Yup, I haven’t been blogging much lately and it’s all because I’ve discovered what going offline and disconnecting can do to you. I’m on a Facebook purge at the moment, but of course not ignoring nor neglecting the blog’s social media accounts. I’ve been trying super hard to get my real life back in order and focusing on what really matters to me.
If a tree falls in a forest and nobody was there to see it, did it really fall? If nobody sees it on Instagram, did it really happen?
Yes. To me it has. Just because no one knows about it doesn’t mean it’s not real.
That’s exactly what I’ve convinced myself to finally believe. If something significant happens in your life which you’d love to share, the right people will come to know about it. And once that happens, then what else can matter?
We celebrated the boyfriend’s birthday a few days ago, and I took the opportunity to really put some effort into it instead of just preparing a gift beforehand and having us head out to dinner. The experience taught me how much I’d been missing out on life because I had been so focused and driven on internet and social media success that I’d almost completely abandoned my real life success.
To complete the entire birthday celebration, I added in some balloons, a salted caramel frosted cake, an autographed notebook by French and English Rugby 7s players and a policier from a French author. We also had a nice dinner on the day itself at Les Bouchons, a classic no-frills French restaurant where they serve really good steak frites with generous servings. Oh and his main gift? A nice shirt from Eden Park Paris (visit the store at Takashimaya, Singapore, Men’s Department at Level 3, and don’t blame me if you fall in love with their blazers).
The look on his face that night was priceless (the surprise was a success), and I know I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. And if you are also looking to de-clutter your life from all the online noise, here are some tips I recommend.
1. Take note of how social media affects your mood.
I began this journey because I started to realise that social media wasn’t making me very happy. So many people were posting way too much negative news, that it started to make me feel like there wasn’t anything in life to be happy about.
Never mind that I’m living in a nice apartment with the love of my life; never mind that there’s Michelin star-worthy wanton mee just below my apartment block; never mind that I am not working in a job that I see no future in; never mind that I’m healthy, getting enough sleep and eating well; never mind that I have friends that ask me out and a family that loves me; never mind that I’m starting my own business. Even if there were non-negative posts, that’s all they are – nothing to be truly happy or excited about. The world seemed bleak and it was starting to make me depressed.
My point is, that if you feel the same way, then you know it’s time to quit. If social media doesn’t light you up inside but instead dampens your mood, you need to stay away from it.
2. Realise that there is more to life outside of social media.
Life happens when it happens even if the whole world doesn’t know about yours. There are so many social media or internet successes around us, but if you just get out there a little more, you’ll start to realise that there are many more successes in life that don’t happen online.
3. Get out of your comfort zone.
Get out there. Know more people. Put yourself out of your comfort zone on purpose and in doing so, introduce yourself to brand new situations.
I recently attended a French Friday event at Alliance Française all on my own (mainly because I couldn’t find anyone to go with and it was too sad to stay home alone on a Friday night with nothing to do). I was apprehensive at first because I hadn’t known anyone who would be attending and I only had a vague idea of what the event was like. Also, I hadn’t registered for it. But the night turned out to be nothing short of awesome. I made many new friends and ended up at a bar with these wonderful, open people, sharing our worst travel experiences and talking about our lives over pizza. And it was these people that made me realise that there is so much more to life than what we see online.
For the record, I did not share that on social media.
4.Do things to reconnect you with who you are.
What do you like or used to like? Start there.
If you’re into nature, go kayaking in the swamps, trek up a mountain, explore the woods, depot your plant into a bigger home. If you’re into sports, join a weekly sports club and show up. If you’re into music, watch a musical, catch a school band performance, or take up a new instrument. Get coffee with friends, both old and new. There are TONS of things you can do that do not involve social media or the internet. Do them.
This is also a perfect chance to reconnect with your loved ones and friends that you would like to get together with.
5. Wean yourself off slowly.
I have to say this. Quitting something that you’re so used to doing (I might even say addicted to) is not easy. And if you can’t just go cold turkey in one day, do it gradually. Start by not posting so often yourself and not clicking to read articles that talk about depressing issues like murder, suicide, fights, politics, racism, discrimination, feminism and the likes.
Yes, these are important issues facing the world today. And yes, you can and you have the right to do with less news and opinion pieces. It is your life after all, so why should you read about these things all the time and end up being sad anyway? You can always read them in your own time, at your own pace, when it’s convenient for you. It’s more effective to be the change yourself and better your immediate environment for the benefit of those around you.
6. Re-asses your life.
Ask yourself what you want your life to be like in the next few years. Once you get that sorted out, start doing things that will help you get there. Start building connections with people, stop judging everyone you meet, find out how you can help others (and then, obviously, help them), widen your professional and personal network outside of social media or even volunteer at a local organisation.
Replace the time you spend on social media with other, more meaningful and value-adding activities.
7. Be kind to yourself.
If you find yourself feeling inadequate because other people are somehow always posting about their glam travel stories, the awesome, “extremely exclusive” events they were invited to, or even just seeing how many likes and comments their posts get, just look away. It’s normal that we instinctively compare ourselves to others, but you need to remember that nobody posts about their crappy, mundane life stories – because nobody wants to know about them.
Your life can be as fulfilling as you want it to be and it can only begin when you stop comparing your life to others’. Instead, think about how you can make it better than it was yesterday.
In any case, I’m definitely happier now that I’ve shifted my focus to the people who are truly in my life (myself included). And I wish the same for you. These tips have helped me gain more control over my life, so I’m sure they will do the same for you as well.