If you’re anything like me, you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Ok, my small-town-Arkansas-born-and-raised mom always uses that phrase and I’m not entirely sure what it means. It’s actually sort of morbid written down, so pretend like I did not just say that. What I mean by it though is that when I see something not working or something I don’t like, I quit it altogether. For instance, social media was mentally and creatively exhausting me last year. I read some article about how much time is wasted on Facebook and it appalled me. So I gave it up. I told myself freshman year of college I would not use it. After the initial withdrawal symptoms (and I’m not being dramatic; they are real and embarrassing and make you realize how stupidly attached to and dependent on an app you can be), I felt a new clarity of mind. It’s sort of like that moment when you’ve spent a couple of months striding on pavement in the shadows of looming skyscrapers, so comforting and beautiful in their manmade glory, but also stifling and stuffy when you go to the ocean and feel the sun’s warmth melt on your face and taste the salt-laden air and see a horizon that you cannot find the end of and hear the ocean gently kiss the sand over and over as it ebbs back and forth. It’s incomparable. But it feels so right.
That clarity lasts for awhile, but then it fades like a pair of blue jeans. I’d go home on a weekend and find out one friend was six months pregnant, another had gotten engaged, and two were moving across the country. Inevitably, people started texting me about direct messages they sent me weeks prior that I never responded to. I’d find out I missed a party because I was invited to the Facebook group but never saw it. I quickly recognized that quitting social media completely in 2017 meant a sort of drop out of Earth. And I hate that. But this is the world and it’s a fact. So I began to check it sometimes. But then I would spiral into a half self-loathing, half conspiracy-theorizing internal monologue that went something like this: “Olivia, you have no self control and you’re just like everyone else and you’re giving into what the seductive media and marketers want you to do and you’re drinking the kool-aid and…”
It was awful. I began to think, which when done truthfully always leads to a face-to-face with Reality herself. Maybe the issue was not social media, but me? Perhaps I thought that by ridding myself of it completely I would rid myself completely of my proclivities to compare and envy and compete and loathe myself/others for what I/they lack/have? I think I did. And coming to that epiphany felt horrible. But now that it’s been a while and I’ve had more time to process, I’m not so hard on myself. I can even laugh at myself! My self-control and ability to quit something cold turkey is admirable and a skill that serves me well in a lot of ways. But it also makes me judgy and harsh and pretentious if I don’t keep it in check and evaluate the root of my motives often.
I still don’t have every social media app downloaded on my phone. But I check my DMs and notifications every once in awhile. Occasionally I will search on my laptop to check the profile of a friend or a designer I like. I do not miss the time or moments I lose, but I do miss the creative outlet it can provide and getting updates from my friends outside of the States. Eventually, I may get back on the social media train fully. I don’t know quite yet. But the bottom line is that it’s okay if I want to stay off of social media to get to know myself and it’s okay if I eventually decide to get back on to stay more connected to my friends. Neither is better and both can contribute to a full life. But there is grace for where I am in this present moment. I’m learning that being an extremist is difficult but manageable, too, as long as I consciously remember to love and give myself some room to evolve along the way.
It’s okay that I want to go vegan and it’s okay if I never have the guts to.
It’s okay that I want to be a person of peace and it’s okay that sometimes I get angry.
It’s okay that I want to eliminate fast-fashion from my life and it’s okay if I like a dress from Urban.
It’s okay that I want to be in love and it’s okay that I’m scared of being in love.
It’s okay to be angsty. It’s okay to be skeptical. It’s okay to change your mind.
You don’t have to take a definitive stand on one side or another to know who you are and where you stand as a human being. You don’t have to choose an extreme. You can, and it can be wonderful, but you don’t have to. I’m learning and I hope you will too, that there’s worth in both sides and there’s beauty in being on the border.