So, I've recently deleted the Instagram app off of my phone, and I'm already pretty sure it's the best thing I've done for my mental health all summer.
Last week was a big week for me. I stopped drinking coffee (I KNOW WHO AM I), and deleted all social media apps off of my phone. Well, with the exception of Pinterest, because at least for me, that is one social media app that is helpful and inspirational, in terms of productivity.
A quick note on the coffee. So basically, I realized that I am extremely dependent of coffee; it's my go-to. Anytime I feel I need more energy, anytime that I feel good, anytime I don't feel so good and need to add a little bounce to my step, and all of the times of the day in between— I run to coffee. For years I've drank coffee in this way (probably drink it more than actual water), but lately I've been in this little mental fog and it 's time it clears up a bit.
For those of you who just read that and thought: umm, Elyssa, will you even be Elyssa without coffee? Umm, the answer is yes and no. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure this is only a little hiatus and a temporary thing. Also, I haven't completely strayed away from caffeine. Instead of drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day, I now drink about 3 cups of black tea and a cup of camomile before sleeping. So, I actually don't know what is worse, because my caffeine intake is much higher but the jitters and fog have lifted. Also, I treated myself this past Sunday to a coffee from a local coffee shoppe as a treat for having self control all week (a new concept for me), and ohhh let me tell you! I'm pretty sure I orgasmed at the first smell. Oh, and I definitely orgasmed at the first sip. Coffee just melts me in ways no man ever will ;)
Instagram. Yeah, you read those first few sentences right. I DELETED INSTAGRAM.
BECAUSE I'M OVER IT
AND GUESS WHAT
Deleting Instagram has truly been life-changing. I know, I know. That sounds both cheesy and dramatic, especially for something that's as 'small' as deleting an app off of a home screen. Well, FYI incase you haven't yet noticed— I'm both cheesy and dramatic.
I didn't plan this. I didn't wake up one day and say I was going to delete all media on Monday AM, nor did I plan on randomly canceling out coffee. Instead, Pinterest planned it for me. One of those funky days last week while sitting on the couch, after switching to pinterest when I got bored of scrolling through instagram, and while simultaneous to waiting for a commercial to end on a hulu show, I came across this quote that really hit. It hit so hard that it instantaneously made me put down my phone, and finally say "I've had enough." I had enough of my funk. I had enough of knowing what everyone else on the web was doing in the moment. I had enough of aimlessly scrolling just because it was convenient and I could flip my brain off. I had enough of passing time without being productive. I had enough of being addicted to this device.
I simply had enough, and Pinterest knew it.
This is the quote I found that shifted everything, and brought me back to life.
I wish I knew who to quote for that one. Isn't it gooood?!
There's also this one. After pinning the last one to my "words to remember" board, this one popped up, and was the real cherry on top. It was like that last wave that knocks you down in the ocean after being knocked down by the first couple in the set, but this is the one you give in to, and decide afterwards to get out of the water for a few minutes to regroup.
These two quotes combined were more than words, they moved me...
... they moved me all of the way up and off of the couch... all of the way to a barstool about 15 feet away at the the kitchen island...
(Clearly it didn't have that huge an effect on me— it didn't make me decide to start running again or anything like that— but it did have an internal effect. A mental one; a gut one).
It wasn't purely these two quotes that prompted me to hit that "trash" button after hovering over the Instagram app, it was a few things. I'll list them here. Well, it would be a lie if I said there were only cons to keeping the app, because that's so not true. For months I've debated with myself whether I want to keep the app or not, because I know there's some pros, too.
So here's both.
(bear with me)
Pros (purple). Cons (green). Links (blue).
○ Instagram as a platform to share and spread awareness. It's a platform that is very popular among generation, and one through which visual information can so quickly be shared. In the last few months especially, Instagram has served as a sort of portal of information. It is a place to share raw opinions, perspectives and analytical views. It's a place to spread information on not only what is going on the the world, but links ways to take an active part and lend a hand. I felt that if I deleted Instagram, I would be out of the loop on a bunch of big things happening around me. I felt I would lose this platform which has lead me to further research and widen my perspective.
In rebuttal, yes, it is a platform by all means, however, it would be extremely lazy of me to keep using the excuse that I would be 'out of the loop' if I deleted Instagram. Yes, it is so nice to hear about news from my own generation, but it's certainly not the only way. Some alternative solutions to making sure we are caught up to date, are:
CNN's 5 Things daily newsletter. 5 top headlines a day, with short paragraphs about each one, with additional links for further information. I subscribed to this years ago, and used to read the email during my lunch break at school everyday, or while sitting and stretching, waiting for class to start.
