Welcome to Month of Me, where every day in January, we'll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article featuring a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including what it's like to quit alcohol for 80 days, try Beyoncé's very strict diet, or completely overhaul your closet.
It's rare to find someone who isn't on social media in 2020. In a world full of influencers and seeing people's "perfect lives" online, social media can either be a high or a low for some.
The great thing about social networks such as Twitter and Instagram is that they give us all a voice. Sometimes, though, you just need to drown out all of the voices except one: your own.
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A lot of people have made successful careers on social media, some have met the love of their life, and some people fall in love and lust with the instant gratification that social networks give you. I happen to be none of those people. In fact, social media sometimes makes me depressed, and I'm the type of person who loves to be joyful, and I hate feeling down.
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For once, I felt content with not knowing what my digital friends were doing. Social media will have you going nuts trying to know what someone else is thinking by constantly stalking someone's Twitter. Sometimes, it is a truly unhealthy habit, especially when you're trying to move forward. With my hiatus, I didn't worry if my friends threw a massive party without me; if one of my exes moved on; and I wasn't worried about stupid likes, either. This gave me newfound peace that I hadn't had in a while.
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I had so much more time to focus on other things that I was passionate about—such as writing. I wrote more than I have all year. I didn't even realize how long it's been since I wrote an article. Every day, I wrote my thoughts, my feelings, and most importantly a list of things I'm grateful for. The more I began to write, the more in-tune I was with myself. I realized that as I was checking up on other people's lives, I was forgetting the purpose of my own.
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I know the word "self-care" is thrown around so carelessly these days, but I believe self-care really goes a long way in regard to your mental health. Spending hours looking at a screen all day at work and at home can make your mind feel cluttered. With my newfound free time, I decided to do some DIY face masks, redecorate my room, and I even found time to go to the thrift store more. I also made it a habit to go to the gym five days a week and prep all of my meals. (Who am I?) The new me is active!
I am notorious for being a procrastinator. It's just how the good Lord made me. I typically put everything off until the last minute if I can. During my detox, though, I came into work an hour early. I actually got up by my first alarm clock. (She's punctual now!) I even bought a calendar. I was a new woman, y'all.
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This might sound like a weird one, but hear me out. When I was on social media 24/7, my self-esteem dropped. I was comparing myself like crazy, seeing couples, and thinking I'll be alone forever. (I'm dramatic, I know.) I would constantly compare my body and my life to others'. I was feeling insecure. By not investing my free time on social media, I realized that I am fine just the way I am and that being real and living in the moment is the real beauty goal.
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The saying is true: What I don't know or can't see can't hurt me. I used to feel so down when I would see other people doing fun and exciting things, and it made me want to go out and spend endless amounts of money so that I could be just like them. With the social media detox, I was able to live in the moment and not snap or record videos of every little thing that I was doing.
Social media has a weird way of making me think everyone is doing better than me or that they look better than me. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but comparison is for sure the thief of joy. Instagram made me feel so indifferent and more inadequate than I typically would in real life. Social media has re-created that exhausting feeling of not fitting in in high school and brought it into adulthood. Being off the radar, I certainly don't have much to compare myself to, and I don't need to critically examine every picture before posting just to make sure it's cool enough or Instagram-worthy.
Many people may wonder what a 24-year-old millennial does in their free time when they’re not scrolling IG or Twitter. I found joy in being off of social media. I was less anxious, happier, and I realized everything I need is separated from the instant gratification of a "like" or keeping up with people I'll never meet. I fell in love with nature, went on hikes, walked around my neighborhood, called people I love, and took tons of selfies that I'll likely never post.
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I would be lying if I said that the opinions of others don't affect me. It's easy to feel like you're losing when you get a glimpse of someone else's life via Instagram. I always pick apart each thing that I post, looking at all aspects and all my flaws, while second-guessing every tweet, post, or what someone's perception might be of my online presence. When I deleted all of my apps, I felt so free—free of judgment, free of not feeling good enough, and free of not trying to constantly feel like I have to impress an imaginary audience. Most importantly, I felt free of needing to be on my phone the majority of the day.
We live in a world where if something isn't filmed or documented, it's deemed as never having happened, and it's truly a shame. Before my detox, I found myself getting caught up in the hype of recording my entire night out just to prove to my followers that I had a life. During my hiatus, I went out a lot, and I was able to really enjoy the moment, whether it was at a concert or night out the bar, and I didn't record any of it. It felt better than I expected!