Finding Intention on Social Media

Finding Intention on Social Media

Intention (n)- an aim or purpose

This word has been on my mind a lot lately in regards to almost everything in my life right now: my career path, my blog, my extracurricular involvement, and even just my interactions with others.  In each of these, what is my intention? What is my purpose, my end goal?

It is so easy to lose sight of intention in this busy and loud world and nowhere is that easier than social media.  Whether you’re a blogger or just someone who enjoys Instagram, you joined social media and use it for a reason. Maybe, it’s to stay informed about your friends lives and better connect with them, maybe it’s to promote a business or idea, or maybe it’s a learning space to you where you can connect with resources.  Most likely, when you’re scrolling Instagram or putting together your latest caption, you aren’t thinking of this reason. You aren’t thinking about your purpose for being on social media, and that’s not your fault. In fact, social media encourages us not to think about our purpose.

Social media is paradise for a micromanager.  Every detail matters on social media and none can be too well thought out.  Think about presets. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in the last two months working on my presets, trying to get the tone, tint, and lighting of my photos exactly perfect and make it so that my feed is cohesive.  The crazier part is that presets are an industry: people are selling them constantly and more and more bloggers are making videos/blogs about how they edit their photos with presets.

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This is my Lightroom account right now– it features many photos I’ve never posted and many photos edited in one to two different presets.

Maybe, you haven’t gone into the preset world or engaged with them in any way, but you still probably fall into the social media micromanaging.  At dinner yesterday with a friend, we spent part of our meal analyzing his photos and why they hadn’t been getting as many likes as usual. We went through every detail in these photos.  Were they posted at a topically relevant time? Was the photo aesthetically pleasing or confusing? Were they posted at a high traffic time for Instagram? My friend is not even super into social media and found himself on social media’s micromanaging island.

When you’re constantly thinking about the details, it’s hard to remember there’s a big picture to even think about.  Personally, this is my greatest weakness in all aspects of my life, but social media definitely exacerbates it for me.  Sometimes, you need to take a step back though and think back to that original reason why you’re on social media. For me, I created my  Instagram in the eighth grade, when the app was not even two years old yet. I joined because I wanted to be able to connect and share photos with friends– at the time, I followed about 10 people who I went to school with and the app felt like our collective photo album.  This fall, when I started my blog, my reason for Instagram became to create a positive place of honesty, sharing, and growth.  I was frustrated with how negative and purposeless a place social media, in particular Instagram, had become and I wanted to do something to change it for others, in whatever way I could.  

My intention for all my social media– my blog, my instagram, my twitter, and my pinterest– is to be always be a place of kindness and honesty.  I challenge you to think about your own intentions for social media. If you’re lost on where to even start, here’s some captions to ask yourself:

  1. What reason made you download Instagram or whatever social media app you’re thinking about?
  2. What are you proud of on your social media?  Is it the artistic nature of your photos, your witty captions, or your interactions with friends or followers?
  3. Do you feel like your in-person persona matches your social media presence?  Is your social media presence helping you to be the person you want to be?
  4. How can your social media help you in your goals as a person?  Can it help you be a better friend, a better resource, or a better professional?
  5. Are you happy with your social media presence?  If not, why not and what can you do to change it?

 

 

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Living My Truth: Being Vulnerable on Social Media

Living My Truth: Being Vulnerable on Social Media

“Love Yourself Instead of Loving the Idea of Other People Loving You”

I saw this quote come up on my Instagram feed and I immediately felt seen.  This quote encapsulated my struggle so well, so I shared it on my story. When a friend reached out then saying she related and started telling me her story, I felt I had to share my own story– I had to share why this quote meant so much to me and touched me so much.

So, I sat down on my bedroom floor (the spot with the best lighting in my apartment) and I recorded a video about losing myself sophomore year of college.  I had the perfect life on the surface– a big group of friends, leadership on campus, a great internship, and good grades– but, I was still so unhappy. I felt lost.  I was at a point of doubt with my religion and I was seriously questioning if God was real and if He was, did it even matter? I made a lot of decisions because of groupthink, rather than using my own judgment.  I was always with people and yet, I had never felt so alone in my life. I thought I had to love myself because others loved me, but I wasn’t happy with myself. I finished recording (after a few takes) and hit post.

