The compulsive border-bouncing, passport-stamp-collecting days of my 20s and 30s have been revolutionized.
The era of posting Facebook chronicles of my latest travel destination has morphed, like so many other aspects of my being, from fast and frenetic to relaxed and deliberate. It has enhanced my quality of life and overall wellness.
At 40, I’m cultivating the uninhibited art of slow travel more and more; so much so that I find spending a few months in a country is barely enough time to scratch the surface of its complexities, beauty, and lure.
There are, now, a good number of places from my previous years of adventuring that warrant a proper redo — a more intimate and respectful encounter.
Over the past two and a half years, I’ve had the freedom to explore breathtaking places across Asia and Oceania. As I explored new places, I simultaneously navigated new spaces within myself; the layers of each new locale unfolded, along with wounds deep inside that needed to be healed.
This incredible reframing of myself, and who I am in the world, took place without documenting any of my experiences on Facebook.
No increased friend count.
All of the glorious nature, wildlife, culture, and food during this transformative time were disconnected from the Facebook tumult. By today’s social consensus standards, my experiences never even happened.
I had been living outside of the United States when I originally departed from Facebook; I was met with some disappointment, confusion, and even a bit of irritation from folks.
My life had been an exotic, digital anecdote others delighted in living through vicariously. I was “living the dream” and had no qualms about letting others access my online world. But when things fell apart and I hit rock bottom, there wasn’t anything I wanted more than to be invisible and forget that I had an “audience” wondering what was next.
The end of my marriage, and the sudden realization that the social media construct I had built was clearly a manifestation of my ego (and that ego sure was a burly son-of-a-gun!), sent me into an anxiety-ridden, cringeworthy state of avoidance.
The extension of self through Facebook had somehow consumed me: there was an unconscious narrative running through my mind that bound a part of me to a projected, polished fabrication. This isn’t to say I wasn’t being authentic on Facebook. The issue wasn’t falsely presenting myself; the issue was the festering practice of seeking external validation. It defined my relationship status. It defined my sunset experience. It defined my vanity to the nth degree with each like, love, and wow reaction.
Most of the articles on the subject tout the benefits of a social media detox : discovering you aren’t missing anything, enhancing real-life relationships, becoming more present and mindful, experiencing more happiness and less comparison — they’re all accurate examples.
These perks were on my radar when I made the decision to liberate myself of the Facebook habit. It’s common knowledge that social media is designed to prey upon our emotions, insecurities, and brain chemistry to keep us coming back for more.
As with any addiction, I decided to go cold turkey. After more than three years away from Facebook, I am more emotionally grounded and rooted in my core being.
What I didn’t expect when withdrawing from Facebook was finding the path to truly and completely loving myself. Here’s what I realized:
1. Extra time and energy is best reserved for self.
There was something in the absence of Facebook that helped me to turn my focus inward. When I was free from any attachments and expectations related to an online presence, I was able to swap constant connectedness and feeding the attention of others for conserving my time and energy.
A walk, writing, or a nap simply replaced scrolling.
More importantly, I began to value my energy and identify my needs more easily. Rather than distracting myself, I tuned into myself and started doing the things I truly enjoy; it didn’t take long to recognize what uplifted me and what left me feeling bogged down.
Less screen time, less triggering newsfeed items, and less replying and small talk created space to rejuvenate my mind and body instead. My energy—digitally and in actual life—is a precious commodity.
2. The ego fixates upon a limited perception of self-worth.
I mentioned feeling anxious and avoidant as the turmoil bubbled over in my life. These feelings were related to the actual events taking place, but also to an underlying fear of having to “admit” things weren’t okay and having to tuck my tail between my legs. I didn’t exactly care about what people thought, but I certainly felt a strong desire to maintain the validation I was receiving through this external feedback loop. Removing a crucial piece of the loop reinforced that nothing offered from likes or comments actually validated me as a woman.
My worth is not tied to any algorithm that puts me at the top of the Facebook feed. I do appreciate kind words, yet clearly distinguish them as separate aspects from my own divine essence. Celebrating yourself solely based on your own inner compass and self-worth, while doing so behind closed doors, is a most beautiful victory.
3. Being selfish and practicing self-love are radically different.
There were moments when I questioned whether or not I was being selfish by leaving Facebook and severing my only tie to people who were, and are, important in my life.
But truthfully, taking a step back and signing off from a distracting and addictive social media platform was the most unselfish thing I could do. There is nothing selfish about a woman who takes the time to soul search and do the work privately. There is nothing selfish about a woman who is showing up in the world owning her power, whole, and healing herself. It was the most unselfish thing that I could have done for myself, the people I care about, and the people I interact with.
There was a distinct shift in my values, primarily a renewed prioritization of self. Through the practice of discernment, boundary setting, and taking care of my own needs first, I’m now able to share, give, and love in the most stable and expansive way.
When I set out on my journey, I didn’t anticipate how utterly blissful my life would become and just how much more enjoyable and meaningful it could be without any Facebook fixation.
I was able to create the life I wanted for my authentic self, aligned with my desires and values, because I allowed myself to take the time and space I needed.
I have just reactivated Facebook again, however, I’m engaging differently this time. There’s no app or access to Messenger on my mobile device, just the occasional login from my desktop. I’m showing up again because I want to be seen; I want to be visible and share my gifts, guidance, and tools that have helped me along the way.
I’m taking back my power and facilitating a more positive experience. My relationship with Facebook has changed; it’s a more healthy and balanced relationship now, because I’m a more healthy and balanced person.