Hannah Durbin

A Bittersweet Farewell

Hannah Durbin
A Bittersweet Farewell

“You don’t owe anyone an apology for changing. You don’t owe anyone an apology for being different than you were a year ago, for wanting new things. Growth is a direction, not a destination - follow it ruthlessly; give yourself permission to become who you have always wanted to be.”

After taking a week to reflect on my decision to walk away from social media, I am surprised by the impacts its absence has had on my life. I’ll admit that Instagram holds both positive and negative potential, but by removing the existence of the platform all together, I’m relieved by the elimination of pressure, anxiety, and tension that followed suit.

Instagram served a monumental purpose in my growth. I will always be grateful for the guidance, strength, and reassurance it provided me with when I needed it most, but even more importantly, I will always be grateful for the lessons it taught me about the person I am, the things I want, and the life I aspire to build.

Although there are uplifting and inspiring aspects of Instagram, there are a number of unfortunate truths that follow closely behind. The most evident one I have noticed is that our society’s need for external validation is beginning to overpower our need and desire for real human connection. I never came to see the truth behind that statement until I stepped away from it, but now that I’ve tasted a life without the strong grip of social media bearing down on me, I can’t believe I never realized it sooner.

We hopelessly rely on the metrics of an online algorithim to grant us a sense of connection, worth, and happiness, but when those things fall short, we feel empty. We then desperately turn back to that same source to find something - a like, comment, new follower - to lift our spirits, and restore the blow to our ego we just took. We feel better for a moment, until the photo underneath of yours gets more attention. We then bury ourselves in feelings of inadequacy, succombing to hateful self-talk and low self-esteem. To dig ourselves out of that hole, we post something new in an attempt to receive that external validation we are hopelessly relying on for redemption. And before we know it, we’ve tuned out the real world, buzzing around us, so that we could devote our full attention to this exhausting process. When we take a step back and look at that from the bigger picture, I challenge you to ask yourself how many collective hours, days, or even months have you spent with your eyes glued to your phone screen?

We tirelessly search for someone or something to tell us we’re good enough. We spend hours upon hours creating an aesthetic feed, posing for the perfect photo, and building our Instagram following, when we should be focusing on genuine, real-life, face-to-face opportunities for connection. We attempt to artifically create feelings, situations, and experiences through a phone screen when the opportunity to do those things already exists right in front of us. Yet, here we are, every single day, prioritizing our online presence more than our presence as a living, breathing human being in this world.

Walking away from social media is finally allowing for me to experience life for myself, and has granted me the gift of living in the present moment. Rather than relying on superficial, uncontrollable metrics to determine how I feel about myself, I look elsewhere - both within myself and in the unconditional love of my family, closest friends, and unwavering support systems. Social media humbly taught me that there are many things I simply can’t control, including other people’s behaviors and opinions. I began to question myself in response to these judgments, and allowed for their negativity to strip away my self-assurance. Rather than surrendering to this spiral, I had to make a change.

I truly can’t explain just how incredibly freeing it is to be detached from technology, to focus on my own thoughts and actions, to live fully in each present moment, to practice mindfullness, to turn inward, and to separate myself from the things that were no longer serving me. I feel that by letting go of these things that were holding me back, I am opening the door to my fullest potential. My purpose is becoming clearer. My circle is growing closer. My life is becoming simpler. I am so grateful to be present and healthy. I am so grateful to have people rooting for me as I pursue my own path.

Moving to San Diego opened my eyes to the speed at which life passes by. I blinked and before I knew it, I became an adult. I moved across the country to live with the man I love, relocated my job, and closed one chapter so that I could open the next. I don’t want to look back at these transformative years and wish I would’ve just put my phone down to experience the beauty of these days. I want to live them, without distraction.

So, until next time, take care of yourselves and do your best to be here, right now.