I hope everyone is having a great day!
Today’s post is a long one. I don’t do these quite often, so I hope you’ll forgive me for this little autobiography I’ve written here. I wanted to get this out of my chest for the longest time.
Social Media Fast
If you follow me on Instagram (@nmstylefolder) you know that I love creating content for my feed and I have a little OCD over my feed too. Yesterday I decided to do a short fasting on Instagram (I’m already doing a long-term fasting on Facebook; honestly I haven’t checked FB in months! It’s the most dormant app I have in my phone)
I have a few reasons for this IG fast. This year, 2019 has not been a great year for me. It isn’t even near “good”. But I believe that every bad thing that happens in your life, happens for a reason, and most of the time it happens so that a better alternative is on the way.
In the last 2-3 years (or since Instagram started stories) I had been posting basically every single detail about my life and through good and bad it still felt okay. It felt like it was the right thing to do, because even the sad memories I shared were relatable to many of my followers, and this way I started building closer cyber relationships with them. It felt good to be understood, to feel like you’re not alone. By sharing everything, I realized that I wasn’t alone. I realized that everyone else had problems too, if not bigger or worse than mine.
2019 started the same way, but within its first quarter, my life turned completely upside down. I should’ve seen this coming, but I wasn’t aware of it. We all think that “it’ll never happen to us”, but this year I realized that it can happen to us. And it did.
One of the reasons for my fast is that I want do a “self discovery”. I’m an IG-addict. I’m on it 24/7, even though I don’t post all the time like I did before, I constantly check others’ content. Recently, I realized how unhappy this was making me feel. From seeing a designer bag I can’t afford to buy to looking at perfect hour-glass figures that I don’t have (most of them have gone through surgery/treatments or are photoshopped or FaceTuned. I’m NOT talking about gym junkies!) Some might call it jealousy. No, it’s not. It’s not jealousy. Seeing all of these gave me an instant urge to have it all until I see the next image, where it can be someone else on their #vacay in Bali or Barcelona or somewhere exotic and #instagrammable, and then I realize that I can’t do that anytime soon.
I’m pretty sure you can relate to this too. On instagram you’re supposed to be on top of everything. You have to be on trend. You have to be consistent. I’ve listened to conversations (while working at photoshoots) on how people judge the authenticity of someone’s following by comparing it with the number of likes on a picture. I used to do that too. But instagram changes their algorithm every second, and it makes it so hard to come to a judgement this way. In the beginning of this year, I would always get between 400-800 likes per picture, but now it’s a confusing mix varying from 100-1000.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty upset when this started to happen. I wondered if I was doing something wrong. I wondered if it’s because I’ve been quite stationed in Colombo this year (I used to travel a lot in the past) or because I wasn’t doing much shopping to share with everyone and I don’t have as many new makeup products as I did last year.
Thinking hard on these lines, I realized that it can also be because Instagram is flooded with basically the SAME thing. Everyone is doing the same thing. Everyone is going to Capri or Mikonos or New York or Paris. Everyone is wearing wigs. Everyone is doing the same makeup tutorial. Everyone has eyebrows on fleek. Everyone is a blogger or an influencer (some are self-proclaimed influencers with very questionable content) I feel like Instagram has become a space for clones. This might not apply to small scale bloggers or influencers. But if you look at people with millions of followers, you will see basically the same kind of content. I realized that I was honestly getting tired of seeing the same Yeezys, the same Gucci belt and the same Dior saddle bag on everyone’s feed. I feel like you’re kind of under pressure to have those things too. Instagram has this vicious thing: “everyone’s doing it so you have to do it too” No one really says it out loud, but deep down, that’s the voice you sometimes hear in your head.
