Last week, my husband and I went on a vacation. Like, a real vacation. To a place outside the country that we had to travel to in an actual plane.
Isn’t it weird to not know about someone’s glorious beach vacation because you haven’t seen it on social media? Wait – actually, did someone’s glorious beach vacation even exist because you haven’t seen it on social media? Surprise again! It existed, and it was so much more glorious because it didn’t exist on social media.
It’s been just about five months since I quit social media.
Funny enough, I’m still getting asked about it, and often. Strangers and new acquaintances are shocked to learn I don’t do social media, and have an onslaught of questions about it. And friends are eagerly checking in every few weeks to ask if I’m still off of it, how it’s going, how I’m feeling, if I miss it, whether I’ll stay off social media forever.
To preempt your reply with the same questions:
Yes, I’m still off social media. Yes, completely.
God, it’s going freaking awesome.
I’m feeling fantastic and focused and alive.
I don’t miss it for a second. I don’t even think about it.
Yes, I will stay off forever.
All of this was pretty firmly established pre-vacation, but experiencing travel without social media really solidified my new social media free lifestyle.
Have you ever traveled without using social media? In the last decade anyway? It’s so refreshing! And highly interesting. If you’re an observer like me, it’s an enriching and enlightening experience.
I’ve always been a noticer, but my noticing is now much more enhanced.
It’s amazing what you notice, the sheer expanse of detail you can take in, when you’re not looking down into a screen, or thinking about looking down into a screen. What’s best about noticing without intent to share on social media though, is that you can engage a little more with what you’re noticing. Process it. Contemplate it.
And truly, I noticed and contemplated so much on this trip. I think we both did. Smells, sights, sounds. The feel of the humid air, the wind. The freshness and texture of the food we ate. I noticed, too, how much more I could just be still and observe, without the urge to do much of anything at all. Sure, I read a lot too, but I also spent plenty of time just quietly staring at the ocean, watching people on the beach or at the bar, smiling at my cute husband bopping his head to his tunes.
Maybe it sounds silly or simplistic or haughty to say it, but I really think this has a lot to do with being off social media. With no obligation to share anything with anyone, no urge to take a bunch of pictures to have options to post, no pull to craft the perfect encapsulation of our experience in fifty words or less plus hashtags, I had total freedom to be present. To just experience the moments as they happened. To embody myself and my life.
Honestly, it was the best vacation in years.
And again, it was also one of the most interesting. My husband and I both observed with a new lens just how much phones and social media lead people through their lives. We watched countless people spend half an hour taking selfie after selfie to get the perfect image. We watched people facetime on the beach. We watched with rapt attention a couple of young sisters spend at least twenty minutes trying to get the absolute best timed picture of themselves weirdly entwined with each other’s limbs, showcasing taut midriffs and pouty lips, hair blowing in the wind – in an actual restaurant.
To a certain extent, it made me kind of cringe internally. Like, I spent a lot of years inside that screen too. I spent a lot of years connected to it and disconnected from myself and my most important person. And to be clear – phones and social media don’t affect all people that way, but it did affect me.
I guess I just finally realized and more deeply understood I didn’t want to be the person who lived in the phone, but the person who lives in her life.
So yes, the vacation you don’t know or see anything about does exist. And, in fact, it exists in such bigger depth of relaxation and enjoyment, such brighter contrast and vibrancy of awareness, and also in such a beautiful and private and almost immediate way. Like – be here now and that’s all there is.
Which is true, by the way.
I guess the biggest thing I learned on this highly observant vacation is that you don’t even have to go on vacation for life to feel this way.
And I like that so, so much. Sometimes, it feels like that can’t possibly be true, like you have to step away from your “real life” in order to have any kind of life, but I think that’s a status quo copout, one we make out of fear or uncertainty. For me, the life and the business and the relationship and the pets and the friendships you don’t know or see anything about also exist, and in all that same enhanced depth, richness, and beauty. What an exquisite thing.
I read a book about writing (and life) while on vacation, and one of the ideas the author offered for getting past writer’s block was to imagine this day was your last day, that you’d die tomorrow. Ask yourself what you’d do today if you knew you wouldn’t have a tomorrow, what would make this last day great, satisfying, and go out and do that. As in, release the expectation that you have to write because it’s your job, and go do something you enjoy, live your life, if only for a short time. When you do that, the writing will come.
Maybe it’s the birthday this week talking, but I just keep leaning into this idea more and more. I’m not afraid of death, and I think it’s smart to think about it.
When you think about death, you think about life. And I want to be a person who dies knowing she lived.
So if I could share just one insight or gentle suggestion with you from my no social media vacation, it would be this:
Don’t be afraid to live your life with intense and deliberate essentiality, every day, all the time. However you can find connection to your moments, do it.
Maybe it’s taking a break from social media for a little while, or forever. Maybe it’s making a major change or transition in your work or life. Maybe it’s doing some internal work or finally starting therapy. Maybe it’s something tiny or impulsive, like sneaking off to play a round of mini-golf. But whatever feels like it might enhance the vividness of your existence, do it.
And if you can, do it today.
If you need a little support in figuring out what this journey looks like, let’s talk coaching. Schedule a free chat with me below, or email me anytime. You can get more insights about life lessons by signing up for weekly emails here.
Also: I recently talked in way more depth about my experience off social media, and also about the strong correlation between social media and body image issues on the Real Food, Real Conversations podcast. I shared a ton of research about it, and we also had a juicy conversation about mental health and social media. I think you’ll enjoy, so check it out by clicking on the image below!