only used it on my desktop when I was looking for resources necessary to finish this project. I used Facebook, but only in the relevant groups. When I needed a break, I opened a book. I went for a walk. I snuggled with my dog (I brought my dog!).
But in the brief moments when I did log on, I was flooded with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. I was overwhelmed by my lack of “enough-ness.” When I’m working on something big, my default is to doubt myself. But everything was quieter when I shut it all down.
For just a few days, I was a person who didn’t look at her phone all day. I haven’t been that person in years. I still used it, but I didn’t feel shackled to it.
I’m going to say something really honest. Judge me if you must, but it’s the truth:
I’m missing out on a lot of my life.
I’m missing it because I’m watching Instagram stories or stalking other photographers/copywriters or listening to a podcast that feels urgent and important. When I stop to think about this, it’s incredibly sad.
The saddest part is that I feel like we all are. The reason people have to detox from social media is because we have all accepted that it’s OK and it’s just how it is now. We act as if we have no control over it. I actually feel as if I have no control over it.
But I’m taking back control and choosing to show up for my life. I spent almost every weekend traveling this month, and one with my whole family here in PA. When I’m with people that I don’t usually get time with, I’m present. I lose my phone. I forget that social media exists for days at a time.
My husband and daughter deserve that same level of attention. They deserve it more than anyone and somewhere along the way I got that backwards. When I look through the photos on my phone, I see mostly moments where I wasn’t thinking about social media. I see their relationship, the one that I get the lucky privilege to witness on the daily. But that’s just it. I want to actually witness it. They didn’t choose someone who prioritizes people on the internet over them. I can’t be that person for them.
These are my favorite videos about how detrimental social media is. Don’t worry, they’re funny. I feel like I should be forced to watch them every time I want to log in. (There’s an app idea.) They’ve been around for years but they are fantastic reminders that we all need to do better here: Louis CK on Conan and Simon Sinek on Inside Quest.
Really smooth subject transition, comin’ at ya …
Christian Eye Rolls
I lived and breathed Christian content for a lot of my life: books (yes, I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye but also his less popular follow-up, Boy Meets Girl), music (my first concert was Rebecca St James), magazines (Brio, anyone?), and eventually podcasts and blogs when those became a thing. If it was a type of media and Christians did it, I consumed it.
There came a time, a little less than a decade ago, when I realized that maybe I wasn’t getting the most well-rounded perspective. I still kept it at about 50/50, half Christian/half not. But I was choosier about who I followed and allowed to infiltrate my ideology. I started vetting people through the lens of my own beliefs about faith, politics, and morals. If they didn’t align with me on most of my beliefs, I didn’t consume their stuff.
Then maybe 3 years ago, I felt myself rolling my eyes at some of the Christian-ese in these books/podcasts/articles. It felt very much like Jesus didn’t deserve my eye rolls, so rather than fixing my attitude, I just stopped. I stepped back from most faith-based literature. It felt like everything was either political or cheesy and I hated the way I felt when I was reading it.
After almost 30 years of all things Christian all the time, I wanted a break. So I took it. I think it was healthy—absence makes the heart grow fonder and all of that. But I think this pause closed me off to a lot of great ideas and a lot of capital T Truth.
That’s what it always was: a pause. I didn’t “walk away” from anything. I just hit pause. And just this month, I decided my break was over. It’s really hard to be into Jesus and ignore everyone who writes about him. I realized that I don’t need to agree with every belief an author holds to appreciate their writing. And I’m ready to dive back in. You’ll see one of the books at the end with some Christian authors.
Admittedly, some of the language still makes me cringe. But I can push past that now because I realize it’s me, not them. Even through the cringing, it felt a little like coming home. The words are cheesy but familiar. The sentiments are liberating and encouraging. I’m happy to have them back.
Rachel, Those Things Don’t Go Together
Well, sure they do. Showing up in my life means showing up in my faith. It means centering my daily activities around what I value and giving it my attention. I value my family, my relationships, helping others, and honestly? I value choosing to make all of those things fun.
I could never be enough for all of that. But the whole point of believing in a higher power is the freedom of knowing we aren’t on our own. That there is Someone doing it with us (cue that terrible poem about footsteps in the sand). That there is a plan bigger and greater than any we create.
So I think this month I remembered that I don’t have to be enough for and that God doesn’t require anything of me. He requires my presence and my attention, both of which have been in short supply. I want to show up more. I don’t want to miss out on my life.
My Round-Up of #ShowingUp Resources
A life book I loved … Nothing To Prove by Jennie Allen. I’ve had this book since it came out in early 2018. It sat in a box since then. I lost the desire to read it. I just cracked it open and it’s just exactly what my heavy, insecure heart needed to read. I feel lighter and less alone. Jennie is intense (I attended the first ever IF:Gathering back in the day), but it’s that intensity that makes her worth listening to.
A business book I liked … REWORK by Jason Fried + David Heinemeier Hansson. This book is all about upending some common business practices that might not actually be helping you. They debunk the myth that everything getting done faster is better, that growing your company quickly means you’re successful, and you actually don’t ever want workaholics for employees. “Do less than your competitors to beat them. Solve the simple problems and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to the competition.”
A memoir that made me sob … Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb. She’s a therapist who talks about her work and her own journey through therapy. She is smart, empathetic, and funny. I got the audiobook of this and loved listening to the stories as if someone was just telling me them. I can’t stop thinking about it and cannot recommend it enough.
Two podcasts I loved … EnneaSummer series by Annie F. Downs on the That Sounds Fun podcast. She did a whole summer talking about the Enneagram and yep, I was into it. Paul Jarvis wrote a book called Company of One, which is sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read. It’s all about staying small in business and why that might be the best way forward. He also has a podcast about it and I’ve been loving it. The episodes are short and sweet.