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How Do You Define Yourself Without Social Media?: Social Media Cleanse Rambles

Good morning, folks! It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, but since I’m slowly weaning myself off of social media, I find myself much more willing and able to devote myself to the things I really want to do, like blogging.

Within the past month or two, I’ve been in the process of kicking my bad social media habits. In fact, I deleted my Twitter this morning.

Okay, just my three-year-old public Twitter account. The account I’ve had since 2011 lives on – though now on private. I’m not going cold turkey quite yet. I did however find myself questioning why exactly I had so many social media accounts in the first place. Did I really need four Twitter accounts? Or five on Instagram? Why do I feel the need to segment myself off into different handles on the same platform? I would often find myself going to tweet on my private Twitter account and then closing out the tweet and just posting it onto my public account. My justification behind this account was to have something accessible that companies could see whilst I apply to jobs. Since I have a marketing degree, a lot of jobs I apply to do involve social media in one way or another. My professors in college often advised that we all create our own personal brands on social media for when we start out our careers. But I figured out something recently: I don’t care.

There is joy in privacy. There is joy in a lack of being perceived. Having these separate, publicly accessible accounts was just another way to create an alter ego of myself. The professional, liberal, city-loving, marketing enthusiast version of myself. I’ve come to the realization that sharing everything online for all the world to see doesn’t truly matter in the grand scheme of things. In fact, doing so can come at the cost of personal connection.

One of the biggest obstacles to me just impulsively deleting all of my social media is FOMO. Not FOMO in relation to events and celebrities, but people. Friends that I don’t text but do reply to their Instagram stories. How will I know what’s going on in their lives? Spoiler alert: I’d have to contact them individually via text or phone call. Social media has become a sort of one-stop shop for being updated on what’s happening in everyone’s lives. But how updated are you really? When someone posts a story to their 1,000 followers, that’s 1,000 different people to cater to. I don’t know about you, but I act differently around different friends. I’m not an entirely different person, but I take others’ interests and quirks into consideration when I speak and act. So a story post is actually way less personal than you would think. What your friends post is the condensed version of what they want to convey. How would they talk about something if it was just in a one-on-one setting? You’d probably learn a lot more about what’s going on from a simple conversation than from stalking their Instagram stories.

So, how do we stay in touch with people in the age of social media? Well, we text them. We talk to them one on one. I was talking to my therapist recently about feeling a little depressed and she asked me about my social life. She stressed that group chats and social media are no substitution for getting together with friends – having face time and real conversations with people. That’s what I want more of in my life. I want to meet up with my friends and just catch up. Instead of knowing they visited San Francisco, I can ask what they’ve been up to and learn what they really thought of San Fran. It’s so much more personal and meaningful to have these offline connections.

Alright. I’m going to contact people more often instead of scrolling through their profiles. Got it. But what about myself? As an avid social media poster, how do I transition from sharing to withholding? Simple: I learn to define myself without social media. Okay, maybe that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds. Who am I if not the girl who’s wearing green eyeshadow in her Twitter profile pic? The one with “she/they | cancer” in their bio? The one who posts all their latest baking shenanigans? It’s all very if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it makes a sound? If I do something without posting about it on Instagram, did I really do it? Short answer: YES. Sure I can post a picture every time I go hiking, but does that make me a hiker? No. I used to define myself as someone who loved hiking, but I never actually went hiking all that often. I simply posted a photo whenever I did, sort of as proof of this interest. Now, I’m trying to grapple with this defining interest of mine. I can go hiking every single weekend and not tell a soul. Does that mean I am still someone who enjoys hiking, or, am I being perceived as someone who enjoys hiking? The real secret: You don’t have to be perceived by others to define yourself, your identity, or your interests. Let me repeat that. You don’t have to be perceived by others to define yourself, your identity, or your interests. This is something that social media has started to push back against. But when I think back to my childhood, I think about how much I loved writing and illustrating stories. This was before social media, so nothing was ever shared with anyone unless I took the initiative to share it with people individually, in the real world. I did love storytelling and that was a core part of my identity even without social media. I’m trying to get back to that headspace.

