and what did i find? a reflection on 30 days without instagram

I left to find peace. I left to find quiet. I left to stop comparing, to stop obsessing, to stop wishing, and to just be.

And what did I find?

Well, I’ll admit the first couple days were hard. I’d be sitting on the couch, watching a movie, and find some insatiable “need” to be doing just one more thing. I’d pick up my phone, checking for notifications… only to find nothing particularly interesting. And then my finger would instinctively swipe over to where my Instagram app sat in a newly-labeled “Do Not Touch” folder, and I’d set my phone back down in defeat.

But as the week went on, I found it easier to say “No.” Sure, I still felt the temptation to scroll through other peoples’ photos. Yes, there were times when I wanted to share something. But really, I was getting by just fine.

I decided that December 1st would be the perfect day to get back in the groove. A week and a half was a decent reset period, and by then I’d surely have earned the right to do a little mindless scrolling…

But that Sunday rolled around and I was surprised to find that I didn’t care. I realized I’d felt strong after my days of not succumbing to the momentary allure of the tiny screen in my hand, and even though I’d created this deadline, it felt like a personal failure to “give in” so easily.

So I stayed off. For 30 days.

I can’t say that stepping away from social media completely eliminated any of the feelings I’d hoped to escape – I still had wants, I still compared myself to those around me, and I still found myself overthinking tiny insignificant details on the daily.

But I like to think that not jumping on Facebook kept me present – and it continues to keep me moving forward. It’s kept me searching for other ways to spend my time and often left me as one of the only people in the room not staring at their phone when things get quiet.

The thing is, when not looking at social media didn’t provide the magnificent results I’d been hoping for, I started working harder to create those results in other ways: I meditated, I wrote morning pages, and I spent my quiet time off this blog working on ways to make it better. I thought deeply about my intentions, almost obsessively. I spent time reading, crafting, doing anything that made me feel new & improved in this time away from the screen. I realized that if social media wasn’t the root cause of my insecurities, then something else was, and I might still need to deal with that. But in the meantime, at least I wasn’t being distracted by the photographic evidence that I wasn’t out on the town or sharing the perfect photo to document my holiday happenings. I wasn’t even aware of it. And I didn’t really miss it, either.

Which made me realize how much time I’d been wasting on something that wasn’t really doing much good for me at all.

You see, I’m truly beginning to understand the beauty of silence – even if it’s still difficult to sit in it for too long. I feel like I’m finally looking at the world through my own eyes – a part of me wanting to capture a snapshot on my phone to share later, and an even bigger part of me perfectly content just relishing in that moment for myself.

Because the only thing that’s constant – the only thing that mattered yesterday, today, and for the rest of our lives – is us. Our real lives, our relationships, our passions, our talents, and our dreams.

The rest is just unnecessary fluff.

And once we get used to believing that, I think we’ll begin to see ourselves accomplishing so much more: things that truly matter – things that resonate with our souls and build genuine connections, even if we do have to share them on Instagram to get the message across.