14 Mar The real reason I came off social media
It is close to six months now since I withdrew from social media. It has taken me this long to process everything, to regain a sense of myself after I felt I was crippled with the torture of self doubt. During this time, I began to reflect and take time to reassess my involvement with it. One of the biggest questions that I continued to ask myself was this: ‘If I am to share ANYTHING, how can I uphold the values of integrity, transparency and vulnerability? In this world where social media is a ‘highlight reel’ how can I be truly authentic and honestly REAL? As I wasn’t sure, I simply stayed silent. Opening Instagram brought a level of anxiety that churned my stomach, caused heart palpitations and ensured my fingers shook.
Even now as I write this, the exact same feelings are arising. I can feel that queazy feeling beginning to unsettle me. Though now I feel it is time to speak. The time has come for me to share my voice as maybe in doing so, I might just give a voice to others. I honestly believe that even if you don’t think anyone will hear, speak anyway, as YOU might just be the person that someone is waiting to hear.
I know that I silenced myself completely out of fear as I was so overwhelmed with what had unfolded I didn’t even know how to cope. What might be seen as an adverse reaction from one person, is the standard for someone who associates with being a HSP.
HSP- Highly Sensitive Person
Highly sensitive people are those who are also often referred to as empaths. They literally FEEL everything. They feel what someone else maybe feeling and have a sense of ‘knowingness’ about them. They are highly attuned to and affected by the environment. This means that being overstimulated by certain factors (smells, sounds, lights, crowds, certain places etc) can lead to a frying of the central nervous system which results in a virtual crash. This is what I experienced and the only way that I could deal was to totally shut down and shut off. This I acknowledge was my coping mechanism and only way I felt I was able to deal with what was happening.
The very morning I returned from Bali after having lived there for two years, I opened the door of my friends house in my beloved home town of Port Douglas and my eyes blurred as emotion streaked my flushed cheeks. I was so overwhelmed with how quiet it was. The serenity, the peace that I had been longing for, swept me up in a moment of unexpected intimacy and held me as crumbled to the floor and wept at finally being of safe, secure and grounded. I was home and everything within me, released. I had been unknowingly holding on for so long, now I could just let go. The relief of returning to an environment my Soul knew as its resting place, rendered me awash with all I had not allowed myself to feel. Here though, I had nothing to fear and that without any effort, I knew that I would be held, nurtured and soothed by the environment and also the dear souls who inhabited it.
When I lay down in utter exhaustion after returning from this harrowing and confronting journey, that, whilst being awakening had also just about sapped the life right out of me, I began to shake. Violently. Uncontrollably. I had never experienced anything like this in my life before. It was only later that I came to find out it was trauma release. I had no idea how much I had taken on and unknowingly been ‘bracing’ for life in Bali, till I was able to trust I was in a safe space and let go.
Second example and the withdrawal from Social Media.
This intense period of reassimilating with the environment took several weeks. I was constantly tired and often felt lacking in energy. People commented on how ‘thin’ I was looking. It did not escape me that I might have a disease that was the result of all I was experiencing. A trusted friend put this fear to rest and did a blood test. She assured me I was not in fact carrying some tropical or life threatening ailment, I was most likely had adrenal fatigue. This to me, made absolute sense.
During this time there was one thing that led to the catalyst for change. It was finding out that someone who I had been seeing and had developed feelings for, yet also didn’t know where I stood with them, had begun a relationship with someone else. How did I find out? Social Media. Instagram to be precise. It was brought hurtling into my awareness (by some terrible, yet timely algorithm) through some picturesque images Bali and below, the sweet, sentimental conversation that flowed between the two of them. It broke me to find out this way. I felt humiliated, betrayed and again, of course, left with the incessant feeling of being unworthy. This feeling of not good enough threatened to destroy what little was left of me.
