So here’s the thing with the internet.
Half the time I feel like it’s yelling at me.
Do more. Write more. Blog more. Photograph more. Hustle more. Create more. Post more. Be ALL THE THINGS more.
And so, without realizing quite how much I’m internalizing all those “more” messages, I pop myself right back onto my wee metaphorical hamster wheel and peddle like a mofo. Because heaven forfend I stop for just a minute. I might miss out. People might abandon me if I’m not living up to their expectations. I might suddenly look around and find I’m alone because EVERYONE ELSE IS PEDDLING FASTER.
The great thing about food blogging is there’s such a big, diverse and inspirational community out there. The wet-my-pants part of food blogging is basically the great thing flipped on its head: there’s always someone else out there who can blog more, create recipes faster, be available 24/7 no matter how busy or perfect their life appears on the surface. Step on up, folks, bloggers are here for our weddings, bar mitzvahs, children’s parties, anniversaries, vacations and more!
I mean, when people are still keeping up with their business social media accounts on their wedding days, I’m starting to feel like this whole thing is getting a little bit counter intuitive: how healthy can we “healthy” food bloggers be when we’re apparently drowning in the need to keep up and not stop for one minute?
And while the sane part of me is questioning how healthy it can possible be to be always on and always available… the scared part of me is wondering WHY I CAN’T KEEP UP when everyone else seems so freaking perfect. Because I’m human and apparently we all love a bit of masochistic self-comparison once in a while. Or something.
But I’d bet my now-sodden-pants that almost everyone feels the need to hamster hustle at some point. Because it’s near impossible not to internalize that messaging of “success comes to those who drive themselves half into the ground” that the internet seems to bombard us with. “Just don’t stop or you might miss out”, it whispers in our ears. Oh, and don’t forget to HASHTAG ALL THE THINGS and look perfect while you’re at it.
And I’d bet you a clean set of undies that we bloggers aren’t alone in that fear of losing momentum and letting the façade slip. When it comes to success, the internet often yells at us that it will come IF WE JUST DO MORE. If we just blog harder. Mom harder. Friend harder. Spouse harder. (I’d add “sex harder”, but I’m not Ash Ambirge.)
And that, my friends, is the biggest recipe for autoimmune implosion EVER. Or just, you know, the general destruction of a healthy self esteem. No biggie.
Stress, anxiety and the ever-constant nagging feeling that we’re just not trying hard enough and just need to HUSTLE HARDER, DAMNIT. It’s the perfect storm. And a purse-sized umbrella isn’t going to cut it.
So I just took about a month off blogging. I didn’t post any new recipes, I didn’t blog, I didn’t put anything on Instagram. Why? Because I found myself feeling guilty – while celebrating my WEDDING ANNIVERSARY – for not posting enough or “keeping up with” blogging. And I realized how negative a voice that was in my head. I mean, I probably shouldn’t be worried that I haven’t posted enough today on my anniversary, right?
SO I JUST STOPPED.
I read books and walked barefoot in the grass. I stopped following what other people were doing. I stopped using social media to beat myself up. I stopped worrying about creating because I felt I had to. I wrote self indulgent drivel and bought journals and pretty pens. I enjoyed my garden and lying in the sun and time in the mountains. I took obnoxiously long baths with bubbles and wine and candles and all that girly shit. I spent time with myself and my heart and my soul and I just: listened. I finally, truly had a glimpse of what it meant to care for my self.
Social media-wise, I disappeared.
AND NO ONE CARED.
No one noticed what I didn’t create. They didn’t notice my silence. They didn’t notice I wasn’t present.
Which was the very thing I was terrified would happen. Oh, look: I’m invisible! No one cares, no one needs me, everything I feared while laying in bed at 3 am about being unimportant and a failure just came to pass.
AND IT WAS AWESOME.
At this point, you’re wondering if I’ve had too much to drink on a Wednesday afternoon, right?
But the truth is, stopping and being totally unnoticed in any way was absofuckinglutely liberating.
BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO THAN NOTICE WHAT I LACK
The fact is: people notice what I DO. They notice what I create, what I share and what I give to the world. And if they’re not looking at what I’m not doing (yay double negatives)… that means I’m free to do whatever I want. Whatever brings me joy. Whatever speaks to my soul. Or my stomach. I mean, I am a food blogger after all.
Which means that I can happily throatpunch that BE MORE, WORK HARDER, EVERYONE’S BETTER THAN YOU voice.
And instead focus on being me. Self care pauses and all.
I learned that true self care was the iron clad hurricane shelter to the perfect storm of autoimmunity and negativity, stress and self doubt. Self care isn’t just painting your nails, buying some flowers or a case of #treatyoself.
It’s sitting with your soul. It’s stepping into your own voice. It’s letting yourself hear those whispers of truth that maybe you weren’t ready to listen to before. It’s taking the time to know yourself truly.
I learned that I don’t want to keep up, or hustle harder. I want to live vibrantly, healthily and happily in the face of my autoimmune disease. I want this space to turn into more of a community than a recipe index. I want us all to realize that we’re more than our social media presence.
And that sometimes, no one caring can be a truly liberating gift.
Although I’m easing back into my more creative endeavors starting September, I don’t want to lose sight of the lessons I’ve learned in the last month or so of listening to and taking care of myself. I’ll be taking part in the September Self Care program which starts September 5th and is just perfectly timed for me! Enrollment ends Sunday 4th September at 12pm PST. You can follow along on Instagram whether or not you’re doing the program yourself: just watch out for posts using #septemberselfcare if you’re interested!