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 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.

Documenting things throughout my day and sharing has become a huge part of my work. While I’ve always remained fairly 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 be thrown into a dark hole. 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.

I need more presence and more time away from the endless cycle of media in order 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 in between us, to read a book in bed and not mindlessly scroll through the Internet. I want to truly 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 a great 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 have been 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 for the rest to be 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.

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