I vividly recall being both pleased and amused by my 6th grade career aptitude test results. They suggested fulfilling and successful careers for me might be:
A) A guidance counselor
B) A librarian
or C) a nun or monk
When I tried again in my early twenties, the results were similar. If you've taken one of these multiple choice test before, you know the questions focus on what kind of tasks you enjoy or excel at, how you approach problems, how you prefer to interact with other people, and what kinds of activities or conditions you dislike or cannot tolerate.
As I've been reflecting on what has kept me away from blogging the last two months, I've thought a lot about all the new careers that might be options on today's career aptitude tests, and what kinds of skills or conditions might be considered that weren't on anyone's radar back in 1996. I've been thinking there is likely some kind of matrix of social media tolerance, and that if I took a new test today, mine would rate very low, and it's not just me.
While I love writing and connecting with people, I don't enjoy producing social media content to drive people to read what I've written and engage with it. As a lifestyle blogger, the lines between self and career are erased, and every meal, every outing, every sweet moment with your family, becomes an opportunity for content creation. It's a dynamic I came to despise, and resulted in 2019 starting with a 95% exit from Facebook, cancelling my Tailwind account (a tool for optimizing your Pinterest presence as a blogger), giving up at my feeble attempts at Twitter, and rarely posting to Instagram anymore. I've had a few people reach out to ask if I'm okay, which I appreciate deeply, but my all-but-exit from social media has been a sign of health, rather than distress.
Last year was one of my most difficult years mental health wise in almost twenty years. At the same time, I was committed to growing my blog and online presence, and ended up taking it on as a barometer of my personal success and self-worth. At the same time, I was uncomfortable monetizing my family's experience, and was never able to fully dive in to that pursuit in the way that successful bloggers seem to. When health and technological set backs converged in the second half of the year, I was left without the tools or the energy to keep up with the type of growth and engagement I was judging myself on achieving.
As I slowly started to detach from those goals, and focused on engaging in real life, the fog choking the light out of my days, and standing between myself and my loved ones, began to clear, and now two months into the new year I am feeling the healthiest mentally and physically I have felt since I was a young child. I've learned that in this brave new world of careers, my sanity and productivity rely on a very low level of social media engagement, and a very high level of meatspace based work. I'm not against social media, it's a powerful tool; I just need it to make up 10% or less of my working hours.
I suppose I wanted to share all this because I know for every three people who reach out to see if I'm okay because they are worried I've stopped writing, there's probably a few more who have wondered but not asked. I also want to share this in case you've been struggling with a similar issue and have wondered if stepping back from social media might help. I don't plan to abandon this project entirely; I find connecting with people through writing very meaningful; I'm just not going chasing after them anymore, and my focus is on growing my in-person passions and projects.
Over the next six months, before the kiddo starts preschool, I'm going to be focusing on building my renovation and repair skills, my true love and constant obsession, starting with a weekend away (by myself!) next week for Yestermorrow's Plumbing for Homeowner's class, and I couldn't be more excited for it. I'm hoping by fall some of my big ideas will have turned into realities, and I'll be ready to share my new endeavors with you all.
I'll be seeing you, just not as often. And if you've thought about taking a big step back from social media too, I couldn't reccemnd it highly enough.