In an effort to simplify my life and reduce stress, I’ve started examining everything around me. Objects I have laying around the house, our schedules, things that I do out of habit, shows I watch, foods I eat, etc… Everything in our lives affect us in some way and it’s important to know how they affect us.
I read a book a couple of years ago that was basically how to de-clutter your home and how de-cluttering your home can lead you to have less stress and realize the important things in your life. The basic principle was that if you look in your closet, on your bookshelf, on your mantle, on your coffee table, or in your kitchen, there is probably AT LEAST one item that you look at that doesn’t bring you joy. The purpose of this mindset was for you to get rid of everything in your life that didn’t bring you joy. I rolled my eyes a lot at this book because like… we have(had) a ton of stuff in our house that is just stuff, but sometimes that stuff is necessary. However, the more I slowed down and tried to apply this principle to the things in our house, the more it made sense. Someone, please, tell me why am I keeping a little chachki on my bookshelf that I don’t even remember where I got it or who gave it to me? Do I really need 2 copies of the same book? Do I really need 3 pairs of jeans in my closet that fit, but I don’t love the way that they fit? Do I need that one pair of shoes that I wear once a year? Why am I keeping this shirt in my closet when I really only save it for when everything else is dirty? You can clearly see that I had a problem with hoarding clothes.
When we moved from North Carolina to Texas, I went through our whole house and picked up every single thing (no joke) and said “do I love this? Does it make me happy? Does it bring me joy?” And if the answer was “no” or even an “eeehhh” then it went in the donate/trash pile. Not only did it make our move so much easier, but it made my chest feel lighter. I was ridding myself of unnecessary things and somehow that lifted the stress right off of my heart. Do we still have little doodads and chachki’s sitting on our bookshelf or mantle? Yes, but they are all things that mean something. The little mariachi band that was left on our pillows in the hotel on our honeymoon in Cancun, a small collection of willow tree angels that have been given to me at important points in my life, a picture frame that holds a picture of Selah’s hand laying on my chest that someone took during church one day and thought that I would love it, and I do. Each of those things may be considered clutter, but I love them.
Lately, I’ve begun to feel that stress again. It’s a constant weight that sits on my chest and I sort of feel like I can’t get a good breath in. I usually only feel like this during Christmas season and my students’ concert is coming up and I’m panicking about everything. It’s the worst. I can literally feel myself getting older. Anyways… I’ve figured out what the stressor is.
One major stressor for me in the past couple of years has been social media. Now, not all social media applies. I like instagram because basically, I post a picture and boom. It’s done. I like Snapchat for the same reason. I’m doing it for me, not for anyone else. I post something, it’s there. I can save it for later. I rarely use these two platforms as a way to communicate with others or to boost my self-esteem (which btw, I’m gonna talk about in a minute…). I’m simply using them as a way to curate important things or beautiful moments that I have in my life that I want to remember. I don’t print out pictures and make scrapbooks or keep a photo album lying around the house, so this is it for me.
However, Twitter & Facebook are a different monster all together. I have two twitters, not many people know that. I have one for work and I have a personal twitter. My work twitter, I love. It is professional, it is positive. I don’t follow celebrities or anything like that. It’s simply a sounding board for teaching and I use it in the classroom occasionally. My personal twitter is private, doesn’t have my face in the profile photo and I rarely tweet. I usually just retweet something that I like or catch up on the news or trending topics of the day. My Facebook, I post occasionally, but I honestly do it more out of a feeling of responsibility. I feel like there are people that are on facebook that want to stay in contact or that I want to stay in contact with that don’t have Snapchat or instagram and I feel like if I’m not on facebook, then I’ll lose touch. So… I keep up with facebook for those people.
