I deleted all of my social media and started meditating everyday for a year
…..pretty much everything changed
For years I struggled with having an online presence. It felt inauthentic. I portrayed only the happy side of myself. And it felt like I was in a happiness competition with others. My worth was measured by how many likes I got on a post or a photo. I spent an unhealthy amount of time stalking other profiles and comparing myself. First I deleted my Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter accounts and finally my Facebook.
Did I even exist without a Facebook? I suffered withdrawals. I liked being ‘liked’ and wasn’t getting my daily dose of validation anymore. Part of of me died. But it was never me to begin with. It was my representative. A version of myself that was only real on the internet. She no longer exists.
Without having a way of defining myself online, I felt lost for a while. If I’m not my profile picture, then what am I? If I am an ever-changing being, then what is unchanging about me? Having an online persona gave me a sense of security, a solid sense of self. I could point to pictures and posts and say “I am this and I am that and I did this last week with these people—here’s the proof.” I had a concrete timeline of my life. What did my moments mean if I could no longer capture them?
Our age is a great paradox. We all want attention and connection. And yet, when we are connected on so many platforms, that attention becomes divided, and we aren’t able to fully connect because we are in so many places at once. For the first time, I did not feel divided. The only self I was concerned about was my real self. The one who is happy but the one who is also sad, confused, excited, anxious, depressed, grateful, relaxed, neutral. The self who experiences a spectrum of emotion on a daily basis. And I wanted to know this self more. Who am I? What am I? I had lots of questions.
My only friends became the people whose three-dimensional faces I looked at. I did not have time for 1,843 faces. I no longer spent time measuring my mundane reality up to the illusion of others’ perfect realities. I saw the truth in faces. The imperfections that come with being human. And I started attracting people who know how to have a conversation, without pausing to look down. Besides email and phone calls, my connections became face-to-face and I rarely had to compete for attention with a device. By showing up fully and being present with people, they naturally gave their full attention back.
After taking a class on the psychology of consciousness in the Fall of 2015, I was inspired to try meditating. Could I really meditate? Could I close my eyes and find peace like those monks do? I didn’t know. But I was desperate. I wanted to know more about myself and what motivated me to do the things I did. I started meditating everyday for 40 minutes; 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening.
At the time, I was drinking heavily. At least three times a week. I was blacking out frequently and trying to find myself in drunk strangers. I had low self-esteem. I thought about killing myself often. What was the point? I didn’t have a boyfriend. I wasn’t skinny. My friends were prettier than me. The world’s all fucked up. Global warming and Trump and Syria and shit. What was this all about? Do I just go to college, get a job, get married, have kids and that’s it? Is there anything else? I didn’t like being in my mind. I didn’t like being with my thoughts. They scared me. I felt as hollow as the glass bottles I was drinking to stay away from them.
I know why people kill themselves. I’ve been there. It’s a dark place and it’s real. I have deep compassion for anyone who is there right now. Please know it gets better and there is help on its way. The first step is having the courage to ask.
Let me be clear: meditating did not solve my problems. Instead, it helped me to see more clearly what my problems were. It helped me to live right here, in this moment. And when I started to live more in the moment, it became harder to justify taking a third tequila shot. I began to see that life is simply a string of nows. I stopped living in an idealized fantasy future where it would all work out one day. I realized that it is already working out, and it has been working out. And I had been missing the point. Life is today. It is this very moment. It’s not the dream job. It’s not the fantasized future. It’s not the perfect partner.
I stopped pointing my arrow towards things outside myself. I starting drawing my attention inward. I started worshipping myself and my own needs. I paid attention to my patterns. And they began to unravel. When I started this journey, I lived in a house with 6 girls and enjoyed partying with them. But the desire to party faded as I became present with my hangovers and the way I abused my body. I learned how to say “No” and spent a lot of time alone.
This was my unbecoming.
I realized I needed space and time to process all the changes that were happening. I didn’t wanted to jump into working full-time after graduation.
As a child, I had a passion for being out in the forest—building magical forts out of logs, climbing trees, finding little creatures and bringing them into the house. I felt at home in nature. I wanted to rekindle that passion. After graduating, I drove 1,000 miles south and spent my summer in Asheville, North Carolina working on farms. I chose Asheville because my family was having a reunion there that I wanted to go to.
No one knew my name when I arrived. I fell in love with the place because it allowed me to intentionally create myself without having the baggage of who I had been. I decided to officially move in November, and now I am going to school for massage therapy.
Last year around this time, I can remember waking up in a person’s bed who I didn’t know. I was furious with myself. I felt like old crusty dog shit on a burnt, dry lawn. To make matters worse, when we walked out to his car in the morning, I immediately spotted a Trump sticker on his bumper. That was my last one-night stand. I had to be self-destructive over and over again until I could finally put an end to it. And meditating helped me to see myself as a being who is worthy of more than blurred, meaningless interactions with drunk horny boys.
I have come a long way in a year. I drink rarely. I go to bed early. I still spend a lot of time alone, but I am making new friends in Asheville by showing up in places outside of my comfort zone. I miss my friends and family from home. But I think they understand why I moved. I needed to begin again somewhere. And for the first time, I am living from my heart.
Everything fell apart in the most beautiful way to pave the way for where I am now. I know this isn’t the conventional path. I am able to go against the grain because I value and trust myself. I trust that writing this will inspire others. Logging off and tuning into myself was the best decision I’ve ever made. I don’t need to be ‘liked’ for who I am. I like myself in this moment and that is enough.