The craziest year I remember is drawing to a close, and like most of humanity, I’m questioning what I want to do going forward. One of the things I’ve been realizing over and over is this:
SOCIAL MEDIA IS STEALING MY JOY.
We all have different responses to social media. Some thrive on the interaction. Some have found their community that makes them feel a sense of belonging (similar to how I felt in early days of blogging and livejournal). For others it’s a drain. A game of comparisons. And feelings of insecurity.
It has been all of these things for me at some point.
I’ve taken a break from posting on Instagram since before Christmas, and even though it’s only been about a week, I feel a huge burden lifted from my shoulders.
You see, I wasn’t posting my own content all the time. I would find dresses, vintage images, other things to inspire others and create a little community. And between my own content and the others, it worked. My following grew to 35K this year. All organically.
So why was I no longer having joy from posting?
If there’s something I know about myself, it’s this. As soon as I’m expected to do something- be it and expectation from others or an expectation from myself- I don’t want to do it. It becomes a chore.
This becomes a double-edged sword when you’re a small business owner who does most of the work alone. Because a lot of those tasks NEED to get done in order to support your family. But some of them? Maybe they’re not so important.
And maybe I need to remember why I started doing this in the first place. The joy of making and the joy of discovery. And the joy of learning and then teaching.
Yesterday, as an experiment, I deleted Facebook from my phone as well. I wanted to see if I got an equal amount of peace. And most of the day I did! I spent my last full day of Christmas break with my little girl and my husband and didn’t check my feed because it had become a mindless thing to do while I sat on the couch. Instead I engaged. I dreamed. And in the evening I actually went through and pulled out my pattern boxes and thought about things I wanted to make and learn from and share with others. That joy hasn’t come through in a long time.
By late last night I wanted to show a few friends what I had found so re-installed the dreaded app. And by this morning I caught myself mindlessly scrolling. And mindlessly commenting.
And then it started. The app was closed. The phone was down. And I started worrying about what I said. “Do I look self-centered?” “Was I not sympathetic enough?” “Could what I have said have double meaning and be taken out of context?” Simple things. Things no human in their right mind should even second guess. But the social anxiety started.
You see, for some people, social anxiety doesn’t come only from in-person conversation. It also comes from the online world. And in a world where black and white text has to convey meaning and feeling, it’s not unusal for things to be taken in a way which never would be seen if you were in person and could see faces and hear tone of voice.
And it’s just struck me how much I miss the joyful sound of my friend’s laughter this year. 2020 is hard.
A few months ago, as a challenge to myself, I started playing with Youtube. Wondering if I tried hard enough if I could monetize it and offset my time it takes to make sewing tutorials with some form of compensation. As a small business owner I have to wear many hats, and the tutorials have become so useful when someone has a question. A visual really is beneficial.
But, true to form, I set expectations for myself. “I must put up one a week.” So I did that for a month and a half or so, and- YEP. It’s a chore now.
I really do like making videos and sharing knowledge, though! And what this blog used to be, seems to have moved over to YouTube for many people, as social media grows and expands and people make different platforms.
In reality, it takes me a FULL DAY to make each little 20 minute video. And I’m not even an editing queen. I’m not a videographer or a personality or an artist. I’m just videoing my face talking, and my hands doing. And it *still* takes that long.
With all social media I have to make a conscious effort not to watch videos or posting styles, or sewing creations of other people or groups, because I so strongly want to have my OWN voice and methods, and I don’t want them to subconsciously influence my sewing style or on-screen methods.
So 2021, here’s what I’m hoping for.
Firstly– Stop scrolling. I admire the work of others, but I don’t need it to influence my creative or business life.
Secondly- it’s ok that I’m self-reliant and dance to the beat of my own drum. I’ve always loved to do my own thing. And if I feel like I’m being influenced to keep up with the Jonses’ I need to remind myself my best work ALWAYS comes from what’s inside of me, which is often NOT usually what everyone else is doing.
Thirdly- I’m going to go where the joy is. If I want to make a killer 1950s coat for myself, I’m going to do it. If I want to make a video tutorial for an old or a new pattern, I’m going to do it. If I want to share on my blog, I’m going to do it. I allow myself to sew, make, and create. Because I deserve it.
Fourth- I’m not going to set a schedule for social media, and I’m going to be ok with letting them “ride”. Of course, since I depend on this business, I cannot do without social media altogether. I can still check comments and schedule posts remotely without it imposing on family or personal time. I will still update pattern releases and tutorials on social media, and I will revive my email list.
Fifth- I’m going to keep on working because I LOVE my work, and I LOVE my customers, and my family obviously needs it, but I always do my best work when I do it with joy and inspiration and out of a great desire to teach about technical skill and fashion history.
Sixth- I’m going to allow myself to accept that I’m not only a pattern maker, but I’m a historian and I’m a teacher. My job includes all three things. I know a heck of a lot.
Seventh- “Comparison is the thief of joy” and “self care is also important.” These two are companions. Maybe some live where they can see friends, and I miss that. Maybe someone can make several historical dresses a year. Maybe a pattern seller comes out with patterns faster than me. It’s OK. I don’t know what their life looks like and they don’t know what my life looks like. I need to be ok with moving at my own speed, and doing the very best I can with the task at hand- even if it means I sew dresses or release patterns once every six months or six years! No one else does what I do. And no one else does what YOU do, dear reader.
So that’s it. That’s why social media may not be the *best* for me. Do you relate? How do you balance social media and your personal or business life.