Immediately after uploading, panic hit.  Had I shared too much? Would the people who knew me during that time period judge me and unfollow me?  Did people even want to hear about my struggles with faith?

I’ve shared my stories in the past, but this was scarier to me than usual and for a while, I couldn’t understand why.  Then, it hit me. I was sharing this story simply to share and for no other reason.

When I speak about anxiety, I’m speaking to share, but also because I want to be a resource to anyone who is struggling.  When I talk about social media comparison culture, it’s because I want to be part of changing this culture. In those moments, I am working for a higher purpose.

When I posted about feeling lost, confused, and unhappy, I simply shared because I wanted to be real.  I wanted to take off the mask for a moment and say my honest truth without trying to put a spin on it. And telling the truth, for no reason than wanting to show reality, is really scary.  It leaves you at your most vulnerable, but those are the moments that matter.

I don’t think we tell the truth enough.  I don’t think we’re real enough, with ourselves or others, enough.  We always have an agenda or are trying to put a spin on things. Right now, I’m conquering my fears by just telling my truth.  No spins, no masks, just me.

How I’m Finding Happiness in the Here & Now

How I’m Finding Happiness in the Here & Now

For the past week or so, I’ve been feeling stuck.  My focus has been lacking, my creativity has been nonexistent, and I’ve just not been feeling like myself.  When I’ve been trying to write, I’ve felt a wall go up: I can’t figure out what I’m ready to share about myself and my experiences.  Every time I try to write about my experiences, I lose my words. It’s like a wall goes up within me that stops me from sharing. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly why I’m in this rut right now.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting and I keep coming back to this point: a year ago, I was preparing to embark on an amazing adventure that would cause huge amounts of growth in me as a person.  For the last year of my life, I have changed locations and routines approximately every four months. I have not settled and now, I’m going back to a routine of sameness and I can’t help but fear that in settling in one spot, I’m not growing enough as a person.  I had a feeling I would go through a struggle this semester, and it’s the very reason I did not study abroad: I need to learn how to be in one place for a while.  

Staying physically in one place and one lifestyle though does not mean my life needs to be boring, mundane, or lack growth.  Today, I realized that staying in one place and having a routine here is giving me the opportunity to do what I haven’t done in a while: pursue things just because they’ll make me happy.  I have been so constantly moving for a year that I haven’t taken time to do things just because. I’ve felt like I had to experience everything all at once because each place I’ve been in, I’ve had a limited time there.  Even over break when I was home in New York, I felt this weird sense of urgency: I had to go to the diner and my favorite coffee shop and to see a Broadway show, because I don’t know when I’ll be back and able to do it all.  Now in DC, I don’t have that urgency and when I push aside my fear of sameness for a moment, it’s almost freeing to be able to prioritize my happiness without feeling like I’m missing out on something.

So, this semester, I’m going to do things for no reason other than that I want to and they will make me happy.  And to be honest, I have no idea what I’m going to do. Maybe, I’ll take that pottery class I’ve always said I was going to take.  Maybe, (when the government opens again), I’ll spend a day reading at the National Portrait Gallery or maybe, I’ll find my way back to an old hobby, like songwriting.  I don’t have to plan it all out perfectly for once. I can just live in the present for a while.

 

“Everyone has it together except for me” is a myth

“Everyone has it together except for me” is a myth

Sometimes, it feels like everyone has it all together except for you.  Everywhere you look are people who have it all figured out for the next ten years and then, there’s you.  You don’t even know what you’re having for dinner tonight, let alone what’s in your path five years, or even one year down the line.  It feels like the world is spinning too fast and you’re at risk of falling off the planet altogether.

BREATHE. You are not alone in this.  There is nothing wrong with you and I promise you, gravity will not abandon you anytime soon.