Daily Skimm. This is something I was recommend to subscribe to during my days of preparing to compete for the Distinguished Young Woman of America (oh yeah, fun fact! I was once the Distinguished Young Woman of Rhode Island! Yes, that's a thing. No, it's not a pageant). It uses humor to lay it all out. It covers world news, money, well, picks, COVID-19, and the 2020 Election (from a non-partisan stand). Fun fact, they also have a a couple podcasts!
○ Instagram as a platform to meet new artists. In terms of collaboration, Instagram is a great platform because once again, it's designed to share. It's so easy to click on somebody who is tagged in another's post, to credit artists, to share artists' work... it's truly never been easier. On Instagram I've been able to find dance artists I would LOVE to work with one day. It's also the place I discovered my dream NGO who soon I will be starting to work with and travel for! Instagram has also made the world seem smaller and less intimidating...
This I actually don't have a rebuttal for. It's truly a great platform to discover artists and share their work.
○ Instagram as a platform to keep up with friends and old colleagues. Recently I deleted Facebook because I realized it wasn't for me. It was filled with my mom's generation of friends posting about their lives, etc. As mentioned above, though, Instagram is probably the most popular social media site for my generation. It's where all of my friends post about their whereabouts; newest ambitions, endeavors and achievements; and (so cliché, get ready) where they're having brunch (I know, that one was low for me). Instagram allows us to keep 'in touch' with people we maybe once knew, maybe met a couple of times, or 'close friends' we can share funny IG stories with. Great.
I'm going to use a mini-story as my rebuttal. The story speaks for itself...
A few weeks ago, after returning home from a week away in Cape Cod, my dog sprained her back left ankle. For those of you who don't already know our sweet Maple (not just a stage name for the blog— all my animal's names are all original), she's a 13 year old golden retriever. Yeah, she's a little granny dog now. Well, she was feeling really good the day we went to pick her up from our cousins, and decided she wanted to get down with the younger dogs... that is.. until getting down literally took her down. Oh but don't worry, she's already all healed up since then :) She truly lived her best life as a queen for a couple of weeks with my mom and I playing her servants, carrying her all around from indoors to outdoors to pee, learning to chef so she could feast only as a true bougie dog would, and getting our 24/7 attention. And I mean 24/7. No sleep for the wicked. Yeah, when I said our little attention-loving pup thrived, she thrived, and here's some photographic evidence, even though our Maplequeen looks extremely #unimpressed by our efforts.
Anyways, my mom and I were sitting down on the couch, debating whether to bring Maple to the vet in the morning, when I randomly started to share that XYZ's dog also has a sprained ankle, but it's her front right paw. XYZ is literally just some girl who is a few years older than me, and I used to watch at dance competitions growing up. I doubt she know me, we've never talked, and I don't think we ever would even if we were in the same space again. I've just always followed her on IG since we used to compete, and apparently still do. Well, she lives in Manhattan, and according to her IG stories, went away for some time with another dance friend to Long Island to beach it. When she returned, her little pup sprained his ankle! Oh no! But she had it wrapped up and was snuggling him and catering to him just like we were with out Maple.
Cute story, right?! Wrong! WHY the heck do I even know this much about this girl and her whereabouts and her dog's sprained front right paw that I've never even talked to before!?!?
IDK, YOU TELL ME.
I went on an unfollowing spree after this, because as soon as the story left my mouth and my mom questioned why I knew so much, I realized it's just fed to me. I know it because I aimlessly scroll through Instagram, and pass story after story like this one.
Now, there are a few other reasons that drove me away from Instagram, like FOMO (also a new concept for me), or being made to feel unproductive by constantly consuming other's public productivity, which I know I also could be found guilty.
I found myself posting, without knowing why. Forever I've been confused by how I personally want to use Instagram's platform. Yes, I'm an artist, but I don't feel like my art is anything special or different, in which it needs to be shared. I love seeing others' shared news stories, but I don't know enough to post any of my own; I only share others'. I blog, yes that is indeed what you are reading now, but I'm not an Instagram blogger by any means. I'm not consistent, and also that's not my aim.
Once, during my senior year of high school, I posted everyday on Instagram. I originally started doing so to savour home, because I planned on darting off across seas as soon as I was set free. That, was my favorite time I've ever used Instagram. Posting everyday made me consider the small things, and romanticize for myself the mundane. It was the most real-life Instagram had ever felt for me, and likewise was the most real representation of me it had ever been. I didn't post for likes, nor care how many I got. I responded to comments, but didn't need them as affirmation or validation for what I was doing / posting about. It was purely for me.
