Holiday Parties and Social Media Anxiety

Happy Holidays! It’s that time of year again. Christmas is literally days away. This holiday, like all the others, can bring with it so many thoughts and emotions. For some it’s the most wonderful time of year and for others it’s a dreaded day that you just have to get through. In complete transparency, I think I am somewhere in the middle of “Yay, I love Christmas!” and “Bah Humbug!”, depending on the series of memories I allow to play in my mind.

In order to create new memories, and further inching myself toward the “Yay, I love Christmas!” side of the spectrum, I attended my firms Christmas Party with friends. It was a very last minute decision but we made it. The venue was absolutely beautiful. I think it’s safe to say that we all had an amazing time!

Now since this was an event, there were smart phones and cameras galore. What’s a party if its not documented right? *smacks forehead* Hey we all got dressed so why not share the memories we were creating with others? Like everyone else I took a few THOUSAND pictures and posted the cute ones to Instagram.

It had been a long time since I participated on Instagram…

I was okay the night of, during the party, and getting back home and drifting into a rather blissful sleep after being saturated in everyone’s happy. It wasn’t until about mid afternoon the next day that I caught myself checking the stats and when I wasn’t seeing the numbers I thought I should get there was a shadow of negative emotion attached to. At my age, the numbers still bothered me…what in the world!?

It was then that I think I had a J.Cole moment. Let me give you a bit of background so that you understand what I mean. Mr.Cole did an interview where he talked about his reaction to social media. How even he dealt with the comparison game. Yes, J. Cole. A-list musical genius. He told the interviewer about how he had taken time away from the app and worked on himself, mentally, spiritually etc. What surprised him was that once he downloaded the app again the same habits came back. It was then that he realized months away from the app didn’t mean your emotional triggers or reactions would be fixed once you entered back into the world of social media. Instead he realized that you have to learn how to monitor and create a healthy place for your soul to operate while you participate in social media. (I am paraphrasing here folks, feel free to go watch the interview on your own.)

Now I won’t lie. When I first watched the interview I thought “Sir, you are famous. You are rich. You don’t get what it’s like. You don’t deal with what us regular folk deal with.” But there I was, sitting in my apartment living the words he spoke. I too took time away to read, journal, sing, play my guitar, work on my ability to nurture, care for, discipline and love myself better. I took the time away to be able to hear my own thoughts and opinions separate from those of the entire world that are shared 24/7 across multiple social media platforms. Yet, once I opened the Instagram app back up there was this surge of subconscious behaviors that had resurfaced.

So what did this mean? I took it to mean that there is still work that I need to do on me. Work to finding the root of the problem. Can you relate? I searched my past experiences back to the ones that held the strongest negative and positive reactions. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my behaviors surrounding the app came from a desire for the validation and/or confirmation of who I believe I am from others. Yuck! I say yuck because during my time of solitude I worked through all that. I learned to give that to myself freely and daily. In the words of Brother Jonathan McReynolds, sung in the song Cycles, “…Didn’t I go through this? last year?…must be something I ate?”

Like J. Cole, I determined that this time there was no need to delete the app again. I should run the app not let the app run me! I began by taking a few preventitve measures.

1. I began to consciously get rid of any “follower” that triggered any negative feeling within me or reminded me of any past negative event. Why? Because I can do bad all by myself. My brain does not need any help with holding on to the negative emotions attached to a picture. If the visual does not serve me I simply mute or delete it. That simple. Now, I use the algorithm to my advantage in that I react only to what I want to see more of.

2. I take time to evaluate what socal media platform best suits my current state of growth and purpose for participation. I prefer forms of social media that are more art gallery based. Where I can present my art, perfect or unperfect, and let people visit when they want to. Platforms like Youtube or my blog currently fit that bill.

3. I check in with myself each week about the amount of stress I am dealing with and the amount of self care I am giving to myself. Now that I understand “the How” of self love, self discipline and self care I have found that the two are almost always related.

It seems I walked into a holiday party just trying to enjoy the holiday season and woke up the next morning with another life lesson. While I am changing the lens through which I view social media and the filter for who I look at, I also need to change the programming my mind uses to make sense of the images I take in. For me, posting must always come from the joy of creation or sharing. I will only increase my IG usage as my subconscious beliefs and habits surrounding it’s use improve in a positive way.

Okay. My rant is officially over. Now I want to hear from you! How do the holidays make you feel? How does social media affect your feelings, if at all? Let’s get this conversation going.

And remember, I think you are dope simply because you are the only you there will ever be.

Sincerely,

Nate

P.S. Follow me on Bloglovin or via email if you haven’t already. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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