Finding Liberation: Do You Have To Go “Off the Grid”?

For those who follow me on Instagram, you already know this, but I recently came back from an amazing trip to California.  One of my younger cousins was getting married and the trip that started out as a short wedding weekend quickly evolved into a jam-packed California adventure! I know when most bloggers (including myself) return from a trip, the first thing they do is start to write a post documenting what they did/where they stayed etc. While I still plan on giving some recommendations in a later post (we stayed at a great Airbnb and ate at some awesome restaurants that I have to share!), I realized that I wanted to talk about more than that.  I have always led with my “gut” on this blog (not a great business model but oh well) and my “gut” is telling me to go beyond that. Long story short, this trip was liberating. Like truly freeing. It wasn’t perfect but let’s be honest, you spend six days straight with family and emotions will be on a rollercoaster (it’s all fun and games until grandma tries to cheat in a card game 😉 ). It took a lot of reflection for me to figure out why on earth I felt so liberated on this six day family trip.

You may be assuming it is because I was “off the grid”, meaning that I didn’t have Wi-Fi or cell service. Originally, that is what I thought as well… until I realized that for the most part I did have Wi-Fi and cell service the whole time.  I even posted on my Instagram occasionally. I could not figure out what about this trip was different. It didn’t add up. I wasn’t “off” the cell tower grid, yet, I still felt this overwhelming sense of freedom.  I didn’t even realize how liberated I felt until I was in the airport getting ready to fly home. It was like I had to reorient myself.  Truly, I had to remind myself… “oh yeah… this is my real life”. I have a pretty incredible life with my husband and pups, so this is not meant to be a complaint but… I almost felt depressed (I can’t be the only who gets the blues after vacay). My mind started to head down the ever-disastrous line of thinking,

“What is the point?? I seriously work for 245 days a year (roughly) just so I can get a week or two of joy??

Clearly, a terrible mental rabbit hole to jump down but it was way too late.  I was down the hole and around the corner.  This ultimately led to my mini-epiphany…  I was “on the grid” the entire time BUT my focus was elsewhere. More importantly, it was effortlessly elsewhere.

I didn’t force myself to not have my phone (I had it in hand the majority of the time, taking MANY pictures).  However, I didn’t feel the incessant need to see what everyone else was doing because I was consumed with my own life.  I was consumed by the stunning sunsets, the gorgeous coastline, the cute coffee shops, the incredible food, the delicious wine, the awe-inspiring redwoods, and the adorable shops. I have forced myself off of social media in the past either for lent or, as in previous vacations, been forced to be offline due to lack of service.  Those previous “social media hiatus’s” didn’t lead to this same sense of freedom because I had to force myself NOT to look.  It’s like I had to pep-talk myself, “Hey Leah, you don’t need to see what other people are doing. Just focus on YOUR life. Focus, Leah. Live in the moment, Leah.”  It’s like I had to tear my mind away from mentally obsessing over it and therefore further intensified my internal pep-talk, “Wow Leah, you seriously need this detox if you are thinking about it this much.”  I never had that same mental obsession during this trip.  I checked my phone occasionally but I wasn’t obsessed. This is when it hit me…

BALANCE.

That was it… that is what was different about this trip.  I started to examine this in the context of other things. Balance is ALWAYS the key (not to be misconstrued as the cultural push of relativism-that’s a different post for a different time). Dieting for example.  You don’t have to have a PhD in Nutrition to know that crash dieting is not healthy nor sustainable.  In fact, most health experts really encourage balanced eating as the key to combating disease and obesity. The all or nothing mentality is such an American cornerstone that is the key to so many of our failures and creates vicious cycles that lead to misunderstandings, false-narratives, and disappointment (my personal opinion right there). Social media is no different.  I have read countless posts about how amazing it is to be 100% free of social media.  I have stated this in previous posts, but social media and the internet are not going away.  They are influential and I believe being a positive presence online is important.  Our world and generations are being shaped by the internet (whether or not we like that idea).  I believe it can be a positive presence.  With that being said, obsession of any kind is damaging. The internet is part of our world yes, but it cannot be our entire world. I had access to being online but I was still present in the moment the whole trip. I spent quality time with people while still documenting it (yeah, contrary to popular belief- IS possible).

This is not to say that those who choose to disconnect are doing something wrong, disconnecting can absolutely be needed! I am saying that maybe we reframe our thinking… maybe social media isn’t this giant evil controlling our lives? Maybe it’s our obsession with it. Remember WE are the ones on social media. Want to change what it represents? BE the person you want represented. Want to change the conversations? Start the needed conversations. Maybe if we made more of an effort to go live life, to talk about real topics, to support others, to stand for something, to learn from people… to learn how to utilize some self-restraint (a skill I think we ALL could use some practice in), maybe we could end the vicious cycle of social media obsession and an Amish existence. Before I get inundated with messages about how damaging social media is, I am not disagreeing with the fact that social media is/can be damaging. I AM saying that just maybe, we practice moderation. 🙂 So post the pictures, tag your friends, comment on posts! But don’t forget to see the world, spend time with your family, read a book, help others, and DO all things that we have been called to do- maybe then we can find our own liberation without having to go “off the grid”.

Food for thought?