I’ve always struggled with social media. When I was in high school, my friends and I all had “MySpace” and by the time we graduated, Facebook was taking over. At first, it was a great tool to keep us all connected. So many of my friends were leaving for college and Facebook was a fantastic way to keep in touch. Still, it took me a bit to actually participate on social media, instead I opted to just observe without commenting or posting. It took me even longer to join other platforms. I didn’t use Twitter or Instagram until I started this blog. In fact, I had to ask someone what hashtags were and how to use them. When I did participate, it felt just like socializing and left me feeling anxious and drained. Throw in the cell phone’s ability to make me reachable at all times, and I’m often spinning and overwhelmed.
When I became a stay at home mom, I was thrown into an isolation that is as strange as it is frustrating. Social media became something that I used to try to make myself feel more energized and less alone. But rarely did it help, only increasing the feelings of isolation. It took some inner soul searching to figure out how to keep myself centered, energized, and happy. I found that it all stemmed from my personality trait of being an introvert.
What is an introvert? An introvert is someone who prefers solitude over being social. Extroverts, who thrive with others, feel energized and happy when surrounded by people. They love to talk and be involved. Introverts, on the other hand, can feel drained and anxious as a result of being social and require quiet, alone time to recharge.
What does this have to do with social media? As an introvert, social media is both a relief as well as a stressor. On the one hand, I don’t have to physically speak to anyone and can stay in the comfort of my own home. On the other hand, socializing is still socializing whether you’re speaking or typing. It’s also, particularly for introverts, a constant reminder that it’s hard us to be social. The bombardment of pictures of friends going to parties and living an involved life can make introverts feel like there’s something wrong with them or that they don’t have enough friends.
Back to my stay at home mom dilemma. I thought that because I was suddenly home alone with just my child, that I needed to stay actively social in order to feel like myself. Like perhaps I lost my balance and needed to be social to restore it. But it was actually the opposite that needed to happen. As an introvert mom, constantly being with another person (my child) is incredibly draining. I spend my entire day (and often night) socializing with this little person. We talk, read books, go to the park, play, and interact for hours on end. I love being a stay at home mom and I love spending time with my child, but I’m still an introvert. And after all that, an introvert needs alone time to recharge.
I finally recently admitted to myself that I don’t like social media. I don’t like attention. I don’t like taking selfies and as a private person, I don’t like to share things with others. It’s too overwhelming to keep up with the fast paced momentum of all of these platforms and it just takes up too much of my time to participate. And that’s okay. It’s also totally okay if you love social media, take magazine worthy selfies, and thrive on attention.
Sometimes I wonder if taking it easy on social media is a mistake. As a blogger, I rely on social media to get readers to my website. And because it’s constantly changing, I feel the pressure to keep up in order to stay relevant and to protect my future should I reenter the workplace.
But it’s also important for me to stay present and focused on the life right in front of me. My child, and the few personal relationships that I do have, thrive when I feel centered and energized. So, for now, I’ll open a book instead of Facebook, turn on some music and turn off my phone, and remind myself that it’s ok for no one to know what I’m doing but me.