Why I’m Curating my Facebook Feed

One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced as I try to simplify and remove unwanted distractions from my life has been the removal of intangible distractions. I work full time and then some behind a computer screen, so it’s difficult not to get entirely caught up in the digital world.

But sometimes, you’ve got to outsmart yourself.

I’ve thought hard and often about deactivating my Facebook page, but can’t bring myself to do it. It’s such a great way to stay connected to friends and family who I would otherwise not regularly communicate with. I get to see pictures of my (newly inherited) nephews more regularly than I’m actually able to see them in person. I’m able to check in on my little brother in South Carolina without letting him know that I’m checking in (what could be less cool than a pestering older sister?)

But in order to do that, I have to wade through some…well, junk. And some not junk – I’ve started to unfollow people for some expected and unexpected reasons.

There’s a 90% chance I’m not following your updates.

And it’s not because I hate you or that I no longer want to be your friend. It’s because I want to still have the option of checking in on you without hearing from you every day. You’re probably a friendly connection I’ve made along the way and I still love having the opportunity of being in touch with you, but I don’t need to read details of your life every day. Here’s my criteria for unfollowing:

  • Mundane updates
  • Dramatic or cryptic updates
  • Automatic updates from applications. NO. I’ve learned to stay away from Candy Crush, and I don’t need that temptation again.
  • Selfies on selfies on selfies.

Here’s the one that takes people off guard: I unfollow people who have beautiful pictures of their incredible adventures (unless they’re my very best friends). I’ve started to realize that consistent exposure to other people’s lives has made me worry about my own. Am I going on enough adventures? Am I fun? Look at all those people having fun together, do I even have friends?

Yes, yes and yes. I just don’t tend to document it all as well as others do. But that’s okay.

Honestly, my next step is to delete my Facebook account entirely, since I mostly observe from the corner. But how can I stay in touch with my new nephews and my family? I might have to change a few things up if I want to start getting digital with my minimalism.

Have you deleted your Facebook? If so, have you implemented any alternatives?

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The Impostor Syndrome

I have 7 or 8 dresses. I have various musical instruments that I do not play, nor do I have time to learn them. I’m a fake. An impostor.

It is true, yes, that I have more dresses than there are days in the week, and that I have a strange affinity for instruments and typewriters that doesn’t exactly fall in line with the simple living ideas I present on this blog (although, to my defense, I consider all these things very beautiful and inspiring). However, it’s this strange fear of being found out as an impostor that hampers my progress with this blog.

The impostor syndrome is rampant among my friends, all incredibly smart and talented people I am proud to be in regular communication with. It’s also widespread in the professional world, and has been holding people back from recognizing their remarkable skills.

I’m an impostor all the time.

But really, am I? Are you?

We tend to belittle our achievements, and fail to recognize (even silently to ourselves) the work we’ve accomplished. This impostor syndrome causes unnecessary anxiety. And anxiety, as Seth Godin reminds us “is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”

This mindset is a waste of our time. It makes us do things, say things, hold back things that we wouldn’t usually (how’s that for an impostor?) and I imagine it has a strong negative impact on what we decide to contribute. I know it impacts what I write here, and what I don’t (my “drafts” tab is about as long as my “published”).

Although humility is one of the traits I hold in high regard (especially with the path towards minimalism and since I’m a young, rather inexperienced person in the ways of the massive world we live in), I think it’s time we start giving ourselves more credit and bragging a bit.

I think it’s time to give ourselves more pep talks in the car, to project our ideas in the midst of fast-paced meetings, and to share what we find as valuable and interesting. Because you know what? It is valuable and interesting.

How are you fighting this beast?

I would love to know if, and how, you’re fighting this monster of a mentality. Not unlike a victim mentality, it’s affecting our well being and may be sabotaging our relationships and professional standing. I’m working on a few rules for myself to keep my confidence high.

Impostor Monster

You’re not an impostor.

First, realize what you are doing. You are exaggerating your averageness. And you’re not average. Then, create some rules for yourself:

Seek feedback and criticism – honest, non-filtered constructive criticism. Be more vocal, risk embarrassing yourself (note: you probably will embarrass yourself, and that can often be fun, creative or productive). View everything as an opportunity. Encourage others. Share your ideas. Even the baby ones that haven’t yet started to walk on their own.

I think we all convince ourselves that our friends, colleagues and mentors are superheroes, and I’m not suggesting that they’re not in some capacity. What we need to realize, though, is that they also have dirty kitchens, feel shy in meetings, and worry just like us.

Is this something you struggle with too? I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as challenge you to embolden yourself and beat this creature once and for all.

A Life Lived in Comparison

Comparison is an act of violence against the self.

~Iyanla Vanzant

Drooping FlowerI know a girl, let’s call her Stacy, who is the most graceful, beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. She’s always decked out in upscale (and likely expensive) clothes, and can pull off any look flawlessly. Over the years I’ve known her, I have learned one thing: I am not a Stacy.

I’ve tried to be a Stacy, but on a budget, by buying similar designer clothes at thrift stores, and even by going to (gasp!) malls to purchase outfits. One of my closest friends and I drool over her style choices and always ask ourselves “would she wear this?” before making the final decision on a piece of clothing. We’re living in comparison to this girl.

