I’ll be real with you. I was nervous to take a social media break – much less two whole weeks away from it. I knew in my heart I needed it, but as a person who runs businesses that rely heavily on social media, I’ve always been hesitant to take the plunge for any longer than a weekend.
But here I am. I survived to tell about it and my businesses did too. In fact, they flourished, but more on that later.
For now I want to share a few things I learned during my social media hiatus.
Do you even realize what a huge distraction those little apps on your phone are? I didn’t until I deleted them and focused on the other parts of my business without them. As a work-from-home mom who doesn’t have 40 hours per week to dedicate to my business, the time that I can spend working is precious and needs to be used wisely.
So often, though, I’ll work for a while and then start scrolling Instagram or Facebook to see what all of the people are doing. I think on some level I tell myself that I’m working, because I do use social media for my businesses. But NEWSFLASH – watching what everyone else is doing does not qualify as work.
Yes, people can be inspiring and maybe even give you a good idea or two. But if we’re being honest I think we can all agree that more time is wasted on social media than it inspiring your next big idea. Which brings me to my next point…
The number one reason I took a social media break? I was dealing with some anxiety that had, in my opinion, gone too far. The morning of the day I called it quits I had to escape to the bathroom for a few minutes to cry… for no apparent reason.
I was overwhelmed and overstimulated from all of the things, and it bubbled over in the form of a post-breakfast meltdown in the bathroom so my boys wouldn’t ask why mama was sad.
I never thought that I had fallen too hard into the comparison game that social media can breed, but in retrospect I think maybe I had. Being a mom is hard. Running a business is hard. Keeping two businesses afloat is hard. And do you know that I’ve always expected myself to fulfill all of the roles of a SAHM while simultaneously killing it in my businesses. I give myself no grace.
And one large contributing factor to that? Social media. I can scroll and see how all of the other moms are doing. I can see how their kids are excelling and growing into kind, incredible humans. I can see how organized their linen closets are and all of the nutritious, made-from-scratch snacks they prepare for their kids. I can see how they create engaging, educational activities for their children to do at home. And I can also see how a fellow photographer has already filled her 2020 calendar and how another one launched a new educational program. I can see how a Monat Market Partner ranked up yet again and has a large team to encourage and help excel. And I think I have to do all of these things too.
There’s never been a time that being a mom and running two businesses was easy, but I’d venture to say it’s at an all time high on the difficulty scale if you let everyone else’s highlight reels get inside your head. When I’m not consuming social media, WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING PLAYS NO PART IN MY LIFE. Instead of feeling like I need to be doing all of the things at 110 percent, I do what I feel I need to do to make all of the different parts of my life work well together. Social Media Break: 1, Highlight Reels: 0
I was in a habit of constantly grabbing my phone to take a photo or a video every time one of my kids did something Instagram-worthy or anytime I was in a restaurant or in a part of town that would make my life look more interesting to my friends and followers.
I mean, what in the world, you guys. Is that how we’re meant to live? At the beck and call of our phones to record every ridiculous thing that happens so that we can impress a bunch of people? Because let’s be real, that’s what we’re doing on some level. That’s INSANE.
We are loved unconditionally by a really great God who loves us regardless of where we ate for lunch, how beautifully decorated our living room is or how well-dressed our kids are. And perhaps even more importantly, we are loved regardless of what our hundreds and thousands of friends on the interwebs say about it. We do NOT need the approval of other people on such things.
We were given lives to live fully and through our five senses – not through a phone screen. As a photographer, I naturally want to take more photos than the average person because I likely value photos more highly than most people, but there’s still a point where it becomes unnecessary and takes away from the experience or the moment.
So before I grab my phone to take a photo moving forward, I’ll be asking myself this: “Am I taking this photo or video so that I can remember it, or am I taking it to share it with thousands of people on the internet and gain positive feedback to feed my ego?” Because I want to enjoy my life, and all of the moments I’ve been blessed with. And I believe that many of those moments were given to me simply to take in and experience – not to share.
When I took my social media break, I was on the cusp of qualifying for a trip to Las Vegas with Monat. I figured cutting the social media leg off of my business wouldn’t do me any favors in that regard, but desperate times… So I signed off on a Saturday, and on Monday morning awoke to learn that I had qualified. Without hustling. Without posting. Without desperation.
What I find even more mind-blowing, though, was the following Thursday when I received more newborn photography inquiries in one day than I have in a day since we moved to Raleigh over a year ago. This is after being off of social media, what I assumed to be my business lifeline, for five days. I’m not trying to take you to church here, but to me, this was basically God saying, “Loosen the tight grip you hold on these things. I hold your future. I’ve got this.” Noted, God. Noted.
I never realized how loud the voices of the people I followed rang in my head. But it’s actually hard not to be influenced by who you surround yourself with. And guess what – if you stay at home with your kids, sometimes the people you surround yourself with are the voices of the internet.
If you think that you’re immune to this, that you’re not actually influenced by people you follow who you may not even know, I urge you to think again. There’s a reason they’re called influencers. And it’s not all bad. Many influencers share helpful and inspiring content. But when you consume too much of it; when the people you follow are constantly telling you to do this and do that, you start to listen to them and drown out your own voice. You bury feelings and instincts and conform to what the world wants you to be. You leave your heart and your passion in the dust as you blaze a trail elsewhere.
And then when those voices no longer have access to you, it’s quite amazing how your heart comes rushing through and guides you back to where you were meant to be.
At this point you may be thinking that I hate social media and all that it entails. That’s not true. I still think there’s goodness in it. I love how it connects, inspires and helps people, and I intend to continue using it for those purposes.
What I intend to do differently, though, is to not let it consume me. Yes, I want to share parts of my life, but I don’t want to share all of it. Some moments are just for me, and that’s ok.
Yes, I want to create helpful and inspiring content, but I want to consume FAR less than I was before. While it can be inspiring, it causes anxiety for me and I find that I’m more creative and centered without it.
Yes, I want to use it for business purposes, but I want to remember that it’s not the end all be all. No matter how much content I churn out, I am not fully in control of the fate of my businesses, and that’s a good thing. There’s Someone who has far better plans for me in that regard than I could ever map out for myself.