I’ve successfully completed my first Less For Now Challenge! In my post It’s Time I Stop Lying To Myself I discussed my reasons for doing this challenge, with the main one being that I wanted to improve the way I spend my time. So, for one month I eliminated all social media from my life. The results are in folks and per the stats on my phone, my usage is down by 29%!!! Eliminating social media has in fact improved the way I spend my time and I learned a few things about myself in the process.
When you eliminate social media and gain over an hour of your day back you have to spend it doing something. So how did I fill my time when I didn’t have Facebook or Pinterest to grab my attention? I cleaned. I needed to keep myself busy so I wasn’t reaching for my phone. I became acutely aware of the fact that I reach for my phone about a thousand times per day, especially when I’m bored. So I needed to keep my hands busy. After about a week of cleaning and catching up on errands and tasks that I had been putting off I found myself reaching for my phone less. My mind seemed less distracted and I was able to sit down and write for my blog. I was able to focus on reading a book. I evaluated my finances and made a few changes to how we were managing them. I even took the time during the middle of the day to soak in a hot bath and nap, which was amazing.
When I still found myself reaching for my phone on occasion, a habit that is going to take some time to break, I would listen to a podcast or catch up on a few blogs I like to read. After the challenge, I’m more at ease to put the phone down and leave it alone. I don’t need it as much as I think I do and my life is improved when I’m using my time in other ways. Do I miss social media? Initially I did, but as the month continued I learned a few things about myself that lead me to believe my hiatus from social media may be a permanent one.
In the first two weeks of being off social media I found myself feeling as if I was missing something. What are my friends up to? What’s going on in their lives that I’m not aware of because I’m not on Facebook? These questions morphed into other questions such as, Do they miss me? Do they realize I’m not on Facebook anymore?
Obviously, these former coworkers, former classmates, former neighbors and random people who know me because of someone else are not friends in my real life. They were at one point “friends by convenience”. This is a term I like to use for coworkers because it’s so common for a friendship to develop when you see each other five days a week, but once one of you leaves the job 99% of the time that “friendship” isn’t maintained. This also applies for classmates. These people shared a precious time with me, but that’s where it ends. They only know my life as it’s edited for social media. They don’t really know me. So it was no surprise to find that it’s been over a month now since my challenge started and not a single “friend” has reached out to me.
It’s amazing how many people think their lives are full of friends because of social media, but leave it for a while and see how many people reach out. How many people noticed you were no longer posting? How many reached out to make sure you were ok? It’s been a very eye opening experience for sure.
The other thing I learned about myself is that I require more attention and validation than I realized…which is really embarrassing to admit. I found myself reaching for my phone wanting to post a picture I had taken so someone would comment on it and hit the “like” button. I’m aware that people edit their photos and make their lives look picture perfect on social media so people will validate them in some way but it took me by surprise when I noticed this behavior in myself. Becoming aware of my need for attention or validation on a daily basis was a shock to my self esteem. I didn’t realize I needed people to like me so much until I found myself with the urge to post something in order to get those “likes”. But you can’t fix something until you know it’s broken so at least I’m aware of it now and can work towards validating myself more instead of requiring it from “friends” on social media.
When I started this blog I was having the mental debate on whether I should publish my blog posts on social media. This debate continued until the end of this challenge when I came to the conclusion that the only reason to post on social media is to get more followers, so then I had to ask myself, “Why do you need followers?” Taking the social media break allowed me to see that followers would be another form of validation for myself. I was also able to see that a lack of followers or “likes” would wreck my self esteem and lead me to believe that I’m not a good writer.
Am I writing to get followers? No…I’m writing because I want to create something. I enjoy it. It seems like a nice way to document my journey and thoughts and writing is a skill I want to improve on. Leaving social media allowed me to see some ugliness in myself. Now, I’m aware that I need to love myself more, and going forward, it will be the one thing that I don’t simplify.