This may not seem like a big deal, but for this millennial female who adores blogging, taking pictures, and keeping up with my friends – it’s a huge accomplishment.

I wanted to take a moment to share with you a few things that I have learned during this time off. God has used this year away from social media to help me find clarity and stillness while teaching/reteaching me a few amazing things:

1. I Don’t Need Social Media.

You do not NEED social media, friends. You can actually have a super healthy life with healthy relationships without utilizing social media feeds. Did I miss some announcements and big news that my old friends and acquaintances made over the past year? Sure. But did I keep in close contact with my family and good friends without really missing all the extra status updates from people I sort of know? Absolutely. Get this – you can actually text/mail pictures to friends OR show them in person!

2. I Crave Authenticity.

Real Bojangles sweatshirts, really crazy hair, real kitchen floor, real happiness

Giving up social media made me realize how deeply I long for real relationships and real people. I desire to fully know others and to be fully known. I do not want to be fully known by everyone, but I do desire to have extremely authentic relationships with those that I consistently interact with.

Social media can be such a toxic place of fake authenticity. I realized that I was making so many “authentic” posts that still were not clear and truthful representations of who I actually am. No, we don’t need to wave our dirty laundry around for everyone on social media to see, but it’s okay to show up the way that God designed us to be without fear of what others may think. For me, that means that I can scream from the rooftops, “JESUS IS LORD!” while also screaming, “I NEED A FRIDAY AND A MARGARITA!” Both are authentically me, but I realized that social media was only seeing what I thought was my “appropriate” or “good” side. I wonder how many other people do this?

I love spending time in prayer with the Lord, and I can also be straight-up sassy when I don’t get my way. Both are equally me and that’s okay. Sure, I want to grow into a better version of myself to serve God well, but dude – I am who I am. I desire to show up as the real Caitlyn in this world and I quickly learned that social media was masking too much of my true self. I crave authenticity – and I think that you do too.

3. I Desire Real Connection.

Real connection. I don’t want likes or comments, I want real relationships. I don’t want 1,000 “friends” or “followers,” I want a few ride-or-dies. Shoot, Jesus had 12 disciples and of those guys, he only had three really close friends. That’s what I want – a few great friends, and a select few that know my entire soul. There’s not enough time to give that much of myself to 1,000 people.

Social media can make me feel so lonely, y’all – which is the complete opposite of what it is supposed to do. I used to get online, post something, and feel the good feeling of having something liked or commented on, but then I would feel empty. Why? Because most of the people commenting on my stuff or liking my posts didn’t even really know me. It was a false sense of connection that I was using as a substitute for real relationships.

Flash forward, with the help of the good Lord, I can honestly say that I have some incredible relationships in my life right now – near and far. From friends, to family, to my rockstar of a husband – I have never felt so connected. I have so much to talk about with them because I’m not posting every little thing on social media. They have so much to share with me because they know that I’m not seeing their posts. Real connection is beautiful. I’m not saying that you can’t have real connection online (some of the best people in my life met their spouses online!), but be careful not to settle for surface-level, virtual friendships when God designed you for deep companionship.

4. There’s No Need For So Much Pressure.

I was being so stupid a year ago. I was stressing myself out with planning a wedding, trying to maintain this blog, trying to maintain a fitness blog, working full-time, and trying to write a book. Why?? I put so much pressure on myself to do too many things for no reason. When I cut out social media, that immediately got rid of my need to blog so much which immediately relieved so much stress and pressure from my life. Guess what I poured my energy into? PLANNING MY ONCE IN A LIFETIME WEDDING. I would never take those precious moments back and we had the best time of our lives.

Holidays this past year? This is our Thanksgiving picture:

No pressure. I wore what I wanted without the pressure to get a “perfect picture.” Instead, I got a memory – the sweetest picture of all.

You weren’t designed to be surrounded by pressure all the time. For me, worldly pressure escalated when I got on social media. Is there something in your life that you could say no to in order to have a little more space to just be?

5. I Desire Acceptance.

I hinted at my inauthenticity on social media earlier. When I dove deeper into “why” I was being so inauthentic, I realized that it was stemming from a deep desire to be accepted by those around me. I was changing who I was in order to be liked by others – so much so, that I wasn’t even 100% sure who the real Caitlyn was anymore. Taking time away from all the voices on social media gave me space to remember that the Lord loves and accepts His children exactly as they are. I don’t need the acceptance of so called “friends,” but when I spend so much time on social media, my brain will tell me that I do. I’m learning to accept myself and to praise God for the way He created me instead of searching for validation in the wrong places. God accepts me as I am and loves me exactly the way He made me to be.

6. I Desire Time and Space To Think.

Before I gave up social media, my brain was SO cluttered – all the brain fog, all the headaches (real, physical pain), all the tension. I didn’t realize how much brain room the media I was consuming was taking up until it was no longer a part of my life. I immediately was able to think clearer and sleep better when I decided to give up social media.

After a week of having it back, I noticed the brain fog returned. I don’t know if social media is entirely to blame for this, but it’s definitely worth noting that I think clearer when I put my phone down.

We all need space and time to think. During this year I had to get really comfortable with being alone. I spent time with my mind on the back patio, in doctor’s waiting rooms, on my lunch break, on long trips. Friends, God uses pauses to speak to us and give us rest. I am now so comfortable with being alone with my thoughts and I am also comfortable with thinking nothing at all.

7. Social Media Boundaries Are A Necessity.

Too much of a good thing can definitely make it a bad thing. I wanted to set a few boundaries since I know how crazy I can get when it comes to my social media consumption. I’ve decided to allow myself to have social media back on a few conditions:

  1. I will give up social media for one week out of each month (Shout out to Hannah Peck for this awesome idea). Giving up social media for a week out of each month will serve as a reminder to what this past year was like for me and will – hopefully – help me to stay grounded in who I know God wants me to be.
  2. I will only get on social media from 8:00am-8:00pm. This eliminates early morning and late night scrolling which were both things that I really struggled with. In full transparency, I’ve forgotten this rule a few times and logged in before 8:00 already, but my goal is to stay true to this time limit. My best hours are early morning and by 8:00 in the morning I’m usually already at work, so my hope is that my time on social media will be limited to a few minutes in the evenings, if any at all.

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