Behind the Picture

Often, we assume we know people and their lives better than we actually do.  We forget that we only see what other people want us to see and with that, we miss most of the story.  The girl who has our dream job doesn’t share the tons of interviews she went on before she landed that job.  She doesn’t share her struggle with mental health that affects her daily. She only shares the perfect pictures with the world– the good times, the perfect-fitting suits, and the success.  We assume we know her life, but we don’t see any of it. This is not to say she is not doing well and her successes shouldn’t be celebrated, but rather that it is not all picture perfect. She does not have it all together all the time– she’s just convinced us she does.

Making it Through

Personally, I find there’s something comforting when you take the mask off and see the reality of the world around you: everyone is making it through their own struggles, their own way.  That’s the thing though: everyone is making it through. The Earth hasn’t stopped spinning and people with struggles are not spontaneously combusting. Everyone is fighting through, day-by-day, because that’s life.  Life is not about having the perfect picture, but rather about making it through our struggles, scarred and bruised, and coming out the other side with a smile on our face.

I think life might even want us to embrace our baggage and our wreckage.  It is the moments with no direction that truly determine who we are. It is when nothing is given to us on a silver platter that we find our strength, determination, and path.  We live in a society that so badly wants to stuff our struggles under the carpet, but when we do that, we lose out on showing the world the most beautiful and bright parts of ourselves.  

 

Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you, Christmas?

Where are you Christmas?  Why can’t I find you?

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of slump and I’ve been trying to cover it up with excitement, but the truth is: this year is missing some Christmas spirit for me.  I’m not sure exactly why– maybe, it’s the aftermath of a stressful finals period and now the waiting for final grades to be released or maybe, it’s the rushed feeling that has been in my home as we struggle to get everything done in time for the holiday or maybe, it’s even the distress that comes along with following politics this season.  Whatever it is, something just feels off to me.

I think admitting that we can’t feel the holiday cheer is something hard for a lot of us to do.  What is wrong with us that we don’t just feel overjoyed this season? In almost every Christmas movie, the people who don’t feel Christmas cheer are often villains or mean people. They live quite unhappy and grouchy lives until someone opens their eyes to how great Christmas can be (often by going to some small, adorable town where they find love and community). But, sometimes, not feeling the holiday spirit doesn’t mean you’re a grinch or have let the season go.  In fact, sometimes, it’s exactly the opposite: you want more than anything to be able to feel the Christmas cheer that everyone else seems to feel.

Right now, I’m at a personal struggle.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year and I told myself that finals were just a blip in my Christmas spirit radar.  I would spend a week unhappy, but then I could get back to happiness and excitement. I came home though and found that was not the case– no matter how many Christmas songs I listen to or movies I watch, something just feels off.  

A hard part of self-care is checking in with where you’re at emotionally and not beating yourself up if you aren’t where you want to be.  It is okay to not feel overwhelmed with excitement during Christmas, even if you wish you were. It is okay to feel sad or alone or confused.  I’ve said it before, but I think we, myself included, could all do to hear it again: it is okay to still be human during the holidays.

Despite this all, I’m still holding out hope that I can find my perfect Christmas cheer again.   Maybe, I’ve been looking in the wrong places.  Maybe, Christmas spirit doesn’t live in hundreds of cookies or fancy wrapped boxes with ribbon or pretty decorations around the house.  Maybe, every Christmas movie does have it right: it’s in the love that’s all around us every day.

 

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

Ranking my favorite Christmas movies!

From the time I was a child, the holidays have been the absolute most magical time of year to me.  One of the most magical parts of Christmas to me is the movies– there’s just no way not to feel Christmas joy when you watch ABC Family (now Freeform)’s 25 days of Christmas movie marathons. In college now, I don’t get to watch the 25 days of Christmas but during finals season when I get overwhelmed, I often take a break to watch a Christmas movie and afterwards, I always feel a bit more clarity and peace of mind.  Watching Christmas movies is my favorite holiday self-care activity.

In honor of us being exactly 20 days away from Christmas, I’m giving my ranking of my top five Christmas movies.  

