I quit Instagram. Big whoop!
For the past three months or so, I unintentionally tripped and pulled the plug on my online presence, went completely AWOL, on Instagram in particular which was (and still is) my main creative playground.
I think we can all agree my statement bears little to no shock value whatsoever. Generally speaking, a social media abstinence is not in the least bit concerning, and the last thing you could call it is harmful. Quite the opposite.
If embodied, I would imagine it as a swanky golden medal, hanging from our necks, dangling from side to side paired with a braggy, yet seemingly modest, smirk.
As it turns out, my intermission would prove to be less of a cause for pride, and more for concern. Aside from an unexpected physical health turmoil, it also brought forth something much bigger, far more dangerous – my [somewhat] silent anxiety festering inside eager to resurface.
Having been diagnosed with anxiety about two years ago, I’ve been in this fight for a while now, I thought I knew how to handle it. I’d usually silence it by working out, eating right, caring for myself, getting as creative as possible and avoid any sort of routine. This time though, it felt different. I was weak, it was powerful. I was numb, it was very much alive
Now, I admit, these sentences may come off as overly dramatic considering I’ve only mentioned Instagram so far (how very millenial of me). But bear with me, as I’ve many stifling, dusty layers left to unveil (why yes, I do imagine myself in a cabin by the lake, dramatically pulling white sheets from old furniture, all the while dancing in slow-mo to a very melancholic soundtrack. Heck, I even have an outfit picked out, but I’m gonna spare you the details).
To share or not to share?
I would have never described myself as an over-thinker or thorough planner. In spite of not being the most self-confident person, I’d found spontaneity oftentimes to be quite an ally – be that in school, life, decision making, relationships, etc.
Relying on my instincts and trusting my gut would feel empowering, exciting even. But I wouldn’t say I’d done it for the thrill of it, but rather because I’d always possessed a valid confidence in my emotional intelligence.
But something happened over the course of these last couple of years, a silent shift that I’ve yet to identify both in terms of time as well as cause. I’ve become an unforgiving over-thinker, a doubter and a ruthless inquisitor of my every move or thought. I was unable to foresee the havoc it would wreak on a personal level, but all the more so on my work, my career path.
In fact, this blog is the perfect representation of the consequential marks gradually left on me; I’ve talked about doing it for months (which turned into literal years), went as far as quitting my job to fully dedicate myself to it, only to waste even more time on planning instead of doing, and leave it hanging after finally publishing just one post.
Heck, this article itself is yet another by-product of far too many overthinking sessions on whether my experience is worth sharing or not. This time though, I figured there’s far more good in me doing it, as opposed to simply not.
Influenced by a rather rational tendency to compare myself with others, it took me quite a while to understand that even though my narrative might not fit into a typical mold, that doesn’t make it any less valid. In other words, just because I struggle in areas where some may have it easy, that doesn’t/shouldn’t define me in my entirety.
So, I guess, this is me not giving under the chronic pressure of second-guessing myself for a change. From the sidelines, this may seem like nothing, but in my own personal grand scheme of things, it is absolutely HUGE (think Donald Trump’s ego HUGE).
Allowing myself to be this vulnerable is a pivotal point for building a sort of passage towards not only discovering but also calibrating my deepest fears with my long overdue plans and aspirations.
I’ve spent far too much time scribbling mental notes about how certain situations or people make me feel, and I’d sometimes garner enough courage to write it all down, thus facing my deepest thoughts, emotions and fears.
In return, I’d be rewarded with some sort of temporal jolt of catharsis, sometimes joyful, other times more painful than I could’ve initially imagined.
The writer’s high I was experiencing would not necessarily mean that what I was writing was actually good, but that whatever emotion my words were administering, it always proved beneficial in gaining more clarity and control over certain situations.
Still, I could very well keep it to myself. But, as corny as it may sound, the thought of someone out there going through the same puzzling motions and reading about my experience only to uncover at least an ounce of comfort, means the absolute world to me.
Look, I’ll be totally honest with you – my mind’s still all over the place, I’m ‘Sandra Bullock in Bird Box blindfolded, tumbling down in a ditch’ type of lost. But aside from taking actual medical steps towards healing (more on that, later), writing about my personal experience is quite therapeutic.
On that note, you could also argue me doing this comes from a place of selfishness, self-indulgence or even a need for affirmation. I honestly can’t fully disagree with you on that.
Much like the rest of society battling anxiety, I too take great solace in knowing I’m not alone, and I’m consumed by a need to be heard and, more so, understood.
What’s in it for you?
Solace, perhaps. Comfort. Answers, hopefully. A hint of understanding. Laughter intertwined with tears. A pun, here and there.
Initially, I set out to write just one one big explanation for my online absence, an apology for going completely silent (I felt, and still feel, totally guilty for not offering one earlier). But the more I opened up, the wider the subject got, the broader the theme. So, if this post seems a bit all over the place and left you a wee bit confused, don’t worry, it’ll all make sense.
I’ve realized there’s so much more left to cover, it’s practically impossible to encapsulate it all at once. The plan is to delve deeper and turn this into a series of articles detailing my everyday experience with anxiety, fear, procrastination, self-esteem and all the other forking good stuff.
Through the good or the bad times, I’ve always sought shelter under the words and music of others. While I consider neither to be durable solutions for any of my ongoing issues, I do use them as temporary soothing band-aids.
Whether you’ve been at this for a while, or are just embarking on what may seem like a solitary journey, I can only hope my thoughts will serve you as meaningful support and dependable companion.
In all honesty, my pessimistic side is tossing and turning right now, trying its best to convince me there’s no way any of this will prove to be beneficial to anyone. But I’m gonna choose to tune it out and focus on what COULD actually happen.
Every story unfolds uniquely in time, relying on countless factors that I may or may not consider, not because I don’t want to, but because I may be completely unaware of.
Mental health is complex, and it sadly does not affix to a “one size fits all” solution. We all come bearing distinctive baggages, our backgrounds are plastered with different truths, insights, speculations, traumas, apprehensions, questions, or answers.
So, please, whenever you feel I’d missed a mark on an issue, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through email or Instagram. I love interacting and learning to view things from a new perspective. It’s quite refreshing to either witness or live a good “AHA!” moment. My aim is to provide as many of these as possible.
In addition to using my experience as a reference, I’ll also share advice I’ve learned from various authors I’ve read or I’ll be reading, so keep an eye out for book recommendations as well.
Setting out on this journey of hopefulness and self-discovery with you is equal parts scary, intimidating and exhilarating.
But scary is good, right? Handled properly, scary means challenging, and challenging opportunities build up to change.
And, while we all try to shy away from change, it is inevitable and always possible. Quite literally nothing stays the same and, as human beings, learning and progress are innate to us.
Happy to have you here,