A 1 Year Journey
STARTING AUGUST 1ST
Yesterday I turned 33, after one of the most monumental years of my life. My son, Hosea, was born 4 days before my last birthday, so this birthday represents not just another year of my life, but the completion of the first year of his life and of my first year of motherhood.
One of the things that’s been difficult throughout this transition has been the constant distraction from processing, accepting, and embracing my own story–the story God is writing with my life.
Social Media has been an escape in ways, a way to reach for something or distract myself during my short breaks while baby is napping. But somewhere in the cacophony of images, opinions, and promotions
I have lost myself in the throws of comparison and insecurity.
There are certainly elements that are good and helpful in using Facebook, baby blog sites, and Pinterest–for instance, easy recipes, medical advice, and reconnecting with a couple of old friends I may not have been able to find otherwise–and for those things I am very thankful.
But overall, this year in particular, I have been more overwhelmed and discouraged by it all than being uplifted or edified. To be honest, I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and discontent as I look at images of other people’s lives who appear much more “perfect” than my own. I put the word perfect in quotation marks because I know deep down that perfection is a facade–appearances are misleading and I’m sure there is much more to each of these displayed stories than I can see or perceive. But even just the constant “looking in” on other people’s lives and experiences on the Facebook News Feed without having true interaction (in which I would most assuredly encounter a more holistic view of their stories) or the barrage of virtual images as I scroll endlessly down Pinterest pages, is enough to capture me in a maze of distraction and longing for something “out there”…something unreachable or unrealistic (or just someone else’s) in the context of my actual, tangible, humble, imperfect life. All this, and it takes so much of my time that I could be using to do something that really would enrich my life right here and now.
I say this to acknowledge my humanity. My embarrassing, though I would guess not too uncommon, struggle with making comparisons is something I want to name, confess, grapple with, and have victory over. Someone I admire very much posted a statement that said “comparison is one of the greatest robbers of joy”. I could not agree more…
The most regrettable thing to me about this confession is that this struggle is more acute in my life right now than at any other time I can remember. I think back to my years growing up, or particularly in college, when the closest thing to social media was MSN Messenger, aol, or hotmail. Texting on cell phones was barely making its way into people’s lives my senior year, and most of my college career I only owned an “emergency” cell phone basically only used for my travel between Omaha and Denver. My friends and I still laughed and cut up about making funny answering machine messages for our dorm or home phones. I still knew people’s phone numbers by heart, called to get together with friends, and…wait for it….wrote “snail-mail” letters! Myspace was breaking the scenes for young people and Facebook was just appearing as a network for college students. I remember it feeling a bit awkward and vulnerable to put my life “out there” for everyone and anyone to see. Still I ventured out, as we all did.
When I think back to those earlier days I think about how I lived life with such freedom—relationally, physically, and spiritually.
I lived in my moments. I lived in my moments. I lived in my moments.
I created out of my own experiences, imagination, and discoveries instead of trying to live up to something currently “trending” all over the internet. I was just…me. I was growing and being impacted by real encounters with real people. I read books and magazines, I dappled my home with the things that I loved not caring about whether or not someone else loved them. It was easier then to slow down, step back, and to look to the Lord, my Creator, for counsel, inspiration, affirmation, and identity. It was easier then to make the effort to truly engage with my friends and loved ones–because I had to– if I wanted a relationship. The truth is that I still have to, only social media disguises that need and deceives me into thinking I’m really keeping in touch with people–but it’s disengaged. Though I’ve done it a little, I miss writing letters to my beloved long-distance friends. I miss the chance of receiving that special treasure of a letter in return with a dear friend’s name in the return address slot. Social Media is a spectator sport much more often than it is an active, caring, concerned, involved, relational interaction. There are exceptions, of course, but the overall effect, I’m afraid, is often feigned connection and increased disconnection –or in its extremity, narcissism and/or isolation.
The struggle with comparison may not be as pronounced in others, but because it is for me, personally, a real obstacle, I want to make a change.
I want to take a journey. I want to let go, close my eyes for a while and just listen…
I want to enter my story.
Not just watch it pass by in photographs and status reports. I want to engage. I want to accept. I want to make peace with this new chapter. I want to believe again that God is writing something here, now, in me.
So this is what I am going to do about it:
I am going to embark on a year-long project. The goal: to live partially unplugged. For my year as a 33 year old I am going to leave social media. I will still have my phone (which is not a smart phone), email, and my blog–hence the partial in my unplug description. No Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Though I may still use Google for looking up weather, directions, and the like, I am going to try to focus on asking people advice in person, reading books and magazines, listening to CD’s, and looking at photographs that people show me in person, in conversation (vs. perusing as a silent, unknown observer). I want to go to places that inspire me–like the Denver Botanical Gardens, or Denver Urban Homestead farmer’s market, City Park, Tattered Cover Bookstore, instead of looking at pictures of places on-line.
I want to look at my son for who he is–his very unique existence–and not compare him or myself as a mother to other kids and moms. I want to enjoy all the bits and pieces of hand-made love in his nursery and not care if it matches up to someone’s Pinterest perfect nursery. I want to take my time stretching into this new role, and I want to let Hosea take his time growing into this big new life. I want to take care of the body that God has given me while respecting that mine is a slow journey of healing since my c-section. I am not in a race and I want to live like I truly believe that.
I decided to keep this blog, because I feel it will give me accountability as I write periodically about how this experience is impacting me. As a writer, I have to write to process life. I realize blogging is a bit of a contradiction in my journey as it is a virtual expression, but mainly, I will be writing in my journal. I will be creating, expressing, and recording by hand first the impacts of this journey. In the next couple of weeks I will be “packing up my virtual bags” if you will. I will be closing loose ends, getting contact information, fulfilling a couple of commitments, and emotionally preparing to begin, as of August 1st, what I will be calling…