- Jennifer Cruse
HOW TAKING A BREAK FROM SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED MY PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE
Pretty catchy title, right? Perhaps a little dramatic in the big scheme of things, but from where I'm sitting the title makes perfect sense. I'll explain. So sit back, relax and enjoy this ride of a story on why getting rid of social media changed my perspective on life.
So, let's set the stage.... Growing up I had dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. I watched Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm win the United States World Cup in 1997 and wished more than anything that I could have been in their shoes.
Those dreams of being a professional soccer player were quickly shattered after a torn meniscus in high school and then another injury in college playing soccer. After the injury and months of recovery I decided to channel my energy and efforts into something new: Modeling. I signed with a modeling agency and had the unique opportunity to travel all over the world and work with some of the most talented photographers and makeup artists.
It wasn't all glitz and glamour though. There is definitely an ugly side to the industry that no one wants to talk about.
Photoshoots vary from anything before sunrise to way after sunset. You spend a lot of time posing in crazy positions to get the perfect shot. Not to mention, the unrealistic expectations of how your body, face, eyebrows, everything...look. It's unrealistic.
What really took me to the edge was the unrealistic expectations of who and what I needed to be on social media.
And this is where the story really heats up....
So why did I decide to permanently delete my Instagram profile with the blue check mark, over 299k+ followers and a pretty decent amount of cash flow from promotional opportunities?
Here are a few reasons why I deleted my Instagram account and what I learned in the process of doing so:
1. I learned that myself worth isn't and will never be based on my social media profile OR the number of followers, comments or likes I have.
The truth is if you put your identify and purpose in to caring what others think about you, you end up losing yourself in the process. Does it really matter what complete strangers think of you?
What I found out is that when I put my energy and focus into my relationships with my family, friends and the work I do, I’m a lot happier.
2. I found the real ME.
Sounds like the name of a new hit song by Justin Bieber, but it's true. I learned to love myself again.
I think Bill Maher sums it up perfectly in this quote:
[We now] live two lives. There’s the real us, the person in a kitchen or a bar, who speaks like a human with trusted friends, and then there’s what I call our avatar. Our avatar looks and sounds like us, but it’s not really us. It’s the persona we adopt in any sort of public sphere, which now includes your followers on Twitter and Instagram, and thousands of friends on Facebook.
And bad things go viral, so everyone fears any misstep that could cause America’s pearl-clutcher's to point and scream at you like the invasion of the body snatchers. Think of all the people who have lost job offers due to [an unflattering] picture of them.
Americans today crave any kind of authenticity because our avatars are just so full of [crap]…. Everyone’s social media persona is now like a candidate running for office—holding babies, doing photo opps...Facebook should be called Twofaced book.
For me, taking a break from social media helped me to regain my life back. 3. I had more time to focus on what truly matters in life.
How do you want to be remembered? I had to ask myself that after I got rid of my social media presence. The answer for me, although complex in nature, was to make a difference in other people's lives, especially young women. Instead of spending hours on end monitoring my social media, I had time to do things that actually made a positive impact on not only myself, but my community.
One of my most proud accomplishments was coaching an under 16 youth soccer team. I was able to be a positive role model and set a good example for these young women by sharing my story and the lessons I learned with them. There is so much pressure in high-school and I can't imagine having social media when I was there age. It was a truly rewarding experience.
In addition, I was able to spend time with my family. I made new friends, volunteered, trained for a triathlon, got promoted at work.... the list goes on and on. With all that newfound time on my hands, I was able to focus and work on myself. This time also helped me to identify the people in my life that there were there for the right reasons.
That's the funny thing about getting rid of social media, you find out who your real friends are.
Lastly, for all of those of you who are reading this, I want you to know:
You don't need social media or complete strangers to validate you to make you whole.
Be kind to yourself and to others.
And if you're considering deleting or taking a break from social media, I highly suggest doing so! Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I look forward to sharing more stories with you.