Social media takes up so much of my free time. I often think oh, if I only had more time in the day. If I simply limit my time on social media, I can get back to doing the things that I love, the things that define who I am, without the influence or pressures of social media. I am my most authentic self when I am doing the things I love. That’s how I am defining myself now. Instead of scrolling through tweets about books I should read, I just read them. Instead of watching people do their makeup on TikTok, I experiment with my own makeup. The other day I put on bright green eyeshadow just because I felt like it – and it looked good! I haven’t expressed myself through my makeup in a long time, and I missed it. I had gotten so used to just expressing myself through my social media platforms, that I forgot that self-expression exists outside of social media. I can do my makeup, cut up my clothes, paint my room a random color, and more! Now every time I find myself about to enter the endless social media scroll, I think about what I would rather be doing. Then, I do it. It’s as simple as that, sometimes. And when it’s not simple? When the days get hard, and the depression and anxiety prevent me from doing the things I love, do I turn to social media to vent? No. I journal. There is a sense of peace that comes with venting all your feelings without sharing them with people you haven’t really spoken to in years. It provides me the same relief I felt when creating a finsta post, but without the constant infodump about my mental state on my friends. That isn’t to say I’ve stopped leaning on my friends for support, but rather that I can now work through my feelings on my own instead of shouting them out into the Instagram void. If I am to be someone who prioritizes mental health and takes care of themself, I need to be able to do so without relying on social media.

This post is sort of a ramble, but I think what I’m trying to get across is that there is more to me than who I am online. There is life beyond social media. It’s hard to remember that sometimes, since so much of what happens occurs online. However, working on myself and defining myself by my hobbies and things I do outside of the confines of my screen has been more fulfilling than any social media account I’ve ever started. Hopefully, I continue on this path and relearn how to live life authentically, not digitally.

Why I’m Considering a Social Media Cleanse

As someone who holds a marketing degree, you’d think that social media and I would be BFFs. For the most part, you’d be right. I’ve been on nearly every form of social media for almost a decade and have even recently succumbed to the lures of TikTok. I don’t usually allow myself to feel the negative effects of these platforms: last year I unfollowed dozens of celebrities and influencers that I only followed because I envied their looks/lifestyle/etc. I genuinely don’t feel bad about myself when I use Instagram (for the most part, anyway).

What I’m really curious about is, well, me. Growing up surrounded by other people’s personalities and profiles, I feel a sense of lacking when I think about my own. Is my curated, Lightroom-filtered feed really who I am?

When I look back at my posts from high school (which have since been archived, of course), I see someone who exudes individuality, someone who doesn’t care what other people think of her profile, someone who will post a bunch of pictures of leaves because she feels like it and not because she thinks it fits in her feed. I’m not sure when this switch happened — perhaps in the midst of marketing classes where I’ve been told that I need to market myself on socials for prospective employers — but I definitely feel the loss of who I used to be.

Lingering on this subject for too long leaves me wondering if I’m just being nostalgic for a person I’ve grown out of or if that was really the real me. It’s hard to tell these days what the real me even is. I’m inundated with aesthetics and traits that people brand themselves with. Am I more cottagecore or do I want to be dark academia? Which aesthetic should I try on this month? I’m tired of trying on personality traits like they’re clothes. I want to discover who I am outside of these labels, and I feel like I can only do that if I fully separate myself from the source.

Will I actually quit social media? Who knows. I do know that this soul searching has motivated me to become more introspective and less performative. Instead of retweeting an article, I will read it, sit with it, and perhaps do my own research. I’ve begun journaling (not consistently, though — that’s something I need to work on) as a way of getting in touch with my emotions and thoughts. Rather than projecting this image of who I want to be, I want to self-assuredly be one with who I am. To do that, I have to define myself outside of other people’s expectations. I want to be able to look at someone’s social media and not feel this strange sense of longing to change up everything about myself just to match the vibe. I want to be so secure in my identity that no one can take it away from me. I want to figure out what makes me, me.

January 2021 Reading Wrap Up

If you know me, you know that as much as I love reading, I kinda suck at it.

Each year, it feels like I have to change my Goodreads goal at the last second because I am always behind on my reading. This year, I want to change that.