That documentation is why I will never fully deactivate my account (because I don't want to lose the last 7 years worth of documentation of single moments in time), but I am going forward in deleting the app off of my phone. It's a promise to myself to be more productive in my days; to consume nobody else's daily stories, but rather to focus on my own.
After being moved and heavily influenced by those two quotes above, I decided that it's time to live MY life again. It's time to be all consumed by MY days, by MY conversations with friends over Monday morning brunch (because brunching on Sunday doesn't make us feel like midlife moms who brunch on Mondays and chat over mimosas), and be interested again in what I'm truly interested in and not by what Instagram is suggesting I should be.
Since deleting Instagram, a few things have happened that wouldn't have otherwise, had I continued to feed myself with others' content.
Before deleting the app, I made a little chart to objectify what I was interested in. Knowing me, you can bet it looked a little chaotic because after all, I am Elyssa, and my mind always has three thoughts going at once. (My old flatmate used to say that living with me was like living with me, and the 15 people in my head). (Hah, not concerning at all). After deleting the app, I again sat down and made a another chart. Perhaps it was already because I made a chaotic one the first time around that I was able to clarify the second. Or, perhaps it was because I only had my heart to listen to, and not the influence of everybody else's influence feeding my brain.
The sketch went from an original clutter of webs, to three single lines with three simple goals, which included: learning to fly a helicopter, working both in the field and on the board for United Nations (in which I'll be flying my own helicopter to the sites, you know, dreaming big), and dancing—sharing my passion through teaching, creating, hosting a flashmob and all that jazz.
Since deleting Instagram, I've applied (once again) to a dreamy Masters program in Australia that starts in February. I've been procrastinating this since the beginning of July when apps opened up, because I lost the confidence in myself to do so. Here, I'll learn how to fight for human rights, while also learning how to fly!!! I've also since then committed to traveling with MindLeaps for one month this fall to North Macedonia, where we will strive to bridge underserved youth together through dance, when everything else in life may be barricading, including native language.
Also hello, not to mention the drastic drop in screen time. LOL I think I was approaching about 5 to 5.5 hours a day on my phone, and now my screen time is back down to under two hours (not including the additional hours I've piled up since starting Killing Eve)...
Sooooo, this is my story for deleting Instagram-- one social media platform-- off of my phone. This is my story about how detaching myself from the rest of the world helped me to focus on, well, you guessed it... myself.
My confidence in myself is slowly returning, as well as my patience and productivity. I've strayed back away from relying on the instant gratification I used to receive via Instagram to validate how 'cool' what I am doing is. I know I'm cool ;)
I am posting this, knowing that it is extremely subjective to my own experience with Instagram. However, I am also posting this knowing that no one ever talks about it being 'okay' to take a break from social media every once in a while in order to regroup and refocus.
So, this is me telling you that it's okay. You do you, and that means whatever it has to to you, and that's what's important.
Take the time, take the care, and do what you need to do to find what makes you glow on the inside :) because the world needs you and your glow :)
Currently, it's 10:25 pm in North Truro, Massachusetts, and I am one thought-filled, grateful, wonderstruck, and present Elyssa.
For reference on my location, every year my 'family' (me, my mom, LC and her family, and other family friends) all gather together at a beach house for one week-- Saturday to Saturday.
Yes, we all live in Rhode Island, the 'ocean state' and practically spend our whole summers at the beach anyways, but the spread out summer never compares to the week long adventures of carefree living all together under one roof. Living all together 24/7 definitely has its challenges, especially when combined we house every political party, non-political party, opinion, sexuality (me, that's me, I personally make up for anything other than hetero), personality type (I'm a campaigner and my mom is a consul), morning people / night owls / both, ages, food restrictions and allergies, and the list goes on. However, every year we continue to somehow, just somehow make it work.
This year, we decided to leave little Rhodey (wooahhh), crossed 3 hours over the state border (yes, don't worry, we all tested negative this week for COVID before our grand departure), and ventured over to the Cape for a week.
Originally, I started this blog post by diving right into the night's events and realizations. However, just now I briefly took a moment to scroll up through my photos from today, and decided that this post deserves to begin from its truest beginning—last night— because today, well, today has just been a day.
This is the first photo in my camera roll from today, and I'm just going to drop this here.
This photo was taken after my mom shut the car's trunk door on my head this morning while packing the car, which, could have been prevented if I got my shit together and packed last night. However... my shit was definitely not together. It was totally, completely, and very literally in fact not together.
