Do you all remember last year when I took a break from Instagram for a couple months because I hated how I was using it, eventually to return with a commitment to use it more intentionally?
I actually did do that. And while it lasted it was alright.
Then two things happened. First it was turning 30. When I was a teenager, I used to think turning 30 and all the changes that come with it were primarily physical, since that’s all anyone went on about. Hormone shifts, weight gain, struggling with no longer being “young” (we all know this is bullshit, but still. Pop culture lives to make everyone neurotic. I’m digressing.)
Two months in, the real change is psychological. Something about turning 30 fine tuned some switches and completely turned off others. I’m feeling like I have all the time in the world, and in the same breath, like time on Earth really is a blip on the radar.
90 percent of the external stuff I was paying mind to just doesn’t matter.
My 30th birthday was December 16th. Then on December 30th, we lost my Grandpa.
Any thoughts I was having about time being both long and short were cemented and clarified by Grandpa’s passing. He had a full 80 years of happiness and challenges, and his presence in my life is probably stronger now. I know he’s deceased, and scrolling through my phone the other day, seeing all of the pictures I have of him served as the sad reminder he is in fact gone. But at the same time, he doesn’t feel gone.
Earlier this week before the ice melted, I had to use the two walking sticks he made to steady myself while I was walking out to my car. I told Grandma that night how even in death, Grandpa is still taking care of us. Those walking sticks were lifesavers. As is his coat that I wear whenever I’m out back feeding my animals or walking to the gym early in the morning.
I told Mom the other day how turning 30 and especially mourning Grandpa has forced me to take an inventory of all that I have in my life. Time is the one thing we can never get back, and I don’t want to waste any of it on things, situations or people that just aren’t worth it. “It” being my dedication, energy or happiness.
This is where Instagram comes into play.
Even before the holidays and the health crises with my grandparents, I had been growing disillusioned with Instagram and social media. Frankly, I felt too old to be on there and I found I didn’t have the interest in sharing pictures of myself. I wasn’t documenting runs and training, or even sharing pictures of Marina. I just didn’t care.
Then came the sadness of the holidays, of Grandma coming home for Grandpa to collapse and go to the hospital himself. The last thing I wanted to do was get on there and pretend to be optimistic or share the deeply personal, sad parts. I didn’t see the point of any of it.
It’s social media, yet I couldn’t give a damn about being social.
I decided earlier this week that if Instagram is that boring, a waste of time and just not appealing to me anymore, then this would be my sign to pull the plug. I posted a picture on Tuesday stating I’d be getting rid of my account on Friday, so if anyone wanted a way to keep in touch, shoot me a message and I’ll provide some contact information.
Nobody took me up on that, which I’m chuckling at. But then again I also have the phone numbers of the people I regularly talk to offline, and two of those people happen to be Mom and Grandma. So the folks who are going to know what’s going on with me are going to know regardless.
This morning I got antsy and decided to just pull the plug a day early.
Reader-friends, I’m wondering why the hell I was even on there for six years in the first place. Just the act of deleting the account and removing the app, as dumb as this may sound, has lifted a weight off my shoulders.
There’s more time in the day.
My brain is less foggy and I don’t have a headache, in spite of chugging a coffee sugar bomb from downstairs two hours ago.
In a word, I feel freer.
Grandpa showed me life – real life, not the curated version online – has to be lived and experienced in all of the moments. I don’t want to be passive and watch others any longer. I want however long I have on Earth – hopefully a long time, although nothing is promised to any of us – to be so focused on experience, purpose, falling and rising again and just living fully in it all.
Attempting to take golden hour selfies doesn’t mean squat next any of that.
So to Year 30 and beyond – and carrying the spirit of my grandfather within me – I’m dumping anything artificial to truly live.
To any of you thinking of purging yourself of distractions like social media, bad habits, or mindsets that aren’t taking you where you want to go, I hope this serves as motivation to do something that benefits current and future you. It’s only been sick hours and if I’m feeling this good this early on, can you imagine what six weeks or six months is going to look like?
I hope you all do what you must to live your most real, joyful life.
Yours in writing and running,