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I'm Aly Kirkpatrick.

I'm a wife, business owner, and photographer fueled by Dr. Pepper and anything sweet! I am married to my high school sweetheart, and love living in the Arizona desert!

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21 Lessons from 21 Days Without Social Media

January 26, 2019

personal

Hmm… Where to even begin…

(Sidenote: On blog posts, I always mark a category to make it easier for people to search specific categories on my blog, and for this one I really contemplated adding a “double personal” category…¬†You guys it’s about to get really real…)

My church does a 21 Day Fast at the beginning of every year. In the past I have done a food fast where you basically only eat fruits and vegetables for 21 days. It was always such a challenge for me! However, this year, as I began to think about what my soul really needed, I knew taking a break from social media was the right thing for me to do.

I am not here to bash social media or tell you it’s horrible, because I know there are a lot of positives things about it. However for me, in the current season of life I’m in, those little tiny apps on my phone became a huge source of sadness, insecurity, and comparison.

Sadness about what I thought my life would look like at age 24 only to be slapped in the face with the reality of watching other people live out what I wish I could.

Insecurity about who am I (or who I am not) based on the people I follow and how I perceive their life and personality.

Comparison about my business of photography and envying other photographer’s opportunities, skill level, creativity, and income.

What’s crazy, is I know I’ve been on both sides of the proverbial social media “coin”. I’ve been on the side where I get sad and start comparing myself to other people’s highlight reel… But I also knew that I was putting up my own highlight reel as well to put off some facade that my life is perfect. Reality check – it’s not.

I knew it was time for a break… cold turkey. I never thought I could do it because even though I hated the way social media made me feel, I felt like a slave to it because of how much my business relies on it.

But, when you get desperate, you find a way to make things happen.

And so that’s what I did. I asked people to handle my incoming messages and to keep me accountable. I learned a lot, and so I wanted to share it with you all because I know this can be a real struggle for a lot of people! These 21 things are literally just my honest thoughts; some are good, some are bad…

So here it goes… in no particular order…

21 Lessons I Learned From 21 Days Without Social Media

  1. I found myself not wanting to do as many “cool” things because I knew I wouldn’t be able to post about it. (aka – I couldn’t post my highlight reel)
  2. I had to rely on people I actually knew for opinions or recommendations.
  3. Within the first few days, I realized I had a subconscious tendency to always check my phone. Seriously, I would find myself clicking on the Instagram app out of pure habit and not even realizing it until it was almost too late. That’s a problem…
  4. I realized that I had been letting social media own my life… With being a business owner, I felt like I had to post an amazing photo with an amazing caption every day so I could get a lot of “likes” or comments because I felt like that would somehow make me feel better. I felt like everything had to be “story worthy”.
  5. I had less thoughts of insecurity and began feeling more confident in who I am.
  6. I realized I was scrolling my feed out of boredom… and that boredom was leading me down a dangerous road I didn’t know I was on until it was too late… What I mean by that is, I would scroll, and then I would see a post/story/comment/status that would trigger negative feelings inside of me, either about myself or another person. I didn’t intentionally ask to see those things, but by the time I saw it, it was too late and now I was left to process these negative emotions.
  7. I had less opportunities to compare myself to others… because I was never seeing anything to compare myself too. It was great! (insert a thumbs up here!)
  8. I can’t control what other people post and I can’t always control what I see on social media. And what I saw wasn’t always good for me. So, through me simply and innocently scrolling, I was allowing myself access to things I didn’t need or want to see.
  9. I felt slightly out of the loop. But I was strangely ok with that…
  10. I felt more productive and more present in my life.
  11. I was able to live my life for what it was, where I was, and who I was physically with.
  12. I learned that people subconsciously think they’ve communicated to you about something going on in their life if they’ve posted about it on social media. People almost expect you to know what’s happening if they’ve updated their status. We’ve gotten away from one-to-one communication and have gone to mass communication of one-to-one thousand.
  13. I heard a statement recently… “A change of pace + a change of place = a change of perspective”. This statement has been very true in my life the last 21 days. While my life was still fast and busy, I didn’t have other people’s lives cluttering my mind as well (change of pace). I wasn’t spending time on my phone/social media (change of place). I have also felt much more “in tune” with myself and the Lord over the last 21 days (change of perspective).
  14. Fear of missing out is real… I realized I would find a lot of events or places to go by searching social media or seeing something that someone else had done. Without that, I did feel a little bit like I was probably missing out on some things.
  15. I wasn’t able to make assumptions about people I didn’t really know. And most of the time, assumptions are false anyways.
  16. I felt more mentally balanced.
  17. Being a photography business owner, I do think it’s important to feel inspired by others in the creative community and so I would follow certain accounts that I thought inspired me. However I realized that I was feeling less inspired by them and actually just more jealous of them instead.
  18. I began to have a better perspective on problems I am facing in my life.
  19. I lost my source of most information, but was it really any of my business anyways? Probably not… I think social media has given a lot of people an excuse to be nosy.
  20. I felt like I isolated myself from a fantasy world and it was actually kind of nice.
  21. I was able to slow down enough to take a mental inventory, so to speak. I decided I needed to make some changes in my life regarding the area of social media. It’s scary because a lot of my business actually comes from social media. The thought of “quitting social media” sounds terrifying from a business standpoint. But, I came to the realization that the successfulness of my business was not worth the failure of my mental health. And that was a hard thing to be honest with myself about.

 

If anyone has gotten to this point, I seriously applaud you! I know a lot of people struggle with balancing social media and their personal life, and so I hope that this was helpful – even just for one person.

I wrote a blog post at the beginning of this year about my word for 2019 being “peace” and I honestly feel like I felt like I experienced more peace in my life over the last 21 days.

For the time being, things may look a little quieter on the social platforms many of you are used to seeing me on. I will post when/what/how I want, not when/what/how the social algorithms tell me I should post. I will probably be less informed about your life if I see you in person (sorry in advance!!) I will still keep up with my direct messages, so if you have thoughts about this for your own life, I’d love to talk to you about it! Feel free to comment below, message me, or email me at alykirkphoto@gmail.com!

Aly Kirk Photo Mesa, Arizona Photographer

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