My original plan yesterday was to come home from work and finish packing, but, hah, that plan was sharply interrupted the moment I decided to have dairy at work, and had to pass off my shift to somebody else so I could go home and shit everything internal, out. Like I said, my shit was definitely not together.
...TMI? No such thing.
Also, I'm going to take this moment to put it out there and mention that yes, I am still very much allergic to roses. Last night, by the time my body allowed me to finally get up and figuratively get my shit together, I decided that my first action should be to shower, because typically, showers are game-changing. A little rejuvenation goes a long way, and it was something I hoped would ultimately speed the packing process up.
After the shower, I was so excited to try out this new facial toner I bought the other day at Trader Joe's, and went a little spray crazy... my next big mistake of the night. Clearly, I have selective reading as I do listening, and misread "rose" for "rose hip," which are very different and have very different effects on my body.
This probably takes us to about 11 pm now, which was around the time I rediscovered that yes, I am very much indeed still allergic to roses. Very much indeed. The swelling was instantaneous, as were the tingles. TIGNLY SENSATION!
This is also about the time when I gave up the thought that the packing was going to happen last night, and instead popped some tylenol, set my alarm and went to bed. It's also when I decided that it's time to start listening again to my body, feed it foods that it is able to process and digest, and stop compromising myself and allergies. This is also why our neighbors heard me scream "OUW" when I dropped to the ground when the trunk door found my head... like I said, this allllll could have been prevented if I just found some self control and refused the gosh darn dairy. But, moving on.
Okay, now I think it's time to skip back ahead. Nothing significant really happened during the day that I feel like noting here, other than driving 3 hours to the Cape, stopping halfway at The Flying Bridge Seafood— a waterfront seafood restaurant— for lunch in Falmouth (FYI: very fabulous and very delicious), and stopping at a liquor store (the one thing I was responsible to buy this week besides my own veggie food was margarita mix, and what did I forget? you guessed it. the margarita mix) where I invested in my first shaker. Exciting!
In a later post, I will further explain the depths of this bar, along with the drinking games we play throughout the week. Remember how I briefly mentioned we are all very different, with different personalities and opinions? Well, sometimes we clash, and those times that we do, we make drinking games out of them, with daily prompts... another post for another day.
Every year we spend our nights down here outside under the stars; drinking, smoking cigars, trying some gummies (we're in Massachusetts so I can legally write this), conversing, joking on each other and laughing, before taking the night indoors for a game of choice. Tonight, I opted out of the games and instead planted my bug-bitten bootay on this couch (with my mom now sleeping on my lap), to write this next portion of the post. Staring up into the night tonight left me wonderstruck, and with so many little threads of thought.
Stars have always reminded me of people. How, there are so many people surrounding our life. One day they appear, maybe stay for awhile, and then they carry on again on their own way. How, until we form a connection with them, they are strangers to us. They are always there, whether we notice them or not. How, they're also not there whether we notice them or not because perception is subjective, and each star has its own path and journey.
When I was younger, my mom always used to hold me and point out the North Star. She tried explaining to me how we're all sort of united under it, and that no matter where we physically are in the world, it is something we can all look up and see; it's one of the universe's constant promises for us. I never really understood what she meant by that, at least not until tonight when I looked up into the night sky and saw my past, my present and future among the stars.
In London, whenever we would go up onto our roof, where we would sing until the dusk faded and into night, we would point to stars and determine amongst ourselves what planet it might be, as it was too bright to be an ordinary star. Sometimes, after several weeks would pass between roof dates, this conversation turned into deciding whether it was the same star / planet, or whether it was another one that shifted into its place. To see that star, we had to look out, but if we looked up, no matter the month, week, night or day, we were always always always located directly under the big dipper constellation.
I continuously processed this reminder as simply knowing that we were sat under the big dipper constellation in the sky, but it never had any other sort of significant meaning... until I left, almost two months passed by, and until I noticed the very same constellation in the sky, 3,266 miles away from where I saw it last. Tonight the big dipper was located up above and to my left. It was in this moment that I suddenly understood what my mom had been trying to explain to me all along.
This time around, I didn't just see the big dipper; I saw London. I knew that under that those stars to my left, was our little lovely Malden Crescent house, near little lovely Chalk Farm station, in the not so little but extremely lively & lovely London. Before seeing the dipper, I had noticed a significantly bright star to my right, and once I connected myself to the dipper, I realized that the star was the same one that we used to sit on our little rooftop in London and wonder what planet it might be.
