“Some nights you drink tea, some nights you drink whiskey.” – Atticus
You might have noticed that I’ve undertaken a lot of monthly challenges lately. I’m constantly pushing my limits to be the best version of myself. I try new things, cut negative habits out of my life, and try to make time for what is important. Amid all the slashing and replacing and changing, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that balance is the key to a happy life.
Deep down, I think we all know that. It sounds so simple. Balance. It’s something we are told from an early age — balance, balance, balance. Despite the idea being drilled into our heads since day one of being able to make our own choices, it’s still hard to achieve when you’re being pulled in a million different directions.
If you are a new reader, in February, I cut carbs from my diet, and in March, I stayed off of Facebook and Instagram. I undertook both challenges for a variety of reasons, but mostly, I was looking for a way to improve my mental and physical health, something we are all trying to do in order to achieve our best selves.
If you want to read more about my experience with the Keto Diet, check out my blog post dedicated to the entire experience. Long story short: I really enjoyed what the diet taught me about my dietary preferences, meal planning needs, and food consumption, but in the end, it was too restrictive and costly. While, on average, people eat WAY too many carbs per day, it’s healthy to munch on an apple (high in carbs) or pita chip every once in awhile. One of the most important lessons I learned from cutting out carbs was how easy it is to go crazy restricting calories or over-eating, which is why balance is key. It’s the difference between having a slice of cake and eating the entire thing in one sitting. For me, balance in my diet has always been hard to achieve because 1) I’m a lazy chef, and 2) I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world (I’ve eaten a whole bag of Cadbury Mini-Eggs for dinner before and not felt even the tiniest bit sick), which is why it’s so important for me to meal prep and have sweet alternatives available at a moments notice. Balance. Have one Cadbury Mini-Egg, not twelve.
I learned a similar lesson from my month without Facebook and Instagram. While it was incredibly freeing to log out of the platforms and open up my time to learning through Skill Share or reading, I honestly missed seeing what far away friends were up to and sharing updates with my family. I know that sounds crazy. You’re probably thinking, “Just call them, or text them,” which I do. But in the age of social media, I feel like many people are more likely to post about their life than directly share it with a friend. Which is sad, but true. If you are around my age, we grew up knowing what someone was eating for lunch, and while it isn’t all that important, it’s still nice to be able to look up a friend who is around the world from you and see what they are up to on social media.
The first week free of Facebook and Instagram was exhilarating. Ask my friends. I was truly happier and more productive than I think I have ever been before. It was like a huge weight had been lifted. But after that initial high, I didn’t feel as much satisfaction throughout the rest of the month. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be? I’m really no expert. But I found that while life without social media might be better in some aspects, I truly did miss sharing my life and seeing what others were sharing. Again, what I learned was balance. It’s okay to check Instagram every once in awhile but getting sucked into the depths of Facebook stalking for hours on end is incredibly unhealthy. It’s also important to note that you aren’t going to miss something just because you haven’t checked your phone in five minutes. That Instagram post will still be there tomorrow morning. Go to bed. Social media, like food, books, shopping, etc., is great when you let it be a natural part of your life. Nothing is good in excess, but if you are enjoying it — whether that be wanting to post an Instagram story of a beautiful sunset or reading a chapter of your favorite book or sharing a cupcake with a friend — I say do it. Just don’t let it consume you or your thoughts. That’s when things turn ugly.
Even though the biggest lesson I learned from these cleanses was that balance is key, I don’t think I would have learned it without cutting these things out of my life completely, even if for a short period of time. You only learn the importance of something when it is no longer there.
I’m not saying I’ve mastered balance. Or that it’s going to come easy. But I think it’s a good state to strive for, and I’ll continue to work on it every day.
Let me know how you plan to achieve balance in the comments below.