Let me break a few things down:
1. A quick note on instagram. My personality has some quirks about “completing” things. Instagram has recently done an update that lets you know when you’ve scrolled to the bottom of your instagram feed and you’ve seen everything else. At the beginning I was thinking this would be great. Then, maybe I wouldn’t scroll unnecessarily searching for posts I had not seen. Unfortunately, for me, it has become another checklist at the end of the day. Scroll all the way, make sure I’ve seen every picture and liked every picture. I get my little green check mark and I feel like I’m accomplished. I’ve kept up with everyone. In the process, I have also compared myself with everyone, wanting every item that has popped up in an ad personalized for me (hello hair mask!) and rolled my eyes at instagram posts that I feel like are cliche’. That’s no good, y’all. Not good for my heart. So, while I am not getting rid of my instagram, I am unfollowing a lot of accounts. Keeping friends, deleting most everything else, and blocking every ad I possibly can. I can teach myself how to use Instagram responsibly and I believe it is worth it, for me.
2. I’m using Twitter for selfish reasons. Am I not? I don’t post photos. I rarely tweet. When I do tweet or retweet… am I not just trying to get my opinion or my voice heard? And to whom? And why do I care if they hear my voice? I’m not famous. I’m not well-followed. I have no platform. So… what is my purpose on twitter? Mostly, I catch myself retweeting things that I feel like are important. Social justice causes, important news articles, etc… but once again… I can do that in real life. Some days, I’ll come home from work and sit on Twitter for way too long reading arguments and despair about the world and how crappy things can be. That’s no good, y’all. It’s not good for my heart, not to mention how it changes my opinions of people.
3. Facebook is constantly disappointing. I open it to scroll down the endless feed and the farther I scroll the heavier my chest feels. Truly. Just today, I spent about 10 minutes on Facebook and thought I was going to explode. (When will I learn to just not read the comments?? When??) Facebook used to be a thing for college students to connect on campus, post pictures, update the world with their feelings, etc… pretty silly, meaningless, but fun stuff. Now, it’s news article, after “post this if you support/love…”, after argument, after complaint, after judging each other on our vacation photos, etc… etc… etc… This list goes on. I don’t even like Facebook. I haven’t for years, but I stayed on because my brain said… “what if you delete your facebook? You won’t ever be able to talk to that person because you won’t know how to contact (fill in the blank with any person). But here’s the catch… I DON’T TALK TO THOSE PEOPLE ANYWAYS?!?! There are people from high school, college, friends of friends, etc… that are “friends” on facebook and we never talk. We don’t comment on pictures, we don’t like status updates. Nothing! And it’s not personal, it’s just … that’s what’s expected of you. You see someone who has befriended you. You recognize their name and say “oh yeah! I went to 8th grade with that person!” You feel like if you don’t befriend them then they will be personally offended, so you accept the request. Then, all of a sudden, I’m posting and editing and trying to put up something that I think someone (who I haven’t seen in years or never talk to in real life anyways) will like. Like, I said it above… I am only posting because I feel like someone expects me to. What am I doing?? I, for one, refuse to do that from now on. It’s. no. Good. Y’all.
Y’all, I’ve got email. I’ve got a phone. I’ve got a physical address. I’ve got a blog. I also have Snapchat and instagram. This did not just become a plug for you to follow me on Snapchat & instagram, although you’re free to do so 🙂 Maybe closing down some of these outlets will force me to contact the people I actually want to keep up with. Maybe, if will force some people who actually want to check in on me, to do just that. Physically, verbally, check in on me. Not just virtual contact, which most of us don’t see anyways. If you care about someone, reach out to them. Don’t like a post on facebook assuming that they are going to see it and interpret that as you caring. It doesn’t interpret that way. Try harder. I’ll be keeping my facebook for the next couple of weeks just to make sure that those of you who want an email, phone number, Snapchat/instagram handle can get that from me. This is also going to give me a chance to double check and make sure I’ve saved some priceless photos from college that I was too dumb to save on a hard drive somewhere. I will post updates on this blog occasionally and it will post on instagram when I’ve done that OR you can subscribe to the blog and it will send you an email alert when that happens. I’d be happy to have you here 🙂
I’m just done with unnecessary things in my life. I’m quitting anything that comes in between me and the actual priorities in my life. I will not clog my house. I will not clog my mind. I will not clog my day. I will not clog my heart with things, ideas, emotions, or expectations that keep me from being the best wife, mother, sister, friend, human being I can be. It feels so good, y’all. I’ve got to take care of my heart and I hope you are doing the same with yours.