Now that I am out of college and accustomed to the pandemic (which definitely negatively impacted my reading habits back in the first lockdown), I’m hoping to actually meet my humble goal of 30 books this year. Considering how January went, I think it’s very possible!

I read FIVE books this past month! Granted, two were comic collections, but I’m still very proud of myself. Keep reading for some quick reviews on the books I’ve read as well as my goals for February.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves. 

For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.

Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get. (Amazon)

Now, I actually wrote a whole separate blog post about my feelings about this book if you want to read it here. For those of you who haven’t read it, I’ll just say this: I see the appeal. I understand why there was so much hype surrounding this book. However, for me, it crossed the line from memoir into self-help book just a bit too many times.

★★☆☆☆

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. (Amazon)

I started rereading The Hunger Games series last year because I wanted to read the prequel that came out. When I first read Catching Fire back in middle school, I said that it was my favorite book in the series. You know what? I stand by that. There’s a great balance of aftermath from the first games, character development, and action. I absolutely love this book. Plus, the last line is definitely one of the best last lines I’ve ever read.

★★★★★

Snotgirl Vol. 1

WHO IS LOTTIE PERSON? Is she a gorgeous, fun-loving social media star with a perfect life or a gross, allergy-ridden mess? Enter a world of snot, blood, and tears in this first collection from New York Times Best Seller BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY (Scott Pilgrim, Seconds) and dazzling newcomer LESLIE HUNG!

Collects SNOTGIRL #1-5. (Amazon)

Now, I’ve heard a lot about Snotgirl. Just seeing the aesthetics of this comic alone made me want to pick it up. Once I started reading it, however, I was caught off guard by just how weird it is. The characters are hard to like and the plot is hard to follow. It did pick up a bit toward the end, though, and I went into the second volume cautiously optimistic.

★★★☆☆

Snotgirl Vol. 2

From the creator of SCOTT PILGRIM! Lottie Person is a glamorous fashion blogger living her best life in L.A. ― at least that’s what she wants you to think. CALIFORNIA SCREAMING finds Lottie putting the past behind her and trying to make the best of a bad situation ― her life! Lottie’s new bestie is an emotional roller coaster: first she died, and then she killed someone. Who will Caroline hurt next, and what is her brother Virgil doing here? What secret is Detective John Cho seeking in the desert? Why did Cutegirl ghost her sister? Is Normgirl really going to marry Ashley? And what in god’s name did Sunny ever see in Charlene? These questions and many others may possibly be answered in SNOTGIRL, VOL. 2: CALIFORNIA SCREAMING! IGN calls SNOTGIRL “Fresh and different!” and says “its sheer weirdness, creativity and heart will appeal to fans of SCOTT PILGRIM and SECONDS!”

Collects SNOTGIRL #6-10. (Amazon)

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. I wrote this in my Goodreads review but I’ll just say it again: I liked issue #6 better than the entirety of volume #1. While the weirdness not only continued in this book but escalated, I do see a plot forming. It’s still very strange and definitely not for everyone, but I’m going to keep going with this series.

★★★☆☆

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year. (Amazon)

Where do I begin? Mockingjay is the finale to The Hunger Games series and uh… it’s not good. The first third of the book starts out alright. I admire the portrayal of Katniss in her clearly shaken state. But the ending was so unsatisfying. It felt untrue to some of the characters and there wasn’t enough explanation of what happened after the events of the book. Tell me how society moves on, Suzanne! Also, please rewrite Finnick’s story – he deserved better.

★★★☆☆

I read a lot of 3 star reads this past month, and I’m hoping that will change in February.

My hopes for the upcoming month is to finish books I’ve stretched out for way too long, and to read some books by black authors for Black History Month.

What are your reading goals? Let me know!

What I Wore: January 26, 2021

In the midst of the pandemic, getting dressed and putting on “real person clothes” has been struggle for everyone. Whether it’s wearing pajama pants to your Zoom meeting or simply not putting on jeans for the past 10 months, most seem to have forgone their usual fashion habits.

