on being present

Hi there! It’s been awhile. I’ve had a lot of thoughts floating around in my head of blog posts I wanted to write, but couldn’t quite figure out how to put them together, which is partly why it's taken me so long to write anything at all. I eventually discovered a common thread throughout these random thoughts. I want to be more present, and I am struggling with how to do that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of technology and social media in our lives- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I absolutely love how connected I can be to people I don’t get to see often, how information is at the tip of my fingers, and how mindlessly scrolling through my social feeds is a nice way to unwind from the day. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel a little bit like we were maybe better off before these conveniences. (Side note: do you think people have always felt that way about new technologies? Like cars or microwaves? I feel like this is probably a common reaction.) Sometimes, I feel like I start to worry about a lot more things that I maybe wouldn’t even be aware of without technology. Like when you look up symptoms on WebMD and suddenly find several new diseases you didn’t know about, but that now become your utmost concern. Or hearing on the news about someone getting attacked in a place you’ve always felt safe, but will no longer feel that way. Or seeing that your friends are all out on a Friday night and feeling jealousy and shame, even though you were perfectly content with staying in before.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not about to go off the grid, flush my phone down the toilet, or throw my TV out the window. I value the ability to stay informed and keep in touch. And I love a good Netflix marathon! So I’ve been grappling with how I can only take the pros and leave the cons. Do I stop using certain forms of media altogether? Clean up my feeds? Check them less often? Simply adjust my mindset when using technology and social media?

There's one thing I know for certain: I don’t want social media to take me away from being present. Sure, it’s great to scroll mindlessly at times. But I don’t want to be distracted when I’m with friends or family or even occasionally when I'm alone. If I've chosen to stay in on a Friday night and watch a movie, then that's what I want to focus on. Not what everyone else is doing!

I've had other thoughts about not just being present in the moment, but being present in a phase of life. As an introvert, I have a rich inner world that’s filled with hopes and possibilities. I’m a dreamer. That’s not something I necessarily want to change. But I also don’t want to spend so much time daydreaming about the future, that I miss what’s happening right now. For example, I’ve recently been spending a lot of time looking for an apartment and getting excited for that next step. (If you didn't already know, I currently live with my parents.) Even though I’m excited to be on my own again, I’m also trying to cherish this time in my life: nightly walks with my mom, eating great home-cooked meals, having access to a swimming pool, hanging out with the dogs. I sometimes become so anxious and excited for the next step that I forget that what's happening now is something I was excited for at some point too!

It's easier for me to gain this perspective when I look back on different phases of my life so far (hindsight is 20/20!). I remember each phase with fondness, even those that were difficult or I was desperate to leave behind. I know eventually I'll look back on myself at 23 and realize how good I had it. But it's important to remember that now. It reminds of the famous Andy Bernard quote from the finale of The Office: "I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them." I want to remind myself that now is always the good old days. Be present.

If you stayed with me and read the whole post, kudos!! I really, really want to hear your thoughts on this topic. What is your social media use and consumption of news and information like? Do you face the same struggles as I do? What are your best practices for being present in the moment and in this phase of life? Please share, as I feel we can really learn the most from one another.