Today I ended a much needed social media fast for close to two weeks. I also took an August sabbatical from a variety of the extra stuff I normally engage in and began to pull away from social media reading/scrolling of posts, with the exception of posting and coming right back out of it. I decided I was over the judging, comparing, etc. that I was not only seeing but was actually starting to seep into me, normally the well wisher of all, not too judgemental (we all have bias!) but normally affirming of people while being confident in who I am . What was happening was that something I thought I overcame, started to seep back in-feelings of inadequacy!
I knew it was starting to rear its head when in the middle of a meeting, I politely (with a huge smile on my face) excused myself, went to the restroom, and had a good cry. There wasn't a specific reason, I wasn't overwhelmed, job going great, husband and family well . What was clear to me is that I was feeling inadequate-not by the folks in the room-just in general. Questioning if I was living up to my full potential and whether or not I should move forward with some projects I was undertaking and wondering if they would be successful. I then started COMPARING! I had to pinpoint when those feelings came up and I recognized that most of the time, more recently, when I was online, I walked away feeling less than positive. Those feelings transferred into behaviors that allowed procrastination to set in and self-doubt. So I started to limit my time on the airwaves and then ultimately, through a corporate fast through my church, eliminated it all together. While I was wondering what was going on "out there" not only did I become more productive, but I also became a lot more positive and began reflecting on areas of my life that I had put in the parking lot. I also got to a place where I no longer wondered "what was going on out there" because those I am most connected to, I was in touch with.
With the distraction of social media removed, I was more attentive to myself and could really take a look at where I was in my work and how I was feeling. Why was I allowing inadequacy, self-doubt, the comparison lie creep into my spirit when I speak against those very same things in my work and in all of the relationships I have with family and friends. I knew that for me, as a person who had overcome depression and anxiety, those triggers connected to self -esteem and inadequacy were uprising and I was allowing myself to go into that downward spiral that was all too familiar. Part of it attributed to what some call "Super Woman syndrome" and going online watching things take off for people was putting me in a place of inadequacy leading me straight into depression. I have a special blog on Super Woman syndrome that will be posted soon. Let's just say I left my cape in the cleaners a long time ago and decided to never pick it up. That being shared, I will always be an overachiever so for a woman like me, going on social media 5 minutes, with personal/professional projects pending, sends me into inadequacy overload! The social media break was monumental in some things I not only uncovered but addressed. I was also more attentive to others as well, which allowed some revelations to occur for me. The revelations were clear and some of the following is what I took away from it:
1. I drew closer to God and was delivered from an area of my life that had been impacting me personally and spiritually. Inadequacy, depression and anxiety are not my portion.
2. Through #1, I was also able to get the veil removed of the who and what, as it relates to those I love, and was able to really reflect on relationships and through that, decided to close out on seasons in a peaceful way within my heart. I now believe people when they show me who they are and what that means for them when they are in relationship with me. Also, that it really is okay for those seasons to end, still loving the person and never needing to flesh through, talk through, get clarity, etc, on what happened with anyone, including them. It was empowering. I only need approval from Our Father and as long as I walk with him, he will keep me aligned with those in which I never have to defend who I am or feel inadequate or less than. I went back to what I know and have always shared. There are some people who are not able to love and honor you, the way in which you deserve and sometimes it has nothing to do with you. Sometimes, they just don't have the capacity, at least right now. But when you know this, you move forward and honor the season for the self growth and self-knowledge it provided for you. Healing and forgiveness in place and self-forgiveness for dishonoring myself and who God has molded me to be.
3. Confirmation: I was able to look at where I am and stand in my convictions, stop making excuses, stop blaming folks, stop wondering "why" I am dismissed in things I feel I should be called to. There is no entitlement in this life and there are good reasons to fall back and focus on God's business for your own business. I set out to continue planning, setting dates, moving dates. Basically, stopped shelving and move forward fearlessly.
4. All of my pending project dates through 2018 and 2019 are booked and have movement on the work involved, inclusive of projects with my husband. Focused, organized and on my A game-giving myself a break for those things I decided to date out in order to accommodate the projects that need to be brought to fruition sooner.
5. Deeper intimacy with my husband and children, with the ability to restore extended family relationships in a beautiful way. This was part of the greatest height of my fast and sabbatical. The connection. Critical for the soul is the intimate attentiveness of loved ones.
6. Application: I am more focused on scripture than ever and when I set out to do something it's not because it feels good in the belly of my stomach but because of confirmation, conversation/my relationship with God and knowing the difference between the good feeling in my belly to do something and the Holy Spirit moving within me, providing confirmation from My Father, to move on it!
7. Patience-the toughest lesson I learned throughout the sabbatical/fast. I was being anxious and very upset regarding something I was going so hard for and it sat pending. I had a huge laugh out loud moment, weeks later, when something else came along-even greater and that which I thought I wanted, God knew better. I learned that everything that is for me, will be mine and allowing God to do his work, I will be where I need to be, I will be called to the table where he sees fit and I have to know that my plans don't always go my way not because I am lacking in an area-it's because it is truly not meant to be for me, and that timing is everything! Patience through the process is necessary.
8. Knowing when to pull back and take a break from the online madness out there. There are millions of beautiful stories out there because of some of the benefits of social media. But there is also a reason why depression and anxiety has quadrupled since the rise of social media inclusive of people dying by suicide. It is healthy and emotionally necessary to limit time in social media and to stay connected with the humanity of our spirits with one another. For me, I know my limits and will honor my spirit when a break is needed. I decided for myself that my time on social media would be limited to more business focused work as opposed to leisure scrolling. A more healthier balance and the freedom of having more time living in the here/now!
Throughout this fast and dealing with things head on, there were many tears, outrage, ranges of emotions, and finally peace. A sanctuary of peace within my own spirit and I attribute part of that to removing the distraction of social media, to reset myself and to remember who I am and who I belong to. I wear the stripes of a child of God and no post about anything can change the fact that I need to live out his plan for my life. I don't know if you've considered a fast or sabbatical-inclusive of social media but it doesn't hurt to give it a try. You never know who you will become in your journey and the life changes decisions that can come from it. Be self-reflective and pay attention to when you are ready. Be well!