When I stopped posting on Instagram and Facebook last year, I never intended to take a break for over a year; it just kind of happened. I guess perhaps I got too good at breaking the social media habit. But the habit of staying away is just as powerful.
A few weeks ago, as I prepared to reengage online, it felt important for my process to navigate through the resistance I felt to engaging on social media and returning to it.
Why did I leave in the first place? Why did I stay away for so long? Why return at all? Why now? What are my fears about returning? What have I learned?
So many reasons. So many lessons.
Some make me sound brave and courageous: choosing to devote my time and energy to my healing, to stay present to the world around me, to engage with actual human beings in front of me.
All are good reasons. All are true.
And, at the same time, all are lies masking fears.
Fear of the consequences that might result if I shared some things that were going on in my life, fear of the consequences of speaking my truth, fear of the chaos that awaits online in these pandemic times.
The one thing common thread in all of this was stories.
So. Many. Stories.
I started to write it all out. I poured the words onto the pages of my physical journal and onto the screen.
And then I stopped.
Typically, I love a good story. But suddenly, I was over it. I had enough of the stories.
I put it away for a while, and when I returned to it I found it insufferable to read through.
I’m so tired of the stories. I have no patience for them right now.
Stories Give Life to Fear
Here’s the truth: I’ve been hiding, filled with shame and fear. The reasons for this are for another time.
One of the things I’ve realized in recent weeks is that it’s not really the fears that drain us, but the stories.
Stories give life to fears and home to shame.
The stories themselves become a form of escape. Without the stories, we can more accurately confront what we’re feeling and work with the underlying emotion.
We hold onto our stories for dear life. We identify with them. We become them.
I don’t want to live in these stories anymore.
When I free myself from the stories, I notice a surge in energy that I can use to more productive pursuits. Releasing the stories is one way I create space for my best work.
Without the story, the load we carry is much lighter. When I find myself carrying fear or shame, I can move through it with greater ease when I am not invested in the story that is giving it life.
This empowers me to move through life with more ease and grace. Who doesn’t want that?
Even Stories Need a Winter
The lessons I extracted are important and useful. But, like the many other things from the past year that I didn’t share, they will keep until the time is right to share them. Maybe in a blog post. Maybe in a workshop.
Sometimes it’s good to let things sit before we share them, the way you let a turkey or a cake sit before you cut into it after you take it out of the oven. You need to let things settle, let the juices meld.
With the passage of some time and space, maybe a different story will emerge.
Honoring the rhythms of nature means trusting that there will be a time for sharing what’s relevant. Stories need a winter too.
Trust the Experience to Speak For Itself
There’s always the part of me that wants to give context, to tie things together for my audience and my readers.
There are times when the story gets in the way, when it’s more effective simply to release the story and show up, trusting that your presence is enough.
I enjoyed a year of experiences — from the highest highs to the lowest lows — without forcing myself to mold them for a social media story. In the same way, I can allow the experience of my return to be as it is without molding it for a story.
Letting our life speak for itself might be the most empowering story we can tell.