I didn’t grow up in a church that ever really took much notice of the church calendar, apart from Easter and Christmas, so the season of Lent didn’t really come on to my radar until my early 20s. There was a period of time where it was fashionable in my social circle to give something up for Lent, and me being your typical Enneagram 3, I naturally wanted to prove that I could excel at self-discipline, so I gave up listening to music in my car for 6 weeks (which was harder than you would think).
I think there may have been another year where I gave up chocolate – but since I could still eat lollies, it really didn’t move me to any spiritual epiphanies. As a side note, fasting in general has never been easy/possible for me (blood sugar issues) – evidenced by the one time I decided to do a fruit and veggie fast for seven days, but after day 1, I was in such a hangry mess that I had convinced myself that hot chips, potato fritters, and popcorn were all technically veggies – but I digress.
This year, for various reasons, the Lenten season took shape and meaning for me, and I wanted to give up something that would be a real sacrifice. So, I gave up social media. For six weeks. Now, I’m not a huge poster on social, but I really am (was) an avid consumer. My guess is that I would pick up my phone at least every half hour to have a wee scroll through people’s updates and stories. I have no shame in admitting I was addicted and have been ever since I joined up about 10 years ago.
I got about three weeks into my social hiatus, and consciously thought that nothing much had changed – except my head was a bit quieter. Then, about a month in, Caleb and I were watching a movie, and when we got to the end, he was like, “Babe, I can’t believe you actually watched a whole movie!” And I was like, “Yeah – I guess I’ve just been feeling really present in my life lately.” I figured that after a couple of years, all the mindfulness, deep breathing, and sitting in nature had finally started helping me be more engaged in my life. But then the penny dropped.
Throughout the past six weeks, I have been able to be IN my life like no other time I can remember. I feel content, present, engaged, still and peaceful. Don’t get me wrong, I still pick up my phone a lot – checking my email, reading my Google feed etc, but a massive shift has taken place.
You see, I’ve discovered that when I’m constantly transplanting myself from my life to vicariously engage in other people’s lives, it’s just not possible to stay present in my own.
I’ve got a 100 different reasons/excuses why it would be fine, even beneficial, for me to go back to my previous social use – half of my friends and all of my family live across the other side of the world, I need the mental break in the middle of my brain-heavy workday, if I don’t, I run the risk of becoming socially irrelevant, etc. However, I have made the decision that as valid as these reasons may be, they are too high a price to pay for my peace.
Now that I have experienced what it feels like to fully inhabit my life, I am willing to forgo the benefits of Insta to keep it.
I know that someone reading this right now is thinking, “Aha, but you’re on social media right now!” – thank you, Sherlock, yes I am. I download the apps on Saturday morning, delete them on Saturday night, and give myself a window for posting and engaging with my blog. And it’s really working for me.
So yeah, this is not a big sell that everyone should follow my lead, or even a humble-brag about my impressive self-restraint – but I just wanted to let you know that what three years of trying mindfulness, breathwork, and solitude didn’t quite achieve, six weeks without social media, did.
Love you friends,