As a working mom of triplets, a week alone is a rare and precious thing.
Yet this is what I experienced a few weeks ago when I spent a solo week in an Airbnb as part of an intensive retreat for Leo Babauta’s Fearless Mastery program.
To maximize the retreat experience, we were encouraged not to work, send emails, or post messages on social media.
It was hard to let go of these habits.
In fact, about 15 minutes after checking into my Airbnb, I opened my email and started scrolling. When I realized what I was doing, I actually said “Stop!” out loud. It was amazing how, even after setting up vacation responders and telling my clients I’d be unavailable, I still checked email the first chance I got.
I often feel like a moth drawn to the digital flame.
I’m so habitualized to my app-checking, scrolling behaviors that, even when I set up the conditions to not need them, I struggle to change course.
To help myself for the rest of the week, I moved my email and social media apps a few swipes away, to the digital desert of my phone’s 3rd home screen.
For the rest of the week, I enjoyed the quiet in my Airbnb, the communion with my fellow retreaters on Zoom, and many long walks around Columbus, Ohio’s lovely Short North neighborhood. (To read more about lessons I learned on this retreat, click here.)
Yet there was another type of quiet that descended on my life as the days passed…
I felt relief from not needing to check Instagram or Facebook or email “in case I missed something.”
I sat in my apartment and walked around Columbus and just… thought. And observed. And let myself be, a rare phenomenon in my busy work-mom life.
I sometimes thought of my email and social apps, bobbing around on my phone’s lonely 3rd screen. I was happy they were there. I didn’t want them at the forefront of my mind this week.
Which made me realize… just how much they were usually at the forefront of my mind.
I’ll admit it here and now: I’m insecure.
I worry that I’m not good enough, that my business isn’t successful enough, that I’m not a good enough mom or friend or contributing member of society.
This isn’t crippling. It’s just me telling you the baseline fears that run beneath my life. We all have them, in some form or another. But we rarely admit to them, which makes sense. (I mean, c’mon… We have to live lives and run businesses and manage families and that’s kinda hard if we’re all like, “I’m so insecure about all of this!!!” 😩😩😩 all the time.
But in order for you to understand why what I did next was so important, I need you to know that I’m insecure and I know it
Instagram kills me.
Not literally, of course. (That would make typing this very hard). But it kills my self-esteem.
Looking at curated versions of everyone’s business and motherhood and relationships picks at my scabs of insecurity every time.
Look at all the fun SHE is having with her kids.
Look at how many likes HER business post got – and she’s been doing this less time than you!
Look at that fun reel she made with her husband – I bet they have a better marriage than you do.
And on and on.
And yet, every day I would show up like a good little entrepreneur, determined that this time I wouldn’t let it get to me. I’d do my Instagram stories, communicate with my followers in DMs, and like and comment on the posts of friends and those I admired.
These were the things the business coaches told me I was supposed to do.
You’ve got to SHOW UP.
You’ve got to BE CONSISTENT.
You’ve got to do stories EVERY SINGLE DAY.
When it was gone for a week, why did I feel so free? Why did I feel more like myself? Why did I feel – even though I was not physically in the presence of my husband or kids – like a better mom and partner?
Instagram kills me… because it kills my sense of who I am.
Am I blaming Instagram? Absolutely not. I’m the user, the one clicking the app. Nobody is forcing me to do this.
I thought of those apps on my 3rd screen and had a wild (seeming) thought…
What if they weren’t on any screen? What if I took social media off my phone completely?
How will you run your business?
Who will follow you if you don’t post stories?
How will you communicate with the people who want to hear from you?
I let those fears settle in for a day or two.
And then I started to interrogate them.
Would my business really fail without social media on my phone?
I could still manage it on my laptop. I could still post and have a presence without having to carry that presence around with me in my pocket. I could still send emails to people on my list.
In fact, that’s exactly how I used to manage social media before there were smart phones! (Yes, I’m that old.) I remember sitting upstairs on my old desktop computer and connecting my digital camera with a USB cord in order to upload photos to my blog.
I’d already built a business this way. I knew how to do it.
I didn’t need social media on my phone to reach people. I could do it old school.
And so, on the last day of my retreat, that’s what I did.
I hovered my finger over those little icons and deleted them, one-by-one. Poof!
It’s been several weeks now and the results have been interesting.
A few days after removing those little buttons, I found myself in the ER for an appendectomy. Much to my chagrin, one of my first thoughts was… Oh no, I removed Instagram from my phone so I can’t post any of this on stories!!
Really, Rose?? Is it really important that your Instagram followers know you’re in the ER?
This is the effect social media can have on us. We feel a “need” to post all the details of our lives to keep people “updated.”
It’s why I’m more likely to know what an influencer ate for breakfast than what my best friends from college have been up to for the past six months.
In other words…
Having social media on my phone keeps me updated on all the wrong things.
I’m still experimenting with life without social media in my pocket, but I have to tell you…
I’m enjoying it.
I still have a social media presence, but if I want to post something or see what others are up to, I have to go to my laptop to do it. This forces me to seek out social media purposefully. It prevents the mindless “just checking” of my past.
Will I never, ever have social media on my phone again?
I don’t know. I’m open to bringing it back if it ever feels useful.
But I can guarantee it’s not a decision I will make lightly. Unlike when I first started using social media on my phone, I won’t bring it back because I think I’m “supposed to” or it’s what “all business owners do.”
I’m not all business owners. I’m me. And as such I get to make the decisions that make me feel like the best me. And for now, that means social media is a laptop-only experience.
Would you ever take social media off your phone? What comes up for you when you consider it?
I’d love for you to email me personally at [email protected] and let me know your thoughts.