It’s All Vanity: Reflecting on WITHDRAW

For me, this week’s word was tricky. WITHDRAW is a detractive action, which I find utilizes more brainspace than the ones that challenge me to more specifically engage.

I was so lost, in fact, that I turned to my trusted thesaurus to set me straight:

remove
extract
leave
retract
backtrack

Hrm.

Nothing sparked.

Next was quick image search to see if that would yield better results. Alas, aside from a brief foray down an illustrated-gay-furries-pornography rabbit hole (hah! pun unintended), I remained unsure about my intention for the week. I’m not the best at “winging it” but it seemed that WITHDRAW left me little choice.

Josh returned home for six days so the idea of WITHDRAWING into my own personal world seemed unlikely. And yes, when we’re together we tend to fold into a shared little world but that always feels more liberating than diminishing. I relax when he’s home; I feel my spirit exhale and expand. So no withdrawing on a personal level.

I wish I could say that at work I withheld judgement, but a significant portion of my hours on the clock were spent analyzing the anecdotes and behaviors of the students I met with. So no dice there.

It wasn’t I felt the stir of self-preservation that I realized what I needed to remove. Starting early Monday morning, my Facebook feed brought news of the first round of insane Executive Orders, downgraded democracy, and unnecessary budget cuts. The majority of my friends (thankfully) expressed fear, outrage, defiance. As I scrolled through pages and pages of articles, rants, and confusion, my insides twisted. I could actually feel my blood pressure rising and shoulders tensing. Negative emotions increased exponentially — anxiety swelled, fear expanded, hopelessness skyrocketed.

Now, I significantly decreased my interaction on Facebook a couple years ago. I don’t have the app installed on any of my devices so the only time I really log on is when I have a TedTalk I want to share or check in on a friend I’ve been thinking of. I have upped my usage in the past few months because of the relocation; it’s easy to know what your people are up to when you live 15 minutes from them. 1500 miles turns out to be a different story.

I refuse to get sucked into SnapChat (I find all those goddamn filters incredibly obnoxious) and I watch YouTube for cooking instructions. Twitter is mostly just boring and Pinterest is flat out dangerous for my free time and pocketbook alike.

Instagram, though. That’s where I lose my footing. The enticing quick glances into other people’s lives — both acquaintances and strangers — keeps me so hypnotized that I’ve enacted a new rule not to check it within one hour of my bedtime.

You know that feeling you got as a child playing Nintendo? Where you’d neglect to blink for so long that when you finally did, it actually burned? That’s the summation of my relationship with Instagram.

The thing we know about Instagram, probably more than those other platforms, is that most of us are crafting a pretty little life designed solely to impress. We’re all amazing when we document our best hair days, exotic vacations, and restaurant-worthy meals. I say this knowing that I’m guilty on all counts there. With full judgement, because I hate that I do it.

Lately more than ever it feels as though we’re using it as a way to one-up some invisible critic. Like I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t want pictures of the Women’s March because I didn’t want to fall into a mental trap of my own making. Because when I take hundreds of pictures trying to prove to everyone how civically engaged I am, I’ve disengaged myself from the true reason I attended. Because that civic engagement was my intention, right? And not simply to prove to someone/anyone that I’m better than them, right? Or maybe to prove that I’m simply good enough? Right?

In the instance of the Women’s March I’ve considered and analyzed and I’m pretty certain that my intentions were genuine. But plenty of other experiences I’ve shared? When I get real with myself, I can’t be definitive with clear conscious.

I’ve thought about adjusting my IG posts to show a more vulnerable and realistic reflection of my life. Stop using filters. Post selfies at a straight-on angle. Document the “green” smoothies I drink which turn out grey because of the flax seed I add (so sexy). The Catch 22 is that I’m pretty sure I’d soon start evaluating myself on if I’m being vulnerable enough. Or worse, if I’m being More Vulnerable Than You.

In the end, it feels like a lose-lose situation, this social media stuff.
Though I’m not yet ready to deactivate all my accounts.
Because this week’s VOW is WITHDRAW, not WITHDRAWAL.

So instead I choose to be more mindful about my consumption.
Pausing as I hover my thumb over the little camera icon on my phone.
Because when you start tracking it, you start realizing what a default the mindless comparison scrolling is.

And with my training last weekend on Mental Health First Aid, I want to ensure I’m taking the progressive steps to maintain my psychological well being.

Which includes taking a step back from being so engaged (ergo enraged) with Trump all the time. I can’t function on that level of anger all the time. Non-constructive anxiety and hatred will deplete me so that when it’s time for me to actually step up and do something, I won’t have the energy to participate.

Now when I get my news in 15 minute spurts via NPR, I can sit with my true thoughts. Without the comments or filter of another person. And I choose how I want to respond; send emails, make calls, choose to WITHDRAW for the time being. What’s healthy and good for me in that moment is more genuine — and helps me stop judging my inner life with people’s public lives.

 

AND NOW WE establish

 


Lin’s VOW mantra: Jesus, I look at Instagram sooooo much
(less a mantra though this did go through my mind at least a few dozen times this week)

Lin’s Song of the Week: Thrills by Cake


Be sure to read up on Steph’s post on #VOWwithdraw

(image credit Andrew Richard with Buzzfeed)

2 thoughts on “It’s All Vanity: Reflecting on WITHDRAW

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