After dealing with the undue stress of school, work and trying to maintain somewhat of a social life, alongside being a mom, I finally experienced burn out. I felt hopeless and truly overwhelmed. I was starting to dislike my job, and even though I only worked three days a week, the thought of going in would send me into emotional turmoil. My desire to attend class waned until I had to pep talk myself out of bed every morning. I was getting pulled in various directions for my time, and with so much already on my plate, I felt defeated. I decided to take time for myself, to gather my thoughts and to figure it all out without the pressures of everyone else. To be quite clear, and so people would know, it wasn't individually them I was ignoring, I made a status on Facebook saying that I was going off the grid for a while and if I didn't answer calls & text to not be alarmed.
Be mindful, social media had NOTHING to do with me disconnecting initially, I was just advising people that I wouldn't be responding to calls and texts. But as the night wore on, (I was at work) I figured, that it would be best for me to disconnect from social media also. First I deleted my Facebook app, then Snapchat and soon after I actually deactivated my Instagram and twitter.
I forewarned all the people I was communicating with on the regular that I was taking time for myself. Some understood, others didn't. And for those who didn't, they were one of the main reasons why I initially decided to just go a few days without talking to people. Besides disconnecting from the world, socially and cyberly (I'm 100 percent sure that's not a word) I figured this would be a perfect blogging opportunity. What would it be like to be disconnected from other people for a few days, and essentially social media for a week or so…. It was interesting indeed.
First Day Of Disconnection
After deciding to unplug myself from social media outlets, I found myself returning to the apps, subconsciously, which lead me to delete them altogether. I spent the remainder of my time, being productive (coming up with this idea, amongst others). After I got off work, I had already made up my mind to take my son to the Garfield Park Conservatory so that was the next order of business. On the way there, I noticed that I could easily have a conversation with my baby without being easily distracted by the pings of notifications of my phone. The only time I needed to look at my phone was when I needed a visual for GPS. I usually like snapping our adventures and checking into places (as a slight reminder of the things we've done and places we've been) but those apps were long gone. We went through all of the conservatory rooms, distraction free. We read signs, we touched plants, we named fish, and had an all-around great time. `
Second Day of Disconnection
I fed a homeless man. I'm not saying this to be boastful but it's amazing at the things you realize when you're not absorbed in the endless abyss of your cellular phone. A quick backstory, if you don't mind, this homeless man I fed that day, I had often seen him outside of the dunkin donuts I frequent before heading to school. He'd always ask, in a soft spoken voice and also in the most polite way, "Ma'am, do you have any change. Any spare change would help." Usually, my eyes would be glued to my phone and I'd say "No, Sorry." You see, I wasn't saying it because I didn't want to give him any cash' simply put I just don't carry cash. I But this time, was different. As I found myself forming words of rejection, I realized I was tired of saying no. Certainly, there was SOMETHING I could do, to enhance this man's life in some way. I told him I didn't have any spare change but offered to buy him something to eat, he hesitated for a second and then said he'd like a breakfast sandwich. I inquired what kind he liked, and he said it didn't matter. This is where it gets interesting…. I walk into the dunkin donuts and the girl who often takes my order was there. I order my usual, and preceded to stare at the menu for a second. I ordered a croissant with sausage egg and cheese and a smirk smartly played across her lips.
"It's for him, isn't it." she nodded her head towards the homeless man sitting on the curb outside. I shrugged and said yeah. "He's been doing that all day, y'know." she said as a matter of factly. At that point, I felt she was being rude, and well, me being me… I gathered her rather quickly.
"Yeah, I seen his other dunkin donuts bags…. But you never know, he could be rationing his meals, they could be for his lunch, or dinner or snack. I'm sure, if he had anything else better to do than to beg for change and food, he'd be doing it. And if I have it to spare, why not help." The smirk instantly disappeared from her face.
"you're right." She said apologetically. "That's sweet. You're sweet. " Afterward, she preceded to make small talk, in what seemed like, trying to redeem herself for being so judgmental.
I was completely blown away. Yes, I had initially seen the other DD bags he had. I didn't care, it didn't bother me. Those bags could've been from days ago or as stated before, to allocate future meals. I didn't know this man story, and neither did she. I'm pretty sure if he had any other option, he'd be doing something else. You never know, what someone's situation might be, so if I'm in the position where I can help, I will.
I spent most of the day, doing homework and writing a paper that was due in a week. I had no desires to get on social media, so I guess that's a plus. I don't know if I was having hand-eye coordination withdrawals from not texting because I ended downloading about 4 games on my phone, that I played in rotation non-stop until I ran out of lives. Let me say, the Family Guy Match Game, is not a force to be reckoned with… it's not for the weak-hearted or sore losers either lol.
I finished a paper that was due, It was suppose to be a minimum of four pages, but it ended up being six, (Yay go me!) At this point, I really missed my friends, and with one of my paper's being complete, the load got a little lighter so I decided to cut myself some slack. So I reached out to all of them via text. I felt a lot better once they started responding, & after voicing their concerns, & telling me how they had missed me, our conversations reverted back to normal, plans and jokes.
Also on this day, I realized the exact thing that lead to me cutting myself off. I decided to cut myself off because I was tired of declining social invitations. It wasn't the actual action of saying no but more of the reaction I would get in return. It seemed that people failed to realize that my time was extremely limited. With school, work and my son, anything outside of that, I was trying to catch up on sleep. So me saying "No, you can't come see me." "No I can't come see you." "No, I don't want to catch a movie or get breakfast after a 12hr shift"; would always cause some sort of passive aggressive backlash. I felt like I was being pulled in a thousand different directions, and once I said no, (with an explanation, I certainly didn't owe) they'd try to make me feel bad or guilty. I just needed to take time for myself to refocus and regroup. I had to cut everyone off, because I was starting reach my boiling point. That little epiphany resonated well with me and I knew what I had to do; set boundaries & let go of the people who didn't understand.
I cheated. I logged into Facebook, for whatever reason, I can't explain. Anyway, someone had tagged me in a post that really made me smile. I commented and logged back off with no interest on getting back on until my hiatus was officially up. My hiatus will be up when I'm close to finishing my last paper of the semester. I had no desire to get on anything but twitter. And I mean it was a REALLY strong urge to log on to twitter, But the way my will power is set up. ;)
Well, that's a play-by-play (not really) of my days off of social media & I must say, it was refreshing. I got a lot more done as far as school and home life is concerned. You'd be amazed at how much you could achieve , and the things you notice when you live in the now & not with your eyes glued to your phone. Consequently, I've made up my mind to do this at least once a month, and maybe even more when school starts back. This experience was very revitalizing & defeat is no longer a word I wish to be associated with. I'm ready to take on the world.
It ain't easy, but somebody's gotta do it.