How I embraced letting go, and cleared my mind in the process.
It should come as no surprise, seeing as how infrequently I’ve been sharing with you, dearest readers, that I historically have a problem with follow-through. There are several reasons for this- performance anxiety, wondering if anyone is reading this at all, wondering if this will make me look okay when I try to get a job in the professional world when I’m done with college, etc. but there’s also the fact that as much as I love writing, I have a hard time committing to it. Somewhere in my room, I kid you not, is a fully finished novel that I have never shown to anyone and anytime I crack it open, the poor thing gets a complete plot and character overhaul. Because I’m… you know. Funny like that, or something. Suffice to say, writing is a beloved hobby of mine, but something I’m private about, mostly so people don’t discover how many rainforests I’ve single handedly taken down by
handwriting every single cursed draft.
All I remember was thinking, “Good god, who do I have to screw to make sure that never happens to me again?”
The biggest roadblock, however, to this particular endeavor, has simply been that I have a complicated relationship with technology, and overstimulation. One of the most important things that happened to me in 2021 is that I found out that I have ADHD. This makes complete sense to me; I have been known to turn from a perfectly good natured, happy girl, to a raging bitch if I hear too many noises at once. I become excited about new projects and tasks, but the second the project or job requires too many unknown steps or an unknown result, I lose interest on such a visceral level that I cannot bring myself to perform the task, even if I have days on end of free time. I need background noise to do just about anything, and I am particular about sound levels, light, touch, and textures. I also have a history of failing classes that don’t interest me, because if I’m not interested in the subject, I cannot force my brain to engage in it long enough to complete an assignment. I’ve managed to combat this thankfully; knowing what the problem has been my whole life has helped me to break the pattern (more on this later) and I can try to cultivate success. I am not saying this path is for everyone; many people have crippling symptoms of ADHD that are impossible to fully overcome. I’m only so open about my successful attempts to mitigate my brain chemistry because I still cannot believe I wake up in a house I love, and pay my own rent for, and that I am a successful student. To someone who has had a lifelong struggle with impulse control and academic performance, these two things alone are enough to blow my mind. But this feeling of accomplishment was still not enough to break me out of my patterns of self-imposed harmful restrictions.
All this being said, it’s not hard to see why I have trouble updating this site as often as I’d like. It feels like a monumental task, until I am doing it. Then it’s fun! But my problem in arriving at this point, to the point where I can update and write consistently, stems from the overstimulation I experience when it comes to technology. I’ll share a quick story to illustrate my point.
As a teenager and young adult, I absolutely hated the idea of the Apple System supremacy. This distaste came from an incident in my best friend’s home, while we were doing homework. She got a text message, and her TV computer, phone, and tablet, all at once, made a noise. The sound seemed colossal; probably because we were watching Grey’s Anatomy at an inhumane volume on said TV at the time, but all I remember was thinking, “Good god, who do I have to screw to make sure that never happens to me again?”
So I resisted the apple system. I had the tablet, and an ipod classic, but I saw no upside to every device being flooded with the same notifications… Until I did. The need for something I hadn’t ever explored before became more urgent as I began to wear more hats.
I am a student. I am a dog mom. I am a blogger in my own right. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I also perform various social media tasks for others on a more professional level. And I was doing all of this with a samsung galaxy, an iPad pro, a lenovo laptop, so many notifications my phone was constantly hot to the touch, and so very little sleep it’s a miracle I could remember my own name.
My samsung phone, that I love, was overcrowded. I was running four instagrams from it, and it was absolutely killing me. Feeling overwhelmed was a constant. Not only were the notifications constant, but every time I opened my phone to send a text to do something I enjoyed doing or needed to do, I had to scroll past all the things I wanted to do and failed to complete. I felt chained to my phone and inundated with my own failures.
I tried to convert to running this blog and my instagram from my ipad, but I still needed something phone sized to carry with me to get out of the cycle of using my phone to take photos, sending it to myself via gmail, hopping on my ipad or computer, using that to post the photo, and then repeat.
This was also my system for my professional social media endeavors.
"I was adding five extra steps by clinging to an imaginary rule; No linked Apple devices!"
This rule that existed to keep me from getting irritable and overwhelmed was no longer serving that calling. It was making everything complicated and even looking at my personal instagram page filled me with resentment. It was absolutely miserable.
I knew right off the bat, when I sat down, tearfully, to solve this problem of too much inertia with no enthusiasm for any of the places that energy should be going, that I couldn’t afford another phone, which would have been my preferred solution. And then, I kid you not, it came to me.
The ipod touch is a phone-sized, outmoded little piece of technology that includes a one time payment, no phone plan, required access to wifi to do literally anything, and every other basic function of an Apple smartphone. With a grimace, but feeling hopeful for the first time in months, I ordered an Apple iPod Touch 7 from the Product(Red) line, and waited. The thing arrived, much smaller than I expected, on a Wednesday. I pulled it out of the box and admired it; cool, unscratched, the color of the scarf still in a drawer at Maggie Gyllenhaal’s house, and with that new equipment feel that told me that, if I hadn’t done the right thing for my blog and my health, at least I’d spent a chunk trying. That day, I downloaded all my apps, deleted them from my trusty samsung, and logged my personal phone out of two of the four instagrams I am charged with maintaining. It was like coming up for fresh air. I was drowning, and this little ipod saved me (Grey’s Anatomy fans get me). I took a moment to connect my ipad to my ipod and began communicating with people using my professional apple ID, and relished in the idea that this iPod had been made sort of obsolete by the forward march of the smartphone, but that I had found a use for it.
Moreover, the features that made the smartphone preferable to this little computer, were the very things I loved about it. I can now do my work, then turn off my iPad and iPhone, and use my phone to call my mom, or talk to the girl I watched Grey’s Anatomy with who’s devices inspired my stringency. My work, and this website, as much as I love both, no longer follow me wherever I go. There is a clear and present division between my personal life, and the life of my story in the trees. The relief I felt was instantaneous, and immediately, new ideas started pouring in. That moment brought the thought to sit down and write this story that you’re reading now. In creating separation and distance, I became more open minded. I had room to breathe. Like sitting in a circle at lunch on the playground as a child, when I realized that if you scoot back, and open up the circle a little, new friends, new ideas, new beliefs, are more welcome to join.
The fictional President Jed Bartlet, played by the incomparable Martin Sheen, in one of my favorite shows, The West Wing, once remarked in a voice filled with wonder, “This is simplicity itself.” Jed was referring to a loophole that would aid him in the far loftier goal to save a national park, but I didn’t, and frankly still don’t, care that my scope is much smaller. I hadn’t solved a worldwide problem, but I’d saved my mental health and my willpower to write more, and make this website and my web presence everything I wanted it to be.