Today, I don’t feel like writing.
I left work with a longing to write something powerful, something that would stick. Then I sat in front of my laptop and all that went to poot.
Sometimes we think too hard about what we want to write. Topics come and go, mostly because we take in a lot of content.
But I noticed a correlation: I ignore my thoughts in place of someone else’s. I take their ideas as better than mine. And in the process, I trade my value for what doesn’t belong to me.
I have a strong feeling you do the same.
In this world of content creation, we have more than we need to consume. Books are everywhere. Podcasts are in most ears. And vlogs push viewers to be their best selves — or at least, to be like the vlogger. We don’t have much time to think because we don’t give ourselves much time to think.
Every moment is filled with things we don’t really care about; we’ve just gotten used to it now. We’re force-feeding ourselves what we think is popular. To be in the know, you have to stay up to date with that stuff. Only relevant people to that.
But what do you really care about?
I ask myself that question a lot, and it scares me how often I can’t find an immediate answer. I think I know. But what comes to mind is superficial. It only sounds good.
The Fear of Missing Out
Life isn’t about saying or doing what sounds good. It’s about doing what matters to you. You don’t want to live to please other people, because you can’t. Someone somewhere won’t like a decision you make. And yet, life is too short to care about failing as a people-pleaser.
How many times have you tried to ignore something everyone else was watching? It was no doubt hard to focus on what you were doing with all the commotion going on.
Most of us hate feeling like we missed a major event or new release. We crave to be in the know. But sometimes, that’s the pothole that flattens our tire.
John M. Grohol, Psy.D. describes the fear of missing out as something that beckons us in obscurity.
“It’s the potential for simply a different connection. It may be better, it may be worse — we just don’t know until we check.”
Because we want to know everything that’s going on, we can’t be bothered to create what we feel in the moment. The life we live is more like a vacuum than a projector. We suck in way more than we put out.
It’s true: you only live once. But what are you doing with the life you have?
Are you doing what matters to you?
Or are you doing what matters to someone else?
The moment you decide that every decision from now on will have a purpose, you will move in the right direction. That doesn’t mean you have to take life too seriously. But it does mean you make use of your curiosity — and often.
Develop a Filter
It seems that we’re attracted to what’s popular because of just that: it’s popular. If people didn’t love it, most of us wouldn’t care to waste our time consuming it either. But a lot of that has to do with not being connected to ourselves.
Libby Simon, MSW speaks about this overload of information in our society today. And much of it harms the way we go throughout our challenging days.
“It’s is not only businesses that experience an inordinate volume of information but ordinary people trying to cope with navigating life’s [sic] challenges, like well-meaning friends sending jokes, stories, and scam warnings, unwanted promos, and a multitude of assorted clutter.”
We’re so disconnected from our own interests that we replace them with what everyone else is into, then we lie and say it’s authentically us.
Stop deceiving yourself.
Dig deeper than your social feeds and you’ll see a surprising version of yourself. That’s the real you the world needs to see.
It starts with developing a filter. And it requires you to be honest. The next time you see something — whether it’s a video, shoes, or a song — ask yourself: Do I like this because I like this? Or do I like this because everybody else likes this?
I didn’t realize how much of my decisions were conditioned based on what I saw on social media. I associated what is popular with my personal taste. Those are two completely different things. Your taste doesn’t always line up with the majority. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine.
Give the Social Feeds a Break
If you’re really serious about getting to know your interests, taste, or both, take some time away from social feeds altogether. Rather than spending all day staring at other people’s lives, you can enhance yours.
- Talk to people who are actually in your life.
- Spend time with those who pour into you and vice versa.
- Repurpose your consuming time for creative time.
You’ll get a far better picture of what life is all about when you step away from the artificial paintings on your smartphone.
An example would be that of Sarah Newman, MA, who quit Facebook to help her mental health. She could see the damaging effects it caused, including comparison.
“Social media is a great place to present the best parts of our life while cropping out all the hardship. We’re convinced that life is easier, more successful, and more fun for everyone else.”
Think about it as a sports game/match. Highlights are great. But they don’t show the little details that made the final score possible. A foul that was costly; a turnover that changed the course of the game; a substitution that was unnecessary. They all matter. And some of them aren’t as easy to deal with as you might expect.
It’s the same way with your life. Every single detail, decision, or goal you set out to reach should have meaning. They only carry value when you inject yourself into them. And often, that requires a break from virtual reality.
Check-In On Yourself
The other day, a close friend of mine called me. I honestly wasn’t in the mood to talk because of how much work was on my desk. But he simply wanted to know how I was doing. After hanging up the phone, my mood lifted. It felt good to have someone check in to make sure I was mentally, physically, and spiritually okay.
What if you did that with yourself on a regular basis?
We love to push things off as if they don’t exist. Sooner than later, though, they will show themselves. And it usually isn’t the prettiest sight.
Take action before it gets to that bad place. Manage your mental, physical, and spiritual inventory because it’s worth more than anything you can pursue in life. If they aren’t where they should be, trust me, no amount of money will matter.
The truth is, I didn’t feel like writing because I read more stories than I drafted. I didn’t feel like playing my guitar last week because I listened to more talented artists than I practiced.
Eventually, you find yourself in a state that devalues what you have to offer. But stop and think: the content you’re drooling over could be ruining your progress.
The one life you live shouldn’t revolve around what you miss. It should revolve around the value and impact of what you create. So step away to see clearer.
Because just like the elements of a basketball game, the ball is in your court.
What will you do with it?
Kevin Horton is a 24-year-old photographer, student, modest bookworm, and wanna-be web developer with a new-found love for writing. He writes helpful words about creativity, productivity, and the enjoyably simple life.
Image courtesy of Danilo Cosmo.