This is when I decided to take the radical step of removing myself from social media. I didn’t know how to be on it anymore with all my pain, insecurity and raw emotion and NOT be compelled share it, from which I might gain likes and validation for it to make my suffering more comfortable. I was at that stage committed to becoming whole and regaining myself. To doing the work without anyone seeing it, or commenting on it or liking it. I intended to be unashamably me without searching for recognition, acknowledgement or encouragement.
So I took a deep breath and went off line.
If you don’t post on social media do you still exist?
Well this I came to find was a two part answer. The response being both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Of course I still existed in the world, I came to find I was even ‘living’ in the world as the present moment became that much more beautiful and mesmerising rather than viewed behind the pretence that somehow I needed to share what I was doing/seeing/being with the world. The world became richer and brighter. At first though, this was not the case.
Just like coming out of any form of addiction, there is going to be a period that just sucks. There is nothing you can do to get around it, nothing you can do get over it, you simply have to go through it. When I came off social media I was confronted with the very real idea that my whole time in Bali had been a sham. For months I didn’t hear from anyone. Not only had I returned to a place where I no longer had a core group of friends, but I equally felt I had also lost all my so called ‘friends’ from Bali. God it was uncomfortable. Geez it was confronting. I questioned: ‘How does one connect and or feel connected when this little device that you don’t even realise you pour so much time, effort and energy into is suddenly removed?”
Conclusion: You pour it all back into yourself.
This is precisely what I did. I saw myself unhook from the things I was unconsciously chasing after. I pulled all those energy chords that I had attached to exterior things and withdrew them back into me. I figured if I spent maybe 20hours a week on social media, what would happen if I poured those 20hours now back into me…just imagine what might change. I didn’t have to make noise about what I was doing, I just had to do it. Then something truly incredible began to occur. Through recoiling from the outside world and focusing on me and BEING me, it appeared that I had created a vacuum. All that I needed was effortlessly brought to me. Friends, some of whom I hadn’t heard from in months or even years began to contact me as they had noticed my absence from being online and actually wanted to have a genuine conversation about how I was. Fancy that.
This ‘vacuum effect’ soon began to extend far beyond the realm of friends. I also had numerous opportunities and the most unfathomable synchronicities began to occur. All of this happened effortlessly. I wasn’t even having to DO anything! I simply had to BE! I was startled at what had begun manifesting. My life had taken on a magical quality that appeared at times to hardly be real. Yet real it was and I didn’t have to take to social media to post all about it. I felt that the Universe and I had this little secret that we could both delight in because we both knew that it’s mystery that makes something special.
All I had to do to find validation for all I was experiencing, was to look at my teachers. These are the people who have and continue to inspire me. More or less NONE of them are on social media. Some have Facebook or a websites but I don’t think any of them are on Instagram or Twitter. None of them are overly active on the media channels they do have. They just do the work and share with those who seek them out. This is what I wish to emulate. To allow who I am and what I do to speak louder than me trying to articulate it.
My yoga teacher from Varanasi who I loved so dearly and who passed away last year was not on social media. I recall very vividly and with the strongest sense of emotion, some wise words he shared with me:
“Alana, all of my students have been with me before. I have not had to go out searching for them. All I have had to do is stay here in my home in Varanasi and every single one of them has returned to me….
His words, though moving at the time mean even more when recalled now. I understand the seed of knowledge he buried deep within me, to simply be myself and all will be drawn to you…
From all of this has arisen from my depths a mantra. A new philosophy and ideal that I live my life by. Though my voice still shakes and I often find it hard to put myself out there for fear of being ridiculed, taken advantage of or silenced, I intend to do it anyway. I have to do this, in part to save my life. As keeping all of that which has been supressed within, has wrecked havoc and threatened to destabilise me further. Though a time out has been necessary, now is time for me to speak and share with who ever may wish to listen.
Whilst not seeking to gain anything apart from being able to express myself fully and clearly, I now know that I can approach social media from a place of authenticity, transparency and integrity. I simply hold in mind this mantra:
Magnetise over advertise.
-To pour all of the energy that I had once invested in the outer and return it to my inner, creating a vacuum and witnessing not only perception, but my reality begin to change.