Practicing Presence

November 5, 2019

I’ve been quiet lately. I often go through these phases where I feel a deep need for change and introspection. This has been especially true in the last two years with the Internet becoming extremely busy and noisy. The biggest culprit being Instagram.

Maybe it’s that I remember a world without hyperconnectivity. Where I didn’t have to see what everyone else was doing, where I didn’t have a phone to connect me to everything I wanted immediately, where I wasn’t drawn continuously to document everything. I don’t necessarily want to go back to that, but I do want to gain more time. Time is my biggest currency.

Documenting things throughout my day and sharing has become a massive part of my work. While I’ve always remained relatively private, I still share much of my day, life, and interests. My phone has become like a third limb. I work from home, and I have a completely remote team, so being connected to my phone is inevitable, but it’s a slippery slope. I pick it up to message a coworker or respond to an email, and then I’m endlessly scrolling Instagram, and I forget why I grabbed it in the first place.

Maybe it’s that I remember a world without hyperconnectivity. Where I didn’t have to see what everyone else was doing, where I didn’t have a phone to connect me to everything I wanted immediately, where I wasn’t constantly drawn to document everything. I don’t necessarily want to go back to that, but I do want to gain more time. Time is my biggest currency.

Boundaries have given structure to my day and have helped me tune out distractions. Sure, sometimes I break them (I’m human), but as long as I’m actively working on them, I feel better. Except, do I feel better? It’s a tricky feeling to navigate. It feels like being more quiet on social media means I’ll disappear. That all the love I pour into my work will fall into a dark abyss. The endless cycle of posting, liking, and creating will go on as if I never existed. That sounds melodramatic, but it’s a fear I’m not alone in feeling.

I need more presence and more time away from the endless cycle of media to create fulfilling work—not just for a few hours, but for days, weeks, or even months at a time. I want to know what it feels like to take a walk without my phone, to sit with my kids without a screen, to read a book in bed, and not mindlessly scroll the Internet. I want to live my life and not live it through tiny square boxes.

This isn’t to say I’m leaving Instagram—far from it. I still enjoy it. It’s an excellent app for so many things, but I don’t want to be active just for the sake of being active. I don’t want to post at certain times of the day; I don’t want to post every single day to stay relevant. I don’t want to get super personal on there because that’s what we’re told connects us and gets us more followers and likes. If I want to share personal things, I will when it feels right. For me, Instagram is a place I go to for inspiration, and I prefer to post things I find cool and beautiful. I like the rest of my life tucked behind the screen—it feels cozier to me.

For the past two months, I’ve been posting once or twice a week on my personal Instagram—something I’ve never done since signing up for the app. That may still seem like a lot, but for someone who used to post every day, it’s been a game-changer. I do feel a dip in my engagement, but why am I sacrificing real-life engagement for engagement on an app? And since I’m not documenting and sharing as much, I have less to share in the future, which has made it hard to jump back into the groove. I’m working on finding a balance that feels right and still allows me to do this work that I love. Maybe this new recipe won’t work, but it’s one I’m desperately craving.

You may also like: Doing The Opposite of Going Viral and Why It Feels So Right. 

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