Never before have I been one to comprehend directions really well. Physically, yes, all it only takes is being somewhere once to know exactly where I am and how to navigate myself afterwards, but cardinally, no. But tonight, I knew exactly where I was (literally, not figuratively); Europe is due EAST, land-America is due WEST, and that star pointed me NORTH.
Looking back up at the sky, I felt myself in relation to the world. I knew where to look to find the stars my friends were somewhere under. I knew where to look to find the stars that were lighting up the sky over the place I dream to be next. I noticed the stars I lay under under here with my root people. I felt this intense connection to the sky, while also feeling completely lost.
Several times, shooting stars passed us by up in the sky. Some were quick flashes, while some we could follow for a few moments until they disappeared among the rest of the still, shining stars. At some point, someone told us to wish, but I realized I couldn't. I'm at this strange place in life where I'm someplace I once wished to be, and now don't know what's next. I know I can't wish for any one person or group of people, because right now we're all on different journeys for ourselves. This time has also been useful for practicing good habits for myself, ones which bring joy and satisfaction without relying on others.
Looking up at the stars suddenly brought to mind my own map of human lights in my life, and I flashed back through people who have come in and faded out. I thought back to them, and about the times at which we entered each others' lives and the significance and impact we each had on each other.
People pass through life at such precious moments in time, for always uncertain amounts of time until later certain. Even then, the time can always be resumed, and paths can cross again.
Some people in our lives, like stars in the sky, have stronger lights and greater influences depending on the time the enter, and the purpose they served. Some, on the other hand, their purpose is irrelevant, but their ever constant presence is what we know. Those are our root people, those are the ones who, though endless time can pass by without physically seeing each other, we know where they are always, and that they will always be there. We are also that star for them. Some, we may be that star without knowing it. Sometimes, too, we are a stronger light than we know ourselves to be.
Personally, I feel fortunate to know my lights. I feel fortunate to know I have also been a light before for someone; oh what an illuminating feeling. I feel fortunate to know whose light, when close to me, only adds strength to mine and together, our lights become one aura; a rather radiant, unbreakable one.
Some people call it love.
Soo, I don't know about you, but I plan on living until I'm 103 years old, in order to be the woman of three centuries, of course. Right now, at the mere age of 22 (and a half, if you counts halves), I have absolutely no idea where I'm heading next. I do not know who is going to come in and out of my life, nor whose lives I am going to ever so graciously flow in and out of. Looking to the future, not knowing who will come in and out next scares me. However, I do trust in everyone who is apart of my life now, and who has been a part of molding me into who I am today. To be utterly honest, I'm not yet ready to move on from the people who lived with me under that great big dipper.
I think I'm holding on...
In the last two months, I've turned down a couple of dates, and have avoided getting to know new people on a deeper level than I could. I have though, taken this opportunity to rebuild and strengthen the friendships I have here at home, which has been so extremely heartwarming and reassuring.
Looking up at the shooting stars last night, I didn't wish for any one person, place or thing, nor did I wish to be anywhere I wasn't, with anyone I wasn't already with.
I wished, though, to remember. I wished to be filled with gratitude, and to be open to this transition time.
I wished to trust.
I remembered the people I used to live with under the that great big dipper; they're some of my favourites ever. I remembered the times I dreamed to be where I am today, figuratively. I remembered where I was last year at this time, literally, and the thoughts and fears that flooded my mind then when I looked up into the stars. I remembered how much can change in one year's time.
I remembered to be curious, and I remembered to be brave. Above all, though, I remembered to be kind, and that with genuine kindness comes strength.
Lastly, I remembered a list, which has been tacked above my bedpost since I wrote it, that I made in January as a visual, tangible, objectified reminder of what my heart desired at that point in time. It reads,
Tonight, I looked up at the sky and trusted that with time I will understand what that list means, as I have come to grasp that it is not very literal, but really quite metaphorical. 8 months into 2020, and I've found the AUS, the PERSPECTIVE, and the PASSION. COLOR is only now beginning to reveal itself slowly, but as for PARIS... I have no idea yet what that could mean, and what I need to find.
Lastly, I remembered that everything is temporary, and that's a good thing! We have choices, especially in choosing whose lights we let shine brightest. We are all just bodies inhabiting this wild, wild earth, which is a part of a much larger universe. Sometimes, we can remember that and learn to take life a little less seriously.
All of my stories are non-fiction, as well as the people in them. However, I have given each and every one a stage name with careful thought and detail, because all of the people in my stories are just that fabulous.