I lean back as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
I read that and I thought, with such heartbreaking truth: I AM WASTING MY LIFE.
Oh, yes, on the outside it seems I’m taking life by the horns—living abroad, writing books, teaching meditation courses I love. And all of those things are amazing. But the majority of my headspace is taken up with worrying: about deadlines, and keeping tabs on all my side hustles as a coach, and career, and livelihood, and a LOT of my brain thinks about social media: what to post, when to post it, how to post it, how people did or did not respond and is that a reflection on the future of my career / business and does the fact that no one liked that post mean I should hang it all and quit this thing entirely—stop writing, stop teaching, stop trying to have a brand and a presence and just go back to working at Starbucks and pretend all of this was a dream? Because maybe it is. Just a dream. And I feel fake posting and is this fake, am I fake, god I can’t write, I can’t think—
I am wasting my life.
I’ve come to realize that social media—though a seemingly necessary evil in the author’s life—cannot be “necessary” for me right now. Not if I want to actually write any books. Or dream up new ones. Or be grounded and mentally stable at all.
This is the big one. This is the thing that is really stealing my life force. Stealing my life. I had to get honest with myself, as embarrassing as it was, how “I’m just gonna post this real quick” would turn into an hour of my perfectionism going haywire, and my self-hatred meter rising dangerously high, and then, of course, there was the inevitable comparison-fest and then the fraud police gremlins coming for tea and staying awhile. I had to be real with myself that it all just feels gross and that, let’s be honest, my book sales suggest none of it’s working anyway. So why the hell am I doing this?
I’ve recently moved abroad, embarking on a grand adventure around the world, and it occurred to me that I’d miss out on the whole darn thing if I only saw it through the lens of how I would post it, package it, and, ultimately, sell it. And I saw that I was in the black hole of death and that, curiously enough, THERE ARE NO BOOKS DOWN THERE.
So I’m going on a major hiatus. I’m not sure how long, but I’m thinking at least a year, maybe forever. I will no longer be using social media for personal reasons (my husband is taking over everything to do with our adventure abroad—Insta, blog, newsletter). I’ll jump on when I have a new book out to spread the word to do right by the book and all I’ve done to birth it, and I’ll tweet the link for a new blog (Just once! No more hustling for my worth) and when registration is open for a new class I’m teaching, but I won’t be sharing anything else. (Ha! Hyperlinks – can’t get away from ‘em). All my accounts will be purely for professional purposes and even then, the use of them will be slim. There will be no constant blasts of “read this!” “take this course!” “buy this!” “do this!” I’ll dutifully make sure the info is out there, and then I will retreat. My spaces to share will be blogs and newsletters—personal, occasional, and more real connections. Epistolary flares into the night, if you will. And the shift is that I’m writing them for me, but you are welcome to join if you wish.
It’s so interesting, the resulting panic I felt at not being able to share things or be in the loop, or the fear of being forgotten or losing things I’d built up…it’s crazy, the strangle-hold social media has on us, especially creatives who are charged with sharing their work with the world in this way. (If your curious about your own relationship to social media, I—of course—created a worksheet to explore this for my writers quite some time ago. You can access it on my Inspiration Portal).
Hear me: when I read that Wright poem, I felt a quickening. Then I did walking meditation, and by the end of that meditation, I knew: I’m out. I’m done. I have wasted my life and I only get this one. I want it back. I want to be present for my life. To be here. To live it.
Come what may. Whatever is lost will be worth it. But I suspect what is gained will be far greater.
It’s hard to make some of these creative decisions for ourselves. I’m a bit scared, to be honest. Of isolation, of being out of the loop, and of seeing things I’ve built maybe fall apart (or maybe realize that all that hard work of social media stress was for nothing!). I took a picture the other day of this beautiful field near the house I’m staying at in England and it was SO WEIRD knowing I wasn’t going to be posting it on Instagram. You could probably write an entire doctoral thesis on that feeling alone. Do you get this feeling too? Might be a good time to have a look at it, if you do.
What magic can happen if we stop wasting our lives?
Breathe. Write. Repeat.