The Value of Unplugging

 

forest wifi

When I was in Nicaragua, I found myself away from social media quite a bit. I did the odd posting of images because so many were asking for them. But for the most part, and because wifi didn’t just grow on trees there…I stayed offline. I had no idea what kind of an impact that would have on me…until I realized how much I didn’t miss it.

I found when I returned home, I didn’t care to be online as much. In fact, I noticed I started to retreat a bit. It was nice to share about my trip…but when I realized I wasn’t always doing it for me…that was when I took a step back and reevaluated how I engage online…and in general! You can very easily get sucked into the instant gratification that is social media. That second you post and you see the ‘likes’ roll in. The comments/compliments that come along that seem to fill your empty confidence bucket. But when you take a step back from all of that you soon realize that there isn’t much value in it all. In this world of instant gratification, we seem to look to social media to help us feel whole, loved, valued…and not alone. But it can very easily become a quick fix to an even bigger issue. I soon realized that my time offline gave me the freedom to discover all of that in private and in a world beyond a computer screen.

I had never understood before how people felt the need to unplug and take a hiatus from facebook. I mean..really? You are going to leave? How will you know what I am up to? How will you know what is happening in the world? Well my ten day hiatus gave me the chance to see what they were talking about. You can find out what is happening in the world by plugging yourself into it…literally! Getting outside, traveling to another country, experiencing people I hadn’t met before…I received way more knowledge and fulfillment in those moments,  in those ten days, than I ever had on social media.

And I started to lose interest in people knowing what I was up to all of the time. I had been a very public person for so long, that taking a step back I started to see that though others may get value from it….I sometimes wasn’t. In fact, it was starting to suck some of the life from me. I felt like I had to share what I was doing because I felt it was expected. But there are moments that I felt I was giving so much more of myself but didn’t have much left to give TO myself.

I’ve been talking a lot about this with people in my life recently, but one conversation in particular was a huge eye opener to me. I had met someone for dinner a couple weeks back and his comment to me was ‘I find I know so much more about you than I do of those I even work with or some of my own friends’. Now this is someone whom I have met twice. I shrugged it off in the moment but couldn’t shake the fact that he wasn’t alone. I had heard this before. And though I am glad to be able to share my story with others, there is a part of me that truly misses the time where no one knew my name. Because all of sudden that is all you become: the story, the things people have heard, the label, a brand. And when new people come into your life that is all they see at first. It’s a struggle because you are so much more than that. You are more than the posts people see on facebook, you are more than the story behind a successful campaign, you are more than that and all you wish is for people to see that.

So I’m spending more time (when not at work) away from the screens and plugging more in with my closest friends who know me inside and out and beyond the story and images. I’m taking more time to find out who I am beyond the story I share. I’m finding the time to appreciate life in its private moments. I have found value in sharing some parts of my life..like this post…through social media or speaking engagements because it gets others thinking about their lives and how much they should value it…just as it does for me. I also realize that I have the control in what I share and so I choose to do so more wisely…instead of leaving everything out there for the world to see, I choose to show small glimpses of it where I get value in sharing as well. Learning to give without it being an expense to your well being is a lesson worth learning!

I’m realizing not all that happens in life needs to be shared and that sometimes it holds more meaning and value when we can cherish and hold onto it just for ourselves.

seat at table