A Social Media Break
I had the honor of being in one of my best friend’s wedding a few weekends ago. The day after the wedding, I had coffee with the bride and our other dear friend. I started telling them about how my postpartum funk had begun to show its ugly face again once I started back up to work in August. I keep thinking I am past it, but then stress hits and bam, I am completely brought to my knees by my inability to cope with it all. My friends asked me (more like begged me) to start putting myself first so I could get a grasp on things and when they inquired what helped me, I responded “to write”.
So here I am trying to get all of the words that bounce around in the back of my head into one place. Bear with me, it’s a long one.
I’ll start off by saying that I am in a really weird space in terms of how I feel about social media. Seeing how I use social media a lot, and how most of you are reading this because of the cyber world, it seems only suiting that I be honest with you all about my contemplations these days regarding Instagram and blogging.
I tragically lost an old college buddy a few months ago. I miss him so much. Like so, so much. One of the last things he talked about before he died was how he wished more people would be kinder to one another. His words really stuck with me. I wanted to honor these last wishes. I initially thought that taking Winter to do ten random acts of kindness and blogging about it was a genuine way to do just that.
When Brittany and I had some extra time, I started doing some random acts of kindness while she captured it (the photos in this series were the supposed to be the start to the first post about it). But as I started putting flowers on cars in a parking lot with Winter in my arms, I got this gut wrenching rush of anxiety. I asked Brittany if we could leave immediately and raced to the car and began to cry. Brittany, being one of the nicest souls in the world, asked me what was wrong and eventually I was able to articulate that I didn’t know why I was doing these random acts of kindnesses anymore. Were they for my friend or for the blog? Not being able to discriminate my intentions made me feel morally off base. That moment also made me realize that I had not taken the time to properly grieve the loss of my friend, and less importantly, it made me do some soul searching over the subsequent weeks on what the hell I am doing on social media anyway.
When Brittany, Winter and I got back to the house, we decided that we would still do the random acts of kindness together but that there would not be any photos taken. Just the three us on the streets of Denver, trying to make others smile in the name of my dear friend. I can only hope he knows that every time I do a random act of kindness from this day forward, it’s for him.
That event in the parking log triggered a lot of feelings. When I started posting to Instagram consistently, I never dreamed that I would have made so many connections or real friends through an app. I had no idea that I could make a little money here and there to help support my family in the process of supporting brands and products that I use and believe in. All of the aforementioned statements make me feel good about why I am on social media; but, I also have to be very mindful of the other feelings that came up for me that have done quite the contrary.
As I began networking more and more and talking to other bloggers and Instagrammers, I started feeling terrible about myself. Asking myself questions like “Why can’t you post blogs as often as them, take as good as pictures, or the worst of them all, make as much money?” I viewed their success as my failures and it sent me into a tailspin that I just didn’t like. I have never been one to be jealous or hard on myself because of the success of others. My whole career as a psychologist has been devoted to finding the best in people, helping them to believe in themselves so that they can love themselves, love others and reach their goals. I kept thinking, “Who was this monster in my head?”. “Why am I wasting my time thinking about what other people are doing in the cyber world when I have very real problems and issues to process through?” I realized after a series of gut checks and mulling over my feelings, I was displacing a lot of my anger and grief and trying to keep my mind busy with collaborations and trying to turn my blog and Instagram account into a huge success (whatever that means).
I have to remember why I started all of this. My truest intention was that I wanted to learn how to take photos, document my journey as a new mother, and connect with others. I cannot express what it means to me when someone writes me and says that they can relate to my stories about breastfeeding, how hard marriage is after baby, or how beautiful motherhood can be. Those emails and comments make my day! It drives me to keep posting the good, the bad and the ugly. I have to remember that life is not a curated magazine and I sincerely hope that all my posts haven’t come across that way.
I still feel like a lot my initial intentions ring true, but the crap about “Keeping up with the Joneses” needs to stop. I have to be done comparing myself to others. I have to be done trying to get “the shot” every, single day. It’s exhausting. I want to post more freely, speak more truly and document my days when it feels right.
So is this end for me on social media? No, not yet. I will continue to partner with brands I believe in, network and hone my photography skills. But, you can bet your ass that Instagram will no longer be the first thing I look at in the morning or the last thing before bed. I won’t let it bring me feelings of inferiority any longer and most important of all, I will try my best to never confuse my real world feelings with online ones. Dear god, if someone sees me becoming that social media monster again, smash my phone because real life has wayyyyyyyyy more pixels and I don’t want to miss it because I’m staring down at the screen.
Photography by Brittany Renee'