Something I’m trying to do for my mental health is get dressed every morning. Even if it’s just into a different pair of leggings, putting on clothes helps me feel productive in the most uncertain times.

Today, I got all dressed up with nowhere to go (spot the Niall Horan reference).

Pictured in this look is the Issa jumpsuit from The Kit. by Daniel Vosovic. You can even peep the matching jacket in the background. I’ve become a big fan of this brand because of its fun colors and bold prints. When I saw these two pieces on Poshmark, I knew I had to snag them.

I’ve paired the jumpsuit with a black turtleneck mainly due to the fact that it’s snowing outside, but also because a black turtleneck elevates every look in my opinion. Here are links to the jumpsuit and a similar jacket (because everything on this site is made to order, styles and prints rotate often). You can also get the turtleneck here.

On top of the jumpsuit is a yellow open front cardigan I got from Modcloth. I may have already gotten a stain on this one, but I’ll still wear it regardless because of how soft it is. Plus I love a borderline mustard yellow. You can get it here.

Finally, I paired off the look with a black bandana. This was because bandanas are kind of fashionable again and my bangs just didn’t look that good today.

Have your looks suffered or shined during this everlasting quarantine? Let me know!

The Mindset I Want to Take With Me Into 2021

2020 was one heck of a year. I had high hopes for 2020 after some devastating losses and realizations in 2019, but clearly, my expectations were a bit too high.

This year, I want to be conscious of my mental health and my self-care routine. I’m not trying to use buzzwords here: I mean I need to do the hard things that I know are good for me.

If you’ve ever been depressed, you know that everything suddenly becomes a struggle. So this year, I’m prioritizing getting dressed every morning despite not leaving my house, washing my face morning and night, and setting aside time to move my body. These are all things that I have been known to push aside from my daily routine in favor of being sedentary and sad (which is a very good slogan for being depressed: sedentary and sad). However, things like having good hygiene or starting off my day with stretching pretty much guarantee a happier, more productive day. So why have those things been so hard for me?

I had this realization in therapy recently. I often find myself in two states: Anxious or Depressed. Anxious Me operates at the risk of burnout but does in fact get things done. Depressed Me operates at the risk of digging myself a little depression hole: I essentially do nothing because that feels safer than doing something that could make me anxious, upset, frustrated, stressed, etc. When talking to my therapist about how I cycle through these states, she noted that I can choose the middle ground. I’ll put a disclaimer here and say that, obviously, mental illness is not a choice, but this was something I needed to hear. I operate in my own comfort zones. Depression is a comfort zone. Anxiety is a comfort zone. There come choices during my day where I pick either the anxiety-inducing option or the depression-spiraling one. Really, there’s often a third choice: a middle ground.

When making choices throughout the day, it is important to note not just what feels good and comfortable now, but what will feel good and comfortable later. For example, I know that moving my body makes me feel better, but I don’t often feel as though I have the energy to do so. However, setting aside time (especially in the morning) to do some light stretches is low-effort and leaves me feeling better about the day ahead. Committing to an entire workout regime puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself that often leaves me wanting to just do nothing at all. Ensuring I do some light stretches or unstructured yoga in the morning, however, makes me feel like I’ve done something good for my body without exerting a significant amount of energy. It also is an activity I consider to be productive. If the feeling of productivity continues, I could do some more intense workout moves, but if not, I have still moved my body that day. There is no judgment if I decide not to work out, but rather compassion for myself for doing something that benefits both my body and my mind. 

Taking care of my health— mental, physical, and emotional —should be my priority. In 2021, I’m looking to find more middle ground, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming months of self-compassion and growth.

Book Review: Untamed by Glennon Doyle

There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves.

For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.

Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get. (Amazon)

Recently, I had joined a book club discord chat where the first read was Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I’ll admit – I knew nothing about this book, but I knew there was quite a lot of hype around it. It’s one of those books that seems to garner nothing but praise. After finding out it was a memoir with a bit of self-help book vibes, I was eager to start reading. As much as I love a good self-improvement binge, I, unfortunately, did not like this book.

