Unplugging to Stay Connected
By Ashlee Wisdom
I decided to take a week-long hiatus from social media because I’ve noticed how much of my time gets stolen from scrolling, swiping, sharing and being all up in everybody’s business but my own. A week long detox isn’t anything drastic, so I’m not writing this to brag like I did something significant. But it was worthwhile and led to some insights, so I’ve decided to put pen to paper as I reflect.
I’ve got to be honest though, what led me to unplug was frustration from a recent situation. I was annoyed and instead of just accepting that I was annoyed and going through the motions to get over it, I began using social media to distract myself from my feelings and to convince myself that I was unbothered. Once I peeped what I was doing, I realized I needed to unplug for a quick minute.
Now, I’m one of the biggest advocates for embracing emotions, accepting that feelings are a part of being human and that we shouldn’t run from them. However, I’ve realized that lately I’ve been trying to duck and dodge from feelings I’m not in the mood to deal with (shout out to self-awareness!) I must have subconsciously told myself that in this season of life, I simply do not have time for anything other than joy, happiness and pleasure. I noticed that instead of accepting that I’m sad, angry, annoyed or anxious about something, I find something to occupy my time and thoughts with so I don’t have to feel those metal clouds--word to my girl Solange. Needless to say, that is unhealthy behavior, and my social media hiatus made it difficult for me to continue to duck & dodge.
This past week I’ve been in a mood! My emotions have been all over the place. From feeling over everything and everybody, to feeling content with life, to feeling optimistic and excited about my future, to being dissatisfied with certain aspects of my life. Like I said, a mood. A complicated, and frustrating one. With no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to escape to, I was stuck in this awkward silence with my thoughts and feelings ready and waiting to break it. Thoughts was like, “Hey, big head.” Feelings were all, “We in dis bih!” Meanwhile, I was like...
As uncomfortable as this past week has been, it was also refreshing to have my thoughts and only my thoughts to ruminate on. I almost forgot what that feels like. And now I know that’s my cue to unplug. Social media is great. I love it for a lot of reasons. But as one of my girlfriends explained, it also gives us too much unnecessary access to people’s lives and vice versa. Constantly having hundreds and thousands of people’s (carefully curated) lives, opinions and thoughts thrown at you by the nanosecond is intense. Overconsumption of these things subconsciously fills us up to the point that we begin to feel like our own stuff is too much to sit with, scroll through, and confront. If we’re not careful, we begin to take on the opinions of others before getting a chance to truly form our own. Too much sharing begins to make us feel like if we didn’t share it, it didn’t happen. And being too concerned with who’s watching you starts to affect how you move. There has to be a moment when we unplug. A moment to be still enough to deal with our stuff and focused enough to create the life we want as opposed to curating the appearance of it online. Whether it be for an extended period of time or a decided cut off time each day, we all should take the time to unplug in order to connect with God (if we believe in God), ourselves, and those whom we love. Our moments to decompress from our busy lives shouldn’t always be spent tuning into someone else’s.
That being said, I had a few life insights this week that I needed right in time as I approach my 28th birthday, and the near end of my graduate school career. Here they are:
It’s ok to be still
Life won’t end because you’re still. In fact, sometimes stillness is the necessary preparation for your next move. Recalibrate, sis, recalibrate.
It’s ok to allow yourself to feel those unpleasant feelings
they don't make you weak. They make you human. If you’re angry , annoyed or sad, feel it and then move the hell on. Don’t dismiss your emotions out of pride.
Allow yourself the space to be frustrated with making yet another not-so-good decision
but always balance that out with pausing to reflect on the lessons learned. There’s always a lesson...Even if that lesson is you knew better so start doing better.
Continue to speak up for yourself and speak your truth
Be comfortable with the fact that errbody ain’t gonna rock with that and be ready for some abrupt departures. It is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t.
Do what you’ve got to do to protect your front lawn (AKA your mental and emotional health)
Block that number if you need to. Unfollow that person if need be. Anyone disrespecting your sacred space, and disrupting your peace with negativity and foolishness needs to be stomped on and shut out. And in that order. Ok ok ok...maybe not stomped on, but definitely shut out!
5 insights in 1 week. Phew! Look what unplugging can do for the spirit! I’m looking forward to more unplugging more connecting and more lessons born out of my growth process. I wish the same for you. Godspeed.
This piece was originally published on Growing Into Wisdom
Ashlee Wisdom, MPH is a writer, public health professional and challenger of the status quo. She is the Founder & Publisher of the Health In Her HUE platform. She enjoys traveling the world, writing, a good brunch, and hosting epic game nights for her friends. You can read more of her personal writing on her Blog Growing Into Wisdom, and you can follow her on Twitter @AshleeWisdom for great laughs and insightful commentary.