When you don’t use social media, you can make time for your creativity offline instead of fitting it in when you’re not online.
As a 24-year-old living in a world of social influencers, from YouTube stars to Instagram models, I sometimes feel like I’m living under a rock. As someone who has been introverted her whole life, I never felt the need to keep up with trends.
I like to keep to myself and follow my own interests. That’s why I am constantly surprised at the pressure people feel to keep up with social media, and the latest trends online, especially us introverts. Let me tell you a little about my experience with social media.
Getting off ‘the Gram’ (and Other Social Media Sites)
The last few years in particular, I found it exhausting to try to keep up with people online, catching glimpses of their everyday lives, and making sure to post the “right” content that would get some “likes.” As an introvert, I’d always felt anxious in social situations, and tended to be quite quiet among groups of people. I also tried to fit into an extroverted mold during early adulthood: going to parties, joining various groups in college, and making my life seem way more extroverted online than it really was. I think we all go through that phase, and I think it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while. But…
Then something strange happened. I’d always loved movie nights by myself, drawing, and listening to music in my pajamas. It’s my happy place. Being cozy inside my bedroom is my introvert haven — my fairy lights twinkling on the wall keep me calm. However, it was around the end of my first year of college when I realized I hadn’t been spending time alone, an introvert must. Instead, I was constantly trying to socialize, I would meet up with people during lunch breaks, and I started losing my sense of identity. Basically, I lost that precious introverted world that was my happy place.
I started thinking, “What is happening? I feel lost!” And, I was lost. I was lost among the maze of social media hierarchies. I was being pulled in the direction of popularity and social status. That was when I knew I had to change something: I had to reclaim my introverted world and rebel against the mainstream noise. I needed to retreat, and find my happy place again. So I quit social media.
I just woke up one day and decided to delete my Instagram and Facebook accounts. It was scary at first, because I thought I was going to miss out on things, or that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my friendships. The truth is, I felt relieved. And it’s now been three years.
Privacy Is Precious (and so Are Your Thoughts)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to speak your mind. This is something I think a lot of introverts struggle with, and maybe it’s the reason some of us lack confidence, too. (I know I still struggle with this.)
But, I don’t believe speaking your mind on social media is always the right thing to do. Even though many people try to be authentic online (which I appreciate!), I think there are other ways to “speak” your mind that don’t depend on how many “likes” you get or how many followers you have.
Plus, social media can have a negative impact on your mental health. Jacob Amedie, author of a paper entitled “The Impact of Social Media on Society,” wrote that: “The constant release of the stress hormone cortisol, from heavy social media usage, over time causes damage to your gastrointestinal tract (gut), which opens the door to an immuno-inflammatory response in the body and brain, leading to depression anxiety…”
So I encourage you to get off social media and get on with other hobbies and interests in real life. After all, there are plenty of other ways for us introverts to “speak” our minds.
5 Ways for Introverts to ‘Speak’ Their Minds Without Social Media
1. Journal your thoughts, no matter how small or large.
Although journaling is a great way to process difficult times, it’s also a great way to process your everyday thoughts and feelings, too. And research shows it’s good for our mental health, too — it can help you reduce stress, manage anxiety, and help you prioritize your problems.
Putting something potentially personal on social media, on the other hand, leaves you open to possible negative reactions. But with journaling, it’s for you and your eyes only — no one needs to agree (or disagree) with your thoughts and feelings for them to be validated.
2. Blog about your favorite topic or life passion(s).
I’ve become a huge fan of blogs recently, including Introvert, Dear. (If you leave social media but still want to follow the blog, you can sign up for their email newsletter here.) Although I’ve been reluctant to start my own blog — who will read it?! — I’ve been reconsidering the idea lately. I mean, it doesn’t matter if anyone reads it! The thing is, I want to write a blog for myself, which I think is the beauty of blogs. They create a space where you can write your observations and thoughts on anything you’d like.
To me, there’s a more intimate side to blogging. It’s not just a one-off social media post amidst an endless stream of content. Rather, it’s something that will stay online for a long time and you can look back on it for years. Plus, people will probably be able to relate to it, and you’ll find that many others feel the same way you do about a certain topic or interest of yours. Pretty soon, you can have a whole community of people following your blog (again, like this one does for all of us!).
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3. Create something offline, like a piece of art.
This is by far the biggest trap of social media: the idea that you are “creating” by posting every day. I know that some social media posts are beautiful and do take time and effort, but… there is plenty to create offline, too. To calm your nerves, you can create art, bake some goodies in the kitchen, or take up embroidery.
There is a beauty in working with your hands, taking your time, and letting your ideas flow. (Plus, this gives us introverts lots of alone time!) Online, I feel creativity can get blocked by everyone else’s creations and thoughts, leaving you barely any time to catch your breath.
4. Practice mindfulness, whether you do yoga, meditate, or breathing exercises.
The best way to keep your mind happy and healthy is to make sure you appreciate it every day, which can mean practicing mindfulness in various forms. Whether you do yoga, meditate, breathing exercises, run yourself a nice bath, or spend the day baking, self-care is not only important, but also good for you, especially in terms of reducing stress.
Allowing yourself to focus on self-care activities gives you confidence in yourself. When we spend time with ourselves, we tap into our inner voice that tells us what we really want in life. As introverts, it is easy to get caught up in the mainstream, but being unique and having our own voice is more important than just fitting in.
Social media can distract us from looking after ourselves — since we’re looking at other people’s lives — so make sure to look after that amazing brain and body of yours!
5. Exercise and get those endorphins up.
Exercise is key to keeping a healthy mind, body, and spirit — it increases your endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, which boosts your mood.
It can be easy to fixate on an Instagram photo where you might not look your best, compare yourself to someone else, or to just feel down that you aren’t as popular as other people online. However, the comparison online is toxic to our mental health, and as introverts, we already may feel shy or insecure. That’s why it’s even more important to make sure you’re exercising daily, and feeling good. (And don’t forget — a lot of people use filters and don’t actually look like their online photos in real life!)
Everyone has time to exercise — even just a few minutes here or there; it’s just about choosing health, both physical and mental, over scrolling. And, trust me, it will always make you feel better than a “like” or follow. This was the number one reason I stopped using social media, and why I am focusing on producing more art, writing, and making time for my creativity instead of fitting it in when I’m not scrolling.
Introverts Have the Ability to Be Alone and Appreciate Quiet, Offline Time
“I teach you rebellion! Come out of the masses. Stand alone like a lion and live your life according to your own light.” –Osho Gangadham
I love this quote and feel introverts should rebel against the age of influencers. In my opinion, we hold a special power in the modern age of influencers and social media, that power being the ability to be alone and appreciate quiet time. It might not seem like something spectacular, or even important right now, but I believe that it’s our defense against the noisy online world that wants us to constantly be involved and participating.
After deleting my social media a few years ago, I created them again as work accounts for my freelance work as a writer, and to promote my art. I had the accounts for three months… and then stopped using them. I gave in to the idea that I needed them for my work, I needed them to become successful, I needed them to get more followers…
But you know what? I don’t need to sacrifice my happy place for the possibility of success. Because if success comes at the cost of my mental health, and my individuality, is it really worth it?