Let’s start by talking about the overall structure of the book. The book is split into three parts, with parts one and two taking up the first 100 pages, and the final part taking up the majority of the book. While I wish the divisions of the book were a bit more even, the flow of the book made sense with the length of the sections. However, the sections themselves seemed a bit all over the place.

Memoirs and self-improvement books that I’ve read typically are filled with anecdotes that relate to a Bigger Picture. That wasn’t necessarily the case with Doyle’s book, though. Every minuscule chapter had some kind of anecdote, and while many of them connected, the order and meanings of these chapters were a little disorganized. A lot of the chapters connect to Doyle’s story of discovering her sexuality as well as her “Knowing”, but others seem to be one-off lessons that, while nice to hear, just feel out of place.

One section had an entire piece on learning about dealing with your own internal racism as a white woman. Now, I actually thought this was an important chapter for white women to internalize, but it just seemed to be stuck in the middle of the book without much of a reason. It didn’t connect to the greater story but instead felt like a footnote that went on for a long time. I’m not saying this to disregard the content, but to critique its place in the context of the story. There were parts of this chapter that felt very scripted and inorganic. While I know that this is a written work that has been through multiple rounds of editing and is therefore not organic in itself, I couldn’t shake the stiff wording that almost sounded like they were quotes from somewhere else. For me, it took away from the points being made because they sounded less genuine. This was definitely a theme that continued throughout Doyle’s work.

In many chapters, we see quotes of dialogue as part of the mentioned anecdotal structure. Once again, I understand that these are not direct, organic quotes. However, they read as scripted and stiff. It was almost as if Doyle herself wanted to sound like a self-help book in her conversations. It really took me out of the story and deprived me of resonating with otherwise impactful writing.

This book wasn’t all bad, though. The story of Doyle’s sexuality and personhood in the midst of trying to fit into cultural and societal pressures is all too relatable. Most people who have been raised as women can relate to pieces of her story. Reading about a woman breaking free of those expectations weighing her down is freeing. Additionally, I really enjoyed all the chapters involving Doyle’s daughter, Tish. I could read a whole book about Tish’s outlook on life. I loved hearing about this confident daughter who feels her emotions and is unashamed of them. We need more of that mindset.

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite book, but it still has some value. It’s been pointed out to me that how someone has been raised definitely affects their perceptions of this book. I personally had already come to some of the conclusions that Doyle was realizing; however, I had an open-minded, liberal upbringing where I didn’t feel as much intense pressure to confine to societal expectations. But that doesn’t mean I’m immune to them. I can see the value in discussing these breakthroughs and I believe that we should discuss them. That being said, this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

If you want a book that will empower you to defy expectations and look within yourself instead of society, though, then this is definitely the book for you.

★★☆☆☆

Introducing Me

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog. It feels a bit naked at the moment due to the fact that I am currently writing its first post, but hopefully, I’ll be consistently posting on a weekly basis!

It’s been my dream since I was a small preteen to have my own blog. Whether I’m just sharing my own thoughts or reviewing some books or sharing something cool, I want to create content. English has always been my favorite subject (in fact, I majored in it) so it should come as no surprise that I want to tell stories for a living. This is just one way of going about doing that!

My favorite kind of content is the seemingly mundane. I love reading about people’s lives- a book they recently read and loved, their style, their thoughts and dreams. It’s this intangible connection to others that I want to create. Hopefully, that comes across here.

Here are a few fun facts about me to get this started:

  • My favorite food is strawberry shortcake
  • I graduated from college in May of 2020 with a degree in pr/marketing communications and English literature
  • Growing up, I danced every other day, learning contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, tap, jazz, and ballet. Tap and contemporary are my favorite!
  • I can play multiple instruments including the violin, guitar, and ukulele
  • My favorite color is green, but yellow is a close second
  • I have a lot of plants but a few of them are consistently half-dead
  • My favorite movie of all time is Matilda
  • I was a HUGE One Direction fan growing up
  • Vanilla and lavender are my favorite scents
  • I own four bookcases worth of books
  • Blue raspberry ICEEs are my go-to movie theater drink
  • My zodiac sign is cancer and my MBTI is likely INFP

I hope those random facts gave you a glimpse into who I am as a person.

Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to go on this journey with you all.