  1. Love, Actually.  Recently, this movie has become the subject of much debate and unfortunately, hate, but I absolutely love it.  It has a million and one plot holes, the characters are ridiculous most of the time, but I can’t help but fall in love with this movie when Sam runs across the airport to declare his love to Joanna or the Prime Minister knocks on every door on a street in London to find the woman he loves.  It’s these truly outrageously cheesy moments that have me watching this movie at least five times every Christmas season, without fail.4099872673_2375d80dcf.jpg

 

Christmas Shoes.  This movie, I believe, is the most underappreciated Christmas movie ever.  It’s a made-for-TV movie that aired on CBS and starred Rob Lowe. It’s also based upon one of my favorite Christmas songs.  This movie makes me cry my eyes out, but reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas: love and giving. It is a movie that should not be missed.879319287_257fb71233_b.jpg

3. The Polar Express.  I remember going to see this movie in 3D in theaters when it came out and feeling so absolutely immersed– my dad can tell you, I kept reaching my hand out to try to grab the ticket.  I walked out feeling like I had just been at the North Pole and seen Santa himself. I even put one of the reindeer’s bells on my Christmas list the next year, desperately wanting to live the Polar Express.  Even today when I’m older, I feel that same type of magic for the Polar Express– it’s like I’m there at the North Pole each time I watch it.The_polar_express_logo.png

2. The Santa Clause.  In my house, this movie is the ULTIMATE classic.  It’s one of few movies that can get us to all gather up together in the living room to watch, without anyone complaining that they wanted to watch a different movie.  Tim Allen will forever be my favorite Santa Clause– he’s hysterical in his original denial of the Christmas spirit and eventual complete embrace.

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DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!
1. The Year Without a Santa Clause. They call me Heat Miser, whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch.  Heat Miser and Snow Miser are two of my favorite Christmas characters ever and the Miser song is so great– I lowkey quote it all year.  It also features another classic Christmas song, Blue Christmas. This movie just leaves me feeling so happy at the end and I just feel like it has the warm-fuzzy feeling you expect of Christmas.  

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Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

Sometimes, we just wish for the past.  There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with our present, but something in us longs for an era gone by.  That’s the nostalgia kicking in.

My week started off with a midterm on Monday and has been followed by a packed schedule of interning, tutoring students, and juggling my extracurriculars with my academics.  It’s one of those weeks where there’s nothing really bad happening, but it still feels overwhelming. To add to matters, I’ve been starting to feel stir-crazy at school, just wanting to get out of Washington, D.C. for a little while and breathe.  What is this all the perfect recipe for? A lot of nostalgia for my Disney College Program.

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Working at Storybook Circus with two of my favorite people, Abbey and Amanda

My time at Disney wasn’t perfect and yet, there is nothing more that I yearn for at this moment.  I’m craving the winter days spent at water parks, the days spent laying on the Hub grass with a view of Cinderella Castle, and the unexpected perfectness of random days spent eating all the food Epcot had to offer.  It’s been six months since my program ended and as I’ve finally gotten used to school again, my time in Disney feels like nothing more than a fantasy I created. It’s become my perfect dream.

As I think about my time at Disney and this craving I have right now to go back, I wonder: is it the place I wish for or is it the people?  I have not seen many of my friends for six months now, with no end date to this separation in sight. As I think of the days I am looking at nostalgically, I realize it’s the people who make the stories so beautiful.

It’s ranting with Kelsey over noodles and ice cream.  It’s car rides home, singing Taylor Swift, with Julie. It’s the long talks at 2 AM with Destiny.  It’s gossiping with Sadia. It’s the smiles (and groans) that were shared with Jordan as we passed each other during a work day.  It’s the photoshoots with Jenn. It’s the laughter in the kitchen with Beth Anne. It’s the adventures with Kelly. It’s the random late nights with my coworkers who became my best friends.

I could go on for years, listing the name of each person who made my time at Disney so special.  I realize now that it’s not the Magic Kingdom nor the rollercoasters, not even Mickey or Minnie that I’m so badly craving and am nostalgic for.  It’s my people.

When it comes to feeling nostalgic, I think it’s important not to push those feelings away.  You long for a time for a reason: find that real reason, not just the surface one. However, don’t dwell on your longing.  You cannot live in the past and if you do, you miss out on the present.

I am grateful for my college program and I am so grateful for the people it brought into my life.  However, I will not dwell on my longing to be back in a day gone by. Rather, I will think of my friends and know that as Mickey always says, I’ll see ya real soon.

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