And let go
it’s just life after all
and you’re doing
just by living.” ~ Atticus
There are worse things to be addicted to than Instagram, right?
I fell deeply and madly in love with words—specifically, on Instagram.
I fell in love with reading other people’s words and, eventually, sharing my own in that tiny boxed space. I fell in love after spending many hours scrolling and searching for words that would bring loving voices to my world.
I did this during a quiet marital separation and divorce. A time spanning multiple years. A time without language—when few words were shared between me and my husband. And a time that was terribly confusing to process.
At first, I sought words and meaning online, including life advice from complete strangers, young and old. Advice, sometimes prepared as delectable prose—offering some nuggets of wisdom, and a bit of a distraction. My search took me to promising and false lands. And I explored in a concerted effort to avoid looking within myself.
I was swept away on Instagram by the emotional tug-of-war that had me subscribing to my feed for apparent synchronous, meant-to-be messages, crafted (I believed) to guide me to my next purpose. Even when I knew that at a heart level, the only person who could guide me to my purpose was me. And this had everything to do with choice and believing in myself.
I was vulnerable, and I was addicted to the beautiful persuasion of language.
And perhaps this sounds a tad dramatic. I mean, there are worse things to be addicted to than poetry, right?
And besides, not all was lost. I learned to write and express myself creatively in this space. I began to develop my niche as a confessional writer. But eventually, my post-divorce transformation felt like a competition between me and the Instagram world. A competition to be better. And in the process, I felt that when I did write and post pictures I had to prove that I was, in fact, improving.
This high-vibe fixation had me continuously missing out on the true value of expression, of using my genuine and authentic voice. The kind of writing that could help us grow deeper into truth and acceptance. The kind of writing that heals.
And, after years of feeding on Instagram memes, my eyes did become wiser to the nuances of social media. Specifically, I often noticed that at the root of the way we communicate was a kind of shaming practice. A judging practice that shoots out memes steadily, rushing us to be better or to self-improve, without any attention given to individuality or health inequalities such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. A practice that does not always allow us to appreciate and love who we are now.
As we post, we unknowingly become know-it-alls and forget place and privilege.
Psychology Today defines know-it-alls as having particular behavioural characteristics and dynamics, such as an underlying insecurity, a genuine sense of superiority and grandiosity, a combination of the two aforementioned, and difficulty with intimacy.
I have been a know-it all in my language and posture on social media; in fact, I am still working on healing this aspect of myself. The aspect of myself that buys into keeping up with high-vibe culture and pressed smiles. Or judging behaviours—laced with micro-aggressive tones. The part that uses a few short lines and sweet, cryptic-words, instead of penning who I really am and how I really feel.
Instead, without knowing a single true thing about someone, we often go ahead and tell our feed to let go, heal, slow down, be alone, be better, work harder, to do this, or to do that. As crazy as it sounds, if it is done well, with catchy phrases written with performance as the goal, people will be mesmerized. People will listen. And the result? We will allow complete strangers to dictate our emotional state and sometimes our path forward.
I may have fallen in love with words on Instagram, lovestruck by the possibility of and dreaminess that an imaginary world of romance and emotional quick-fixes invites. But, truth be told, I had writer’s block here as well.
Until we write from a true place of curiosity and self-kindness, we will have a harder time accepting ourselves and recognizing that it isn’t about change; it is about self-love and honouring who we are now.
Here are three ways my authentic voice showed me the path to real love:
There is so much to write about when we awaken to the life we are truly living. Not the one we are hoping for, or seeking, but the one that is ours—at home, in our community, at work, and in the spaces and places where we play and communicate with others. When we awaken, we can acknowledge our internal struggles, but not stay fixated on them. We can find common ground when we offer ourselves and serve others. We can experience life from a place of authenticity, and document how it feels. We can heal ourselves by being real. We can help others by living our truth.
Holding space means keeping an open heart and loving ourselves as we are. We can do this without judgment, criticism, blame, or second-guessing. Holding space helps us realize our self-worth, starting with the belief that we already have value.
When we believe we have value, feelings of self-confidence multiply. Self-confidence provides us with the backbone to establishing consistent boundaries. When our worth begins to add up, we become careful about how and with whom we spend it. We learn how to trust and do what is best for us to heal, over time. We can extend this practice to others as we become grounded.
Holding space for another is a powerful way to support higher levels of awareness. It’s not about control or shaming; it becomes about creating a healing space that is nurturing, peaceful, and creative. No agenda necessary.
Once the act of searching slows, and eventually evolves to a gentle halt, we will notice how much time we have to do the things we truly love. For me, this meant writing articles using my real voice. Articles I hoped could be of benefit to others. I also dedicated my time to causes I cared about as a volunteer. I realized that once I became community-focused, the very act of checking my Instagram constantly lessened, and I became more engaged with real-time connections. This included having a sense of purpose that extended beyond me and the virtual world.
Throughout our lives, we may find ourselves in situations where we are vulnerable and seeking validation. Don’t get me wrong, Instagram and the online world can serve a timely purpose during these times. It can be the very distraction we need if we are choosing messages in accordance with our truth. Besides, there are online communities doing amazing things, and plugging in can be of great benefit to our growth. Plus, we all have a love story to offer.
But in the end, it is up to us to decide. It is our choice which voice is the one that guides us. If we give our own authentic voice a chance to speak, we may be surprised to learn how incredibly smart, brave, funny, loving, powerful, and pure we are.
We may be surprised to learn that everything we were ever looking for exists within us. When we hold space for the deepest love of all time, we may realize that we are actually inviting ourselves home. And this can be the most beautiful expression poetry can offer us.
“You will outgrow your self-identity
many times like old skin.
This alone should be the proof that
you are greater than all of it.
The joy is always in catching up with yourself.” ~ Maryam Hasnaa