But then a funny thing happened. I realized that I wasn’t nearly as comfortable when I dressed like her, when I tried to act like her, and when I tried to do my makeup as well as she does hers. I realized, and you probably knew this was coming, but I realized that the more I acted like her, the more I became a fraud. I’m not poised. I’m not elegant. I’m more of a comfort-first, pink-and-sparkles kind of person. Think DJ Tanner versus Kimmy Gibbler, and I’m Kimmy.

So, my question for you today is: are you living your life in comparison to someone or some ideal?

And that’s not all. Occasional comparison is okay, in fact, it seems inevitable. But when you do compare yourself to another, are you comparing yourself to someone you’d like to be more like? Or is it someone that you can’t see yourself becoming?

I think that learning to live your life independently of what others are doing is an essential skill especially for those of us who “live” online. There’s always going to be someone more stylish than us, wealthier than us, better at blogging than us, and it’s up to us to decide how we react to that. Here’s a hint: don’t live in someone’s digital shadow.

So, to remedy my issue with comparison, I’ve been starting to compare myself to what I want to be instead of the person I’d most like to emulate. If I catch myself wasting time on Facebook or lazing about when there are things to be done, I ask myself, “would my ideal self do this? What would she do instead?” Write. Exercise. Meditate.

Challenge yourself to stop comparing yourselves to strangers, acquaintances, coworkers, and start using these comparisons to get to the bottom of what you really want out of life. Is it really fancier clothes?

Things to Say Instead of “Hate” (And Why You Should Say Them)

I hate mornings. I hate being broke. I hate my life.

These are all things I hear almost every day from people who don’t really even mean it. While it’s a strong way to make a point, it’s doing more harm than good.

Saying “hate” when you don’t mean it can start out as a joke, but soon it becomes ingrained in daily vocabulary. This does two things:

  • Other people may come to see you as an unhappy, therefore most likely unpleasant, person
  • It seeps its way into your mind and convinces you that things really are as terrible as you say they are
eaten sandwich

I hate this sandwich.

I’m not going to say I’m free from this habit. I still say “hate” much more often than I’d like, but I’ve been working on becoming more conscious of it. In fact, if I find myself complaining about something, I force myself to think of at least one thing about it that I truly appreciate. It’s raining? What a nice way to cool down! It’s too hot? What beautiful sunshine! (You get the picture).

I came across this Bible verse that struck a chord with me as I was writing this post:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

It’s a great reminder to watch our language and make sure it builds others–and ourselves–up. Reducing your use of negative and harsh language is a simple step to a better day. Here’s what I say instead of “hate”:

  • I don’t like it
  • I’m not a fan
  • It kind of sucks
  • It’s lame
  • What a bummer
  • That’s wild
  • Holy cow! Yikes!
  • Sweet Cheesus that’s awful

Again, you get the picture. Whatever comes to mind, especially if a pun is appropriate. If a friend is absorbed in this negative language trap, lighten the mood by cracking a joke or lower the intensity of the language by one or two notches, and work from there.

So here’s a challenge for both you and me: become aware of how many times a day you find yourself declaring extreme hatred for something. If you can catch yourself before you say it, don’t say it. If you can’t, simply keep track of the numbers and evaluate at the end of the day or week what you might be able to do to start using more positive language.

And, yes, the fact that I’ve written this blog post gives everyone the right to point out whenever I use the word “hate”.

Today is a Good Day

I found myself saying this to myself jokingly one day. I laughed as I said “I had 2 cups of coffee today. Today is a good day.” (2 cups is a regular occurrence. There was nothing special about it.)

Then, I said it to myself the next day. And the next. Finally, I found myself saying it after truly meaningful, small things that I was grateful for. If everything else goes wrong today, I’d say to myself, at least this one thing went really, really well. 

Today is a good day.

Start by saying it right now. Don’t add qualifiers or exceptions. Find at least one happy instance to center it around, and be grateful for it. Too often we focus on the negatives and get caught up in a snowball of increasingly pitiful statements.

A positive frame of mind does wonders for your health, productivity, and longevity. It’s contagious. It’s invigorating. Reduce your complaints. Minimize negative thoughts. Try it–I think you’ll like it.

Today is a Good Day

The Cleanse: Reduce Your Digital Distractions

I’ve had the conversation time and time again.

“I feel like my life isn’t exciting. I see all my friends uploading photos to Facebook and they’re all having fun without me. Their lives are cooler, prettier, and more interesting than mine.”

Have you had this conversation? With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and especially Pinterest, this unhappiness digs deep at a lot of us. It can be debilitating. It can be addicting.

So today, I propose another challenge. Analyze how you spend your day, and identify where you can cut out the unnecessary distractions. Don’t tell me that scrolling through Pinterest for hours and hours is how you relax. It’s causing you more stress! It’s destroying your productivity! It’s draining your energy! It’s making you unhappy.

I’ve recently been without internet at my apartment. So, instead of sleeping and eating the day away, I’ve been walking to the grocery store, talking to my family on the phone, and listening to audiobooks as I do dishes. I’ve been exercising more and my eyes feel a lot less tired from staring at screens all day. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s a black hole of time-wasting and an avalanche of self-esteem lowering images and ideas.

Make it a personal goal to avoid unnecessary time online, and when you do, consider sharing more of what you do well rather than just focusing on what others are doing or what they own that you cannot. I’m going to follow this post up with detailed entries about various social networks and how you can start utilizing them efficiently and positively, because I’ve been through an addiction to each one–and none of them are healthy.

Do you use the internet as a tool to further your productivity, or do you lose hours a day while browsing?