Well friends, I’m taking a social media sabbatical! For me that means I’m signing off Instagram for a while and I’m excited, definitely a bit nervous if I’m honest, but 100% confident in it being the next best move for me.
I’m not stopping working at all, I’m still going to blog here, maybe throw in the occasional rough and ready YouTube from life, and I’ll still be pouring myself into my Beautycounter role I love. But I’m closing down the daily social media window on life for a while. There are a few reasons I’ll unpack, but as I’ve thought about this for a long time there’s one main one I come back to:
I’ve never been a mum without social media.
When it comes to parenting, I often think about being the first generation to hold this “mum” role with a mini computer in one hand, right? First isn’t always bad. First can be groundbreaking, a gift. And in so many ways social media is that. For a decade it’s been a gift and creative outlet where I LOVE the community, the learning, the incredible people, I love sharing things I really care about, and seeing you encouraged and making your own changes I care about so deeply.
I love being on a journey together, with you.
But, I’ve never parented without this window on our world. That’s wild to me. I’ve never been a mum without a phone in my hand, content glasses on and present in everything I do, figuring out how to share life. All with a very open window on our world. Having a creative outlet and a business to run has made me a better mum, I’m certain of that and I’m not pausing all of it. But the social media part has also evolved a lot in 10 years and it’s time for a sabbatical to learn myself again without it. From being a faceless platform where I didn’t use my name, to the introduction of 24/7 stories when my first child was one, it’s a train that hasn’t stopped.
A LITTLE HISTORY
My account first came to be when I made an instagram account over breakfast one morning 6 months into marriage. I’d made oatmeal with banana hearts on it to celebrate half a year marries and I posted it to the app. I didn’t tell anyone. It was a personal challenge to grow an account without telling anyone, I grew my account silently for fun. 100… 200… 400…800… A few months in, one morning I started seeing hundred and hundreds of new followers with no idea why. My sister did some digging and texted me “You were shouted out as an account to follow by Vogue!” I kept on posting about our journey with food; a very vegan Londoner and a meat eating American trying to eat together.
Next came thinking I’d won the lottery. I hadn’t made a cent online, but I got sent some chocolate for FREE from a small batch chocolate company in Southern California. Then a DIY almond milk kit. I remember spending a morning in our California townhouse lining up hundreds of little almonds on a folding Ikea table for the perfect post about the “free” kit.
My first sights at a job that actually earned money kind of through the app was when Jared got me doughnut pan one Christmas. A quick first attempt at some gluten and dairy free doughnuts went up online and everyone wanted recipes. Very naively I offered to put them in an ebook for followers. The funniest part of this whole story to me is: I’m NOT tech savvy. At all. When I quit my salaried job 4 months pregnant with my first child I spent 14 hour days on tutorials learning how to write an ebook and build a website and work anything I had to use. I felt Clayton’s first kicks in my tummy writing that ebook. I thought it was a USB tapping my tummy as I worked and it took me a long time to realise it was little 19 week baby kicks!
The next month, I started creating actual doughnuts out of our kitchen. It was a business that exploded quickly and when we launched the paleo baked doughnuts, with the help of social media, hundreds sold out in our small town coffee shop in 30 minutes. A few months and thousands of little cake circles and instagram posts about them later – I was mid making a ginger pistachio batch when I went into labor. (That whole story is HERE) Jared pried me away from my baking island to the hospital, telling me I did not need to finish them and take them to a coffee shop en route. There began my 4 week maternity leave which while luxuriously long for America, was just not long enough for the human body. In fact one of my online life regrets is twice showing what I thought (and had been taught) was “strength” post partum as I raced back to normal life, perpetuating normals that need so much deep change.
The juggle of creating a baked product at home during nap time got harder and harder and in 2016 I closed the doors on wholesale and focused my business more online: instagram, ebooks, partnerships with brands, and blogging about our lives more. That same year stories rolled out and there was an extra place to need content even more 24/7. I began to talk more about other journeys we were on spurred on a lot by motherhood – What clothes were we putting on Clayton, how were we lowering waste, what we were learning about our footprint in sourcing everything, a new learning journey about all the places our impact needed to be more positive. I started using instagram to share the things we were learning and doing. And it was a journey people wanted to see. From weekly lower waste grocery hauls, to ethically made clothes, to makeup that was better for my body, I started sharing more of our every day life and faces.
There’s also been an evolution on the app and my own journey that keeps me more cautious in sharing always and that is:
I’m not an expert
I’m actually a veterinary school drop out. I have a degree in… nothing. And I’m very conscious of that when I come to the app. I’m not a certified anything other than a person on my own journey. That is exactly what I wanted to share on the app – our journey. To let people into our journeys and share what we were doing from our journey with food, to lowering waste, changing what we used on our skin, how we sourced our clothes. But the more followers you get the more there’s the illusion of expertise, and less recognition you’re on a journey and honestly, it scares me a bit. I don’t create confidently, knowing people will consume content knowing I’m just a non expert on my own journey.
Also, sometimes in sharing I get caught in a weird “in between”. I’m so so deeply a champion of the journey; the idea that we’re human and change needs to be made of small celebrated steps. But sometimes I get overwhelmed by the need for change. Overwhelmed by the change the world’s people and environment needs from us. I think: “we don’t need another person talking about a low waste product, or ethically made clothes, or well sourced mica in makeup… we need me to take my family off grid, use our land to grow our own food and raise some chickens, never fly, and never buy a new thing ever while campaigning for change at government level on many things.”
And yet, we’re all human and we take small steps. So I want to speak to those small steps but sometimes I doubt if that’s the right move or if I should be more revolutionary. Am I misleading people to think that small steps are ok? I’m not an expert, I’m just someone on a journey probably not doing enough, like so many others!
And then there’s emotional capacity.
Something I’ve been learning about a lot over the last few years. If we were getting coffee together we’d talk a lot more about emotional capacity – it’s a big learning area for me. Parenting, and parenting while working has pushed me to the limits of my emotional capacity. And sometimes beyond. The “beyond capacity” months I didn’t share much publicly because I was in it and couldn’t also share it, but along with some therapy and life coaching they taught me a lot. While rough, they did help me develop a much more healthy relationship with online life. But however healthily I approach it all, I’m realising that some areas of life, like social media been given the emotional capacity I need to save for my children and my own health. I’ve always drawn a clear line between work and motherhood. I don’t work when I’m around my children and I’m strict about that. I get up at 5am and I work nap times but where I’m rigorous about being physically present, I’ve ended up not always being emotionally present. What used to feel like agile moving between one thing and the next in life has come to feel like a whiplash meets RSI situation for my emotional capacity, and I need to change that! There are some pieces of work, some kinds of screen time and online activity that fill me up, and others that take emotional capacity I don’t have. And that’s why I’m keeping on doing the work I love, but taking a few months away from social media. My goal is to post a bit more on the blog some of the every day bits from social media in a different form, and sharing a bit more on email HERE each week. I’m still very much in my Beautycounter world (that’s the main part of my income) but just with a closed window on social media for a while.
How long it is for and what next?
I know I’ll be off all summer till September and the start of the school year. I need a time long enough to relearn life and really see it withoutPS social. I need time to see what happens to me and to business with a new approach. After that we’ll see but I’ll keep you fully updated in my little email chats which I’m planning to bring a bit of video to and you can get HERE.
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