I wanted to share what I posted today on Instagram because it’s been on my mind for a while:
Have been aching inside about the war in Ukraine and all the lives lost. It’s gotten me thinking about life with my family and how I want to spend it.
Twelve years ago, I remember holding my baby late one night, laptop open on my lap, the baby awkwardly off to the side as I attempted to type one-handed. I was writing back blog readers with questions and comments, something I had always done. And I was crying. I was exhausted, having just had my second son and the thought of letting people down made me sick. And I looked at him needing me, needing to not be shoved aside for a laptop. I decided then that I had to put my family first, my business second, and that all that I could give to my blog readers were the posts I was writing rather than being available for individual questions and notes. I couldn’t be all things to all people. I wrote a blog post about my decision letting people know I couldn’t be there in the same way but that I still cared. People were kind and understanding but maybe I hurt some feelings or miffed others and that was hard to know but I took a deep breath and let the emails asking about paint colors and sources pile up. (We had also made an internal decision that we could not afford to hire a full-time employee to answer all the questions.)
I was pretty strict with myself and life got better at home. I learned to be okay that I might not be understood. Fast-forward to a few years later when instagram popped into my life. At first it was a fun place to share heavily filtered photos of anything I could get my hands on lol (a drink, a flower, a food stand on the side of the road, selfies etc.) but then I began to use it in addition to and eventually lieu of my blog posts, to share photos of my work and life. I purposely didn’t have DMs because I knew I couldn’t commit to keeping up. There were no hearts to like comments with yet. There were no stories.
I shared and it helped our business immensely… but it slowly changed and the algorithm demanded more. More time, more interaction, more of me. And I kept giving. Begrudgingly at first, opening up DMs because the algorithm wanted it, but eventually spending hours a day liking, responding and communicating with an amazing group of humans felt normal and, at times, incredibly gratifying. It was like the old days of blogging. I have my friends here, the people whom I’ve never met but whose sweet messages brighten so many days and whose lives I also feel invested in. But it comes at the cost of my often not being fully present. I may not even be on Instagram, but I feel the pull of all the unopened DMs and the questions. I feel the worry about letting people down or them thinking I don’t care. And in my attempts to write people back and show that I care, I’m missing out on lots of in-between moments at home… A car ride with the family means I get to write people back so then I can exhale…I wake up in the morning and try to like, respond, and repost on here. I try to get on at the end of the day… And I breathe easier when I feel caught up.
And I can see it’s become an addiction. It’s a loop. When I pick up my phone for anything, without realizing it I open Instagram and my emails and start trying to write people back. I will completely forget why I picked up my phone or what I had wanted to look up. They say the likes and being on here gives you a hit of dopamine so I guess that’s it… and I also have guilt/ anxiety and a worry that the people I care about on here – which is honestly most people I interact with because I feel so grateful for the positivity- won’t feel cared for if I don’t spend the time communicating with them. For years I’ve known this was happening, that it was costing me. I’ve tried to place limits on myself at times but it always seems to eek into more. It’s not healthy.
As I sit here, typing away with my thumbs- so far past the caption length allowance- I need to ask what am I afraid of? I know I WANT to pull back so why don’t I? I think it’s the fear that my lack of interaction and responses will hurt someone’s feelings or make them think I don’t care or suck. (I know our business will suffer a little bit but that’s not the real issue for me though for years I’ve been telling myself it is.) If I were attempting to give advice to myself I’d say, “you can ONLY control your own emotions… everyone else’s are up to them.” It’s something I’ve been working on lately… realizing I am not responsible for how others feel when I create boundaries or make decisions that are right for me and entail me not sacrificing from my time / family/ life for them. And now it’s time for me to take that approach here. I’m not quite sure what my plan is and I didn’t wake up thinking I was going to do this today. So maybe it’s baby steps… I really don’t know. I plan to continue posting but think I’m going to try to start with an away message for my DMs. Or turn them off it that’s a thing? And I’m going to tell you right now that I care about you and am grateful for you and I hope you can feel that. I just need more of myself back. Love to you. xo