cleanse

I stopped using social media for a month and here are 9 positive lessons I learned:

  1. Enjoy the moments you get to be apart of and fully immerse yourself instead of wishing you recorded them for other people to see
  2. Don’t automatically pick up your phone during socially awkward moments of silence and dull conversation; put away and dive deeper
  3. Detach your self-worth from outward love and approval ; love yourself for who you are, and your body for what it is
  4. Be more intentional in your relationships and facilitate sincere conversations with people you think you know really well
  5. Don’t assume friends are doing well from photogenic pictures and 10-second videos; put meaning to ‘keeping in touch’
  6. Form your own opinions instead of cleverly articulating someone else’s
  7. Take pictures because you love them and want to capture the candidness life has to offer
  8. Let go of the pressure to persuade your followers how adventurous and artsy you can be; you are both
  9. Don’t compare your journey to others’ journeys; not everyone is getting married or working their dream job (there’s always a few that happen at the same time so it feels like everyone, but you are most likely in the majority)

A month isn’t a long time, but it made a significant difference. A month ago, I was waiting by my phone, hyper-vigilant about how many likes and views I was getting. I was watching friends’ Snapchat videos, wondering if I wasn’t invited because I wasn’t actually that likable. Every time I exited a social network, I’d open the next one, continuing this rotation of opening and closing apps as if anything would have changed within the last 15 minutes. Surprise! That cute couple is still together. That girl from college still turns up every weekend. That friend is still dancing in the car (LOL totally me)… Nothing ever changed. I was still me; they still them. But I noticed the more I used social media, the less content, less creative, and less confident I was. Scrolling through timelines became less about keeping up with people I cared about, and more of a place for self-loathing, pondering why my life didn’t look a certain way.

Gradually, I let these minuscule, fleeting things equate my value, and it’s a bad habit I think we all fall into every now and then. It’s hard when our world glorifies money, beauty, and success. But I know that my worth and my identity isn’t rooted in the things of this world; it’s rooted in Christ. He goes before me; to Him my heart belongs and in Him my treasure is stored. I know that I exude love and that I’m full of life and that I’m fearfully made and that I’m beautiful every single day, without the fashion and the makeup and the Insta likes. I just had to be reminded. And what a sweet reminder God’s love is.

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“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4

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great worth

I’ve always been the active listener, the good friend, the question-asker, the supporter, the advice giver. I’ve always been the one who will almost never interrupt or interject because to me that is rude, and the other person is important. I’ve always been a mystery to others, because I want to know so much about them and never offer the chance for them to hear about me. I’ve always been the girl who knows everything about everyone, but people know very few things about me.

And I never really thought of these traits as something to fix, or something to be proud of. I just accepted them as a part of me, knowing that’s just who I am and that it makes me unique.

But love has shown me other wise. Love has shown me that when people really care for you, they want to hear everything you have to say. Love has shown me that when you are a human, and you are a creation of God, you are worthy and valued. Love has shown me that my words carry weight, and should never be put on the back burner.

It’s been a common theme that in almost every relationship I’ve had, whether it be with a boss, co-worker, a close friend, or colleague, they want to hear more from me. They feel like they’re talking too much, and haven’t heard a word from me. They think that I look like I have something good to say, but I don’t say it. They think there’s so much more to me; that I’m a mystery. I use the excuse of being an introvert or reserved, and it’s usually understood. But personality is not black and white. We can’t be divided into introverts and extroverts because life would be all too boring, and humans are too complex to be one or the other.

The truth is that I’m not loving myself enough. I don’t think what I have to say is important all the time. I do think I’ve had plenty of exciting moments in my life, but I don’t think people will feel the same way. I say I think of others before I think of myself, which is such a selfless thing to do, so of course I pat myself on the back. But the truth is, I don’t think of myself first enough. I don’t see myself the way God sees me, and that just sucks.

And I feel bad. I feel like I’ve sold people short. I hated high school because the popular people were the only ones who really mattered. People were mean and would come at the easiest target: someone who is quiet and most likely will not argue back. But had I loved myself more I might’ve had a different experience.

I have a 13 year old sister who is in high school now, & she means the world to me. I see myself in her every single day. She has picked up so many of my traits and gosh. I would hate for the awesomeness she has to offer to not be shown. It is so draining to only love others and not yourself. So I sent her this note:

“I just want to let know that you should really love yourself for who you are. You are worthy and beautiful not because of the number of likes or comments you might get on Instagram or any network, but you are worthy and beautiful because you are Arielle and because God handmade you. And the words that you say have a lot of meaning. They matter, and so when you talk to someone and there’s an awkward silence or a break, don’t ask a question about themselves (unless you really want to know), because you don’t think they want to hear what you have to say. Talk about yourself. Share a funny story. Talk about something you love talking about, whether it’s about a character in a book or this awesome dancer on So You Think You Can Dance or Justin Bieber or this new outfit you bought. Don’t ever think that what you say isn’t important, because the people who care about & love you would not carry a conversation with you if they didn’t want to hear what you have to say. Don’t become too wrapped up in being a great listener or asking good questions. You’re an interesting person and have so much to offer and are so wise for someone your age and you have great opinions and ideas and I think you should embrace that. There will always be someone who’s faster, or prettier, or smarter, but there will never ever ever be another you, and you should love yourself for that.”

Although that was for my sister, I think it was very much for me too. And so in future conversations if I kindly interrupt, or go on a random tangent, or talk a lot more than I usually do, know that I’m just on the trail of trying to love myself better.