Dig a moat.

Moats protect castles. They are deep, full of water, teeming with crocodiles, and maybe the skulls of our enemies. Ok, maybe skip that last part about the skulls. The gist is that moats protect the people in the castle from whatever they need protection from… except from maybe flying things like dragons…

Sometimes it’s a good thing to dig a moat around yourself. For your own special reasons – to keep out your own special evils.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I first started digging my own special moat one day in September 2018. The entire year had been a whirlwind of living in a weird little town while trying to kick butt at a marketing coordinator position (for which I was possibly under qualified – yet, I persisted) and doing a LOT of traveling. July rolled around and I knew there was little else I could do for the floundering company so I jumped ship and made my way to Europe to spend time with some of my favorite people. A couple of weeks after that I hopped on a plane and flew the opposite way around the world to visit my brother on the island of Kauai. The time change forced an early rise my first day so I laid out on the veranda to meditate and write. Basking in the stunning beauty of the island of Kauai was a given, but I was still aching a little inside from the crumbling of my dream job and the sudden relocation to a new state.

There is nothing more nourishing to the soul than to leave behind a soul sucking situation to see the world and spend time with some of the best humans. It gives you time to step out of survival mode and into reflection mode on what is working and not working in your life. I knew something was not working, but I hadn’t quite put my finger on it.

No sugar-coating here. I’m consistently insecure about the life I have created for myself (Don’t worry! My new therapist has me on an intense gratefulness practice now.). From the time I can first remember I have been insecure about my personal performance. I struggled in school. In making connections. Finding healthy living situations. And later in landing decent jobs. And what better place than social media to instantly know how well you are doing in life? You post something and within minutes the votes are in.

For individuals with a fan club this process is quite rewarding. They post a picture, a quote, or a story and then sit back and watch the number of hearts, thumbs, and views climb.

By the time I landed on Kauai that day in September I knew that social media and I were in some sort of fight, so I resolved to keep my head up and away from my phone as much as possible. My goals on the island were simple:

  • Bask in the sunshine
  • Squish sand between my toes
  • Eat as much pineapple as possible
  • Smell all the flowers
  • Listen to the ocean
  • Bring back a tattoo as a memento

I succeeded. I took few photos, posted to social media only during a predetermined time each day, and used my phone only to keep in touch with my boy friend who was 8 hours ahead of me.

I posted my token photo each day to IG with silly little captions and did what I always do when I post to social media: I think about the post all. day. long. Do people like it? Hate it? How many likes do I have? I should check. NO, I just checked 5 minutes ago. But maybe there is a comment I need to respond to so that there will be “engagement” on the post. And then there is plenty of scrolling scrolling scrolling scrolling scrolling.

The “screen time” settings on the iPhone are life changing. Not only did they make my social media obsession glaringly obvious, they also gave me the option of shutting down the apps when my allotted screen time had elapsed. My screen times stats alerted me to the fact that I had a part-time job using my phone. Yep, I was spending 30-35 hours each week actively using my phone.

Social media seems to make some unspoken promises that by using social media your life will be enhanced in some way, but it hasn’t seemed to work that way in my life.

Thanks to the masterclasses on my Calm app, I first heard about this “moat” concept from a psychologist named Shawn Achor who specializes in happiness. He says that the “moat” is your way of keeping undue stress out of your “castle”. Your moat might keep out work emails when you are at home, negativity from news channels in the evenings, stressful TV or movies on weekends, or maybe social media. Your moat will keep out anything you deem a poison to your wellbeing.

The one poison that I wanted my moat to protect me from was social media. I cannot seem to use social media appropriately. Me and social media do not have a healthy relationship. I would even go so far as to say that I might have some level of social media addiction. It’s been 5 months since deleting my social media accounts, and I STILL pick up my phone looking for something to scroll through. I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I’ll scroll through my photo library or my emails simply to have something to scroll through. Weird, right? It’s been 5 months since deleting my social media accounts and I still think about using social media. I miss having something to “check,” something to give me a little pick-me-up, or something to scroll through when I’m bored or need to numb.

I guess I thought that social media would make me feel better about myself. Or that I thought it would give me a sense of belonging. Those IG girls with their worshippers seem so happy when they post stories about “how grateful” they are for their “community”.

I guess you could say that I’m 5 months sober from social media.

Thankful for that moat…

Unsteady Girl

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