Is it just me, or does anyone else need to press pause on their online presence once in awhile? I’m not sure what it is about social media that occasionally turns me off, but I recently took a much needed break for a few reasons and it. felt. awesome. Though my social accounts have a special place in my heart and are crucial to keeping Willful and Wildhearted afloat, they all share one commonality: they sorta promote a distorted reality.
While I know there is a distinct line between this blog’s social media presence and my private Facebook account postings, the boundaries tend to get blurred. I often feel as though I’m a terrible travel blogger as I prefer to keep lots of my daily on goings discreet – particularly while on the road. I’d much rather take it all and post about it later rather than looking at the world through my phone screen, but that’s not that case among most bloggers for obvious reasons. I started to resent myself for not being more out there, and even more so for not wanting to take Insta-worthy photos as much as I used to.
I’ve always tried to be honest about myself on this blog since its inception. I’ve even written about this similar topic in the past. Regardless, even I am guilty of enhancing my life online from time to time.
Before moving to Vietnam six months ago, we traveled for two months around Europe with five large-ish bags in tow. Yep. Five. The cost to send all of our items from New Zealand to Vietnam was astronomical, so we decided to bring what we could with us. Can I be honest? It sucked. It was totally inconvenient, illogical and not our style of traveling whatsoever. But it needed to be done.
Throughout our trip, I posted lovely photos of us in dreamy locations such as the Amalfi Coast, Paris, and Rome. However, I’d grown to hate myself for not posting what was really happening behind the scenes:
- Having to buy a new suitcase in Naples because the cobbled streets broke a wheel on James’ one painstakingly humid afternoon.
- The suffocating crowds that surrounded us on a constant basis
- The fact that neither of us is used to moving around to different cities so quickly, therefore we were experiencing some pretty significant ‘travel burnout.’
- Undergoing mental anguish re: the mere notion that I was experiencing said travel burnout
- Dealing with the emotions of moving from NEW ZEALAND to VIETNAM by way of EUROPE. Seriously, though… what were we thinking?
In addition to feeling like a complete fraud, I found myself getting worried about when I would upload photos to Instagram. I became obsessed with determining which time frame would be best for the American audience while still fitting with the European and U.K. followers for supreme engagement on each photo. I was so stressed out by everything that I found it hard to focus on my OG bae, Willful and Wildhearted. I was plugging away on Instagram with such vigor and beginning to actually hate every second of it.
So, I stopped.
One month went by, and then another. As soon as I began to feel better about sharing in the groove… I got robbed. My phone – containing a ton of photos I carelessly hadn’t backed up yet – was taken from me on Saigon’s notorious Bui Vien. I cried a bunch, then cursed myself for having not uploaded them and then sucked it up and purchased a used iPhone 6. In that order.
Here I was, dealing with the early onsets of culture shock, and also dealing with the realization that I’d lost some irreplaceable photo memories. To say I was distraught would be an understatement.
To give you an idea, here are examples of images I’ll never be able to get back:
- Selfies, along with normal photos, with my 87-year-old grandfather
- Goofy photos I took when I visited my hometown BFFs
- That time I was three seconds away from meeting James Taylor, one of my childhood heroes
- The entire Europe trip; many of which contained photos with my mom and stepdad who came to visit us in England
I felt hopeless and totally overwhelmed, so I began to put projects on the backburner – luckily with clients who understood my situation. I was caught up in a new job, in a new city, making new friends and having new experiences. I stopped taking photos in fear of my phone getting pick pocketed, and even stopped blogging for a little bit. I began to feel consumed with wonder as to whether or not my Instagram engagement would be back up to normal speed once I re-posted, or if all of my photos would tank due to my six-month hiatus.
Regardless of this lingering dread, I’ve decided to stop allowing social media to feed into my anxiety. I no longer fear it taking complete precedence over this blog – or my personal life – and I’m regaining balance and finally adjusting to my new home. I have awesome friends, a great job and a lovely apartment that doubles as a quiet haven from this city’s total chaos. I’m feeling grateful to be here, and, most importantly, have forgiven myself for being one of those people who tried to put an Instagram filter over my entire life.
Have you ever needed a digital detox?