Today is my first day back at work after taking an extended two-week (+a few days) holiday in Thailand. For the past few years, I’ve taken a few long weekends and some Fridays off, but I’ve never really been gone from work (and the U.S) for that long.
Since it’s part of my job to be on social media all day, every day, I took the opportunity to unplug completely from the internet.
Bringing my phone on the trip for photos and emergencies, I knew the first step to ripping off the Band-Aid was to delete all social apps (Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, even Facebook Messenger!) and turning off email. Removing that beast of distraction from my psyche provided new perspective on my daily life and routines, gave me enriched understanding of the concept of time and where I choose to spend it, and renewed my purpose in my life.
Here’s a short list of reflections I’m chewing on this week:
1) I waste so much time doing nothing.
In the overly-connected world we live in, we are numbed by an onslaught of useless information and digital noise on a daily, hourly basis. It feels like we’re so busy all the time and everything feels so important! But maybe we’re not and it’s not. By shutting off the faucet of emails to answer, videos to watch, moments to capture on Snapchat, I was able to focus on more important things (in my opinion): being an attentive, loving wife, learning, growing, reading, and, yes, staring out onto the horizon contemplating my place in the world and how incredible God’s creation truly is.
2) I tend to lean and expect on other people’s approval.
It’s embarrassing, but also freeing, to admit that I am disappointed when my Instagram photos don’t get over a certain number of likes and I get pangs of jealousy when I see a social media influencer on TV promoting her new book. What does that say about me? That I rely on and am addicted to other people’s approval. Without input from outsiders, grading and judging my life and work on social media, I was able to refresh (pun intended) and be reminded that my daily bread is not made up of likes, comments and kudos. My worth is not constituted of what other people think of me (the good and the bad). I’m loved by the God who created me and that’s all the approval I need.
3) I need to read more and continue learning.
It’s easy to feel like I’m learning when you’re watching an online video or reading an article, but for some reason, I don’t retain information the same way when reading it off a screen. There are so many distractions to fill an empty space that could be filled with contemplation that are instead filled with checking and re-checking Facebook, News, YouTube, email, etc. Call me old-school, but I’m really digging paper books and podcasts lately: uninterrupted learning and absorbing. I was so impressed with the language abilities of the Thai natives, Chinese tourists and European back papers. Everyone spoke, not only their native tongue, but also, English. I only speak English. What’s stopping me from learning a new language? Or leaning how to code?
4) I didn’t miss much.
Before I left, I recapped all my projects and my team helped cover for me. Nothing was on fire and the world just kept going while I was gone. Trump and Hillary are still going at it, and, oh, I guess Apple released a new iPhone, so that’s pretty big. So other than the iPhone, what did I miss by unplugging from work for two weeks? Not much. And what I gained was worth the risk of missing out.