The Offering – Journal Entry
When my phone began to double as a cuddle buddy and a night-light, I thought this is just what single 20-somethings do in 2016. I was merely consuming critiques of current events, pop culture updates, and intimate happenings of “friends” and “followees”. But when gory nightmares started I was forced to investigate my before-bed routine with a microscope. It’s relatively easy to admit that my ceremonious social media scrolls consisted of comparing my physical body and artistic success to others. The more difficult truth is I enjoyed the self-depreciation that accompanied this habit.
As an artist that struggles with depression, social media was fueling toxic thoughts. It was reaffirming my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Social media was making the venomous voice of depression seem less absurd. When I felt unaccomplished or unattractive, I would go scrolling for proof and found plenty; “followees” with newly published book or “friends” with flawless beach snapshots.
After enough nights of waking up to terrifying images of being de-skinned, I decided to take a social media hiatus. This quickly evolved into a list of goals I titled The 6 Week Self-Love Offering:
- no social media
- be physically active at least twice a week
- drink at least 2 liters of water every day
- read for at least 30 minutes every day
- practice my craft for 1 hour every day
- begin and end each day with positive affirmations
I typed these commitments and formatted an official contract:
“I, ____________, am capable of committing to these actions for the next 6 weeks. Each Sunday I will check-in and reflect on my progress. I am investing in my well-being. I am turning intentions into realities. I am worthy of self-care and self-love. I am also deserving of self-forgiveness.”
If you’re reading this, I’m on week two and this shit has been really hard. However, the immediacy of the results is keeping me afloat.
1. Without social media my mind feels less cluttered. I even feel more present when I talk to people in person and over the phone. But when depression’s hyper-judgmental voice reemerges I have to confront her all on my own. I can’t feed the beast with status updates and Instagram likes. I arm myself with 6. positive affirmations and tell her to take several seats. I’ve also been listening to more empowering music, podcasts, articles, etc. This is the first song on The Offering’s soundtrack:
2. I’ve been attending dance classes twice a week (Jazz Hip Hop Fusion and Modern), along with teaching dance classes twice a week. I even tagged along to my roommate’s Tahitian dance class one Wednesday. Contrary to depression’s shitty ass opinion, I’m not as out of shape as I’d feared, my technical dance skills are still sharp, and I’m a very fast learner. I also surprised myself with how much 3. water I can drink in a day. After the first couple of days of sprinting for a restroom every fifteen minutes, my body adapted and two liters feels like a sip of water now. I’ve noticed a huge boost in energy. I feel more awake! I feel more capable of 4. reading for long periods of time. I’ve replaced train naps with reading, which makes my commutes seem shorter. I don’t know if there is a word for the sadness you feel as a result of the epiphany that you’ll never be able to read all the books you want, but I hope all this newfound energy will help me overcome (insert word). 5. Practicing performance and composition everyday has been the most challenging component of this offering. I’ve memorized more of my poems and edited a lot of dated writing. However, I’ve been struggling to complete a choreopoem I’m working on for a while. The process of creating this work has me in a very vulnerable space, in which I am not just exploring, but owning everything I know about dance and poetry. The execution of this project doesn’t work without complete confidence in my skill set and my content. The beauty of The Offering is acknowledging that I’m not there yet, but genuinely believing that I am capable.
Although there have been some days when I fell asleep before saying my before-bed affirmations or forgot my water jug at home, I’ve been impressively consistent. Instagram keeps sending me tempting emails about checking my account activity. I remind myself of the bloody nightmares when I think of logging in. I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in two weeks. Of course I have anxiety about re-entering the world of social media once The Offering is over, but it’s definitely helpful to repeat “ama be good” over Archduke’s handclaps.
Nicole hates wearing shoes, loves pancakes with crispy edges, and is still trying to figure out when a handshake is more appropriate than a hug. Instead of fulfilling her kindergarten dream of being the voice-over for read-a-long cassette tapes, she is using her BA in Poetry to excel as a full-time poet & teaching artist. Nicole currently resides on the east coast, where she enjoys eating dollar pizza and watching people fall asleep on the subway. She is a staff writer for Sula Collective. You can find more of her work on her website.
Images by Sophia, you can find her on instagram.