So for this “self-discovery”, I realized that I’m going to do it for myself first, and then for others. There are many of us (including the old ‘me’) that do things just for Instagram (#doitforthegram) Sometimes it was all about taking the best picture, instead of enjoying the moment that you’re sipping a cocktail, watching a beautiful sunset in a beach. You’re too worried about the lighting and the angle that you actually forget the original purpose of that trip to the beach. I’ve been there too. And true enough, it’s good to have a few good photographs as memories too. But I’ve come to realization that if you really want to live in the moment, you have to ditch your camera and your smart phone. Let your eyes be your camera, and let your soul be that follower that hits the like button. Enjoy your life like you did in the 90s when there was no social media and no wifi (I know many of my followers are born in the 90s so they might not even know what I’m talking about)
Recently I went on a trip outside Colombo with a friend and for the first time in a very long time it was all about enjoying the trip instead of taking the best instagram-worthy photographs. Apart from a few snaps we took, we ditched our smart phones for about 95% of the trip. And let me tell you, for the first time in a long time again I felt so good because I was actually able to savor every minute of the trip, instead of worrying if my pictures look good enough. I have so many memories in my head that I can’t put into a pictures or words and I think that life is all about that. It’s all about living it for yourself. Not living it #forthegram.
Ditching the smart phone and having a real conversation with someone is also quite refreshing these days. Here’s another thing I’ve noticed when I go out to eat. People spend about 10 minutes taking pictures of their food and while gobbling down the food, they’re scrolling on the phones. I’ve seen couples who hardly talked at restaurants. They’re on their phones in the cyber world. I wonder if they even taste what they’re eating. I used to do this too. Again, when I stopped doing it, I started to feel a lot better and happier, especially because I was able to have a conversation with my partner on a dinner date instead of checking my instagram. I started to finally live again. I started live in real life.
Another thing I realized was that I bought about 18 books last year from the book fair, but I finished only 2. I’m reading less these days because I preferred to be on social media instead. I was an avid reader in the past, and I feel like I’ve lost that person to social media. By doing this fast, I’m planning to spend more time on reading. Reading has always enlightened me. Reading was my hobby back when there was no Instagram. And I think I want that “me” again. She was happier and more content.
As for my life update, I’m in need of doing this self-discovery for the moment. I feel like I lost myself in the past few years, not just because of social media but because I gave up on so many things to work on something that didn’t deserve that much of dedication. I didn’t know this until there was nothing more left for me to work on. Earlier this year, I lost my mom to cancer. It was probably the hardest thing I went through my entire life. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that loss. Since then I haven’t been able to focus much on my career. I still feel quite lost at times, because everything happened way too fast that sometimes I find it hard to believe that such a lot of things changed within a few months.
Last year this time, I was still married and my mom was still alive. She was just diagnosed with cancer last September and she went through a surgery, which the doctors said was successful. For the next few months she was on medication, my husband and I made some agreements to make our marriage work and everything looked promising. Mom was fine for the next four months until the end of January when suddenly she couldn’t get up from the bed. It happened overnight, and she was completely fine the day before. The next scan showed that the cancer had spread at an alarming speed again. We couldn’t believe it. We didn’t want to, and my mom kept telling us she’ll fight for it and she will never give up. She was the strongest woman I’ve ever known. Five and a half weeks later, we lost her forever. In the meantime, I lost my marriage too. I’m not going into detail on this. It’s too personal and let’s just say it didn’t work out the way I expected.
All in all, these two losses affected me so much as it happened simultaneously. Sometimes it’s still hard to wrap my head around it. And for me to accept that it happened and to move on, because life goes on, I need to be alone. I’m not trying to isolate myself completely, but I just want to shut the noise around me. There is just too much noise around me with everyone telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. Unless you have lost a loved one in your life, you’ll never understand that you need to take your own time to move on, or even to think about moving on. Six months have gone since my mom passed away and the pain is still the same. All the dreams and goals I had for my marriage are gone and I just have this indescribable emptiness that I don’t know how to fill. I’m fortunate though, that I have my friends and people who genuinely love me around me. It’s because of them that I’m able to take a step forward today and really start to move on with my life.
I don’t know exactly where my life is directing me. I know that everything that happened in the past keeps strengthening me too. I plan to take baby steps to rebuild my life, and the first thing I will do is finding myself again. The woman who loved to read, who loved to travel and paint, and dress well. The woman who was once a fashion designer and had big dreams to be a top designer in the world. This doesn’t mean I will give up on my makeup career. I will find a balance to work on both.
Hence why I thought I will take a break from everything and find some inner peace. I need to restore myself. I need to rejuvenate my soul. I will share the updates with you, all in good time…