A few days ago, I celebrated the ninth anniversary of this blog. Maybe a little ironically, I was taking a week off from blogging while the day came and went. Now that it’s my full-time job, I post every single day, except for one week around Christmas. I look forward to that week starting in August when things really start picking up around here. The irony is that I started my blog because I needed a break from school and crew practice– it was my outlet.
This has definitely been an interesting year for the blog. From a positive standpoint, I have a new manager (who is, hands down, THE BEST), hired my first full-time employee, even rebranded to drop the “college” from my blog’s name, and recently surpassed the nine millionth unique visitor (!!). These have all been giant milestones for me professionally. It actually blows my mind that I can boil down all of the work and stress and fear that goes into making those moves into one sentence.
When I think about the day I sat down to start my blog, I’m glad I didn’t know what would be coming down the line. Over nine years, my blog has pretty much been only on an upward trend, but with that comes some challenges that I could never have anticipated. I didn’t know “social media” would blow up into an industry with its own legs. I didn’t know it would ultimately turn into a career. I didn’t know the opportunities that waited for me down the road.
But I also didn’t know I would be sacrificing privacy. It’s not something I think anyone can understand or fully appreciate until you don’t have it anymore. (I also just have to interject to say, I have a whole new appreciation for celebrities. I experience about a quarter of a drop in their celebrity bucket. I don’t think I could handle what they face!) Over the past year, I think it’s become a bigger struggle for me, particularly this year, and I have felt myself digging my heels into the ground to resist a bit. The opportunities have been, so far, worth the sacrifice but I wonder if down the line I might change my tune on that. While the topic is top of mind for me, I’ll continue to do what I love and try to set better boundaries for myself.
I thought this could be a good time to share some “discoveries” I’ve been thinking a LOT about this year with regards to social media. I have one foot in the creator side and one foot in the consumer side of the internet. From this unique perspective, I tend to see and feel a lot of different emotions going on. It may be because I know a lot of bloggers, too, but one thing that I’ve seen over and over again is the comparison game. I know there have been countless articles all over the internet dealing with this, but I wanted to throw my two cents in.
By now, even if we forget it from time to time, I think we all know that social media is often someone’s highlight reel. I fall victim to this myself now and then, thinking someone else’s life is perfect because of a series of photos or videos from a trip. The truth is, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. I often look at my own feed and think, yea, someone might think I have a perfect life, too. And, don’t get me wrong, I think I’m pretty damn lucky, but my life is and, more importantly, I am far from perfect.
I think it’s the meditation, but I have been trying to note the different emotions I have and when I have them, in particular trying to pinpoint what exactly is triggering them and what my day/mindset looks like when I don’t. The days when I feel myself wistfully scrolling through Instagram, seeing picture perfect lives that make me feel down about my life? I haven’t done much. Maybe it was a stressful day of work where I ate junky food and mindlessly watched too many Youtube videos to decompress. The days where my Instagram feed is a welcomed two-minute distraction and nothing more? I’ve read books, felt productive, been out with friends, worked out, hydrated well, enjoyed the outdoors, spent quality time with loved ones.
It’s not a coincidence that living a full life leaves you feeling full and satisfied. And the amazing thing is that it doesn’t cost a fortune or take too much time to get there. Living a full life isn’t about trying to collect as many stamps in a passport as you can or having the latest piece of technology or having an expensive wardrobe. Or about creating a perfect grid on Instagram.
10 minutes of meditating every morning is free. (I do pay a small yearly fee for my app, but you can 100% pull up a free guided exercise online or just sit in silence focusing on your breathing.) Making a healthy choice is often the same price as making an unhealthy one. A glass of water from the tap is free. Get a library card to discover a whole world of books available to you, for free. Go for a run outside by yourself or a walk with a friend. Instead of spending your lunch hour alone, sit with a coworker or meet up with a friend. Call your mom to chat. Reflect in a journal every night.
You know the quotation, “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”? I think it could easily be amended to, “life is what happens to you while you are busy comparing yours to someone else’s through a screen.” Don’t let that become your life or even taint your view of life. You can live a full life and it, surprisingly, doesn’t take much to get there.