Creating is the act of paying attention to our experiences and connecting the dots so we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us.”

~Brene Brown

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My fifteen year old, Maggie, seems to “get” something beyond her years, yet the draw is still strong.

How did she give up stupidity for lent and choose creativity instead?

She got her face up.

No social media for forty-six days.

She says she gave up something, I say she chose something–creativity.

In the book, Rising Strong, Brene Brown explains creativity this way, “Steve Jobs believed that ‘creativity is just connecting things.’ He believed that creating was connecting the dots between the experiences we’ve had, to synthesize new things. He argued that this is only possible if we have more experiences or devote more time to thinking about our experiences. I agree–this is exactly why creating is such a powerful integration tool. Creating is the act of paying attention to our experiences and connecting the dots so we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us.”

This is exactly the choice Maggie made. Here’s her story:

February 24th, 2016 (First journal entry-Lent started February 10th):

For Lent this year, I decided to give up Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. I did not know how big of an impact those apps had on my life. Now that I’m forced to actually be in silence with my own thoughts, and not know what everyone else is doing, my mood has changed COMPLETELY. Let me tell you something…it’s been about 2 weeks since I’ve been on any of them, and I have genuinely been more happy & content with my life.

But today, I got an email from Instagram saying, “We’ve noticed you haven’t been very active with your account lately. You have 5 new likes, 3 new comments, 3 new tags, and 8 more followers.” My mind began to focus on those numbers & raced–wondering, “Who? What’d they say? Why? How long ago?” 

While I read this email I was in the middle of health class, sitting next to one of my good friends. I read the email out loud, and she said, “I can check for you!” Of course, I wanted to know, so I said, “Yes.” She went onto my Instagram and looked at the pictures I was tagged in. Not having any self-control (which I had just read about that morning in my devotional), I took her phone and began to scroll through all the things I’d “missed.” I admit, I even went onto the profile of a guy I have liked forever, and began to scroll through his photos, checking if there were any comments from girls. Sure enough, I saw comments from girls, and my heart felt like it dropped into my chest. 

My mood had been so happy and content, but those small things that seem ridiculous, completely shattered me. If you pause to think about it, it’s crazy! Crazy how one comment can completely transform my mind and alter my mood!

Social media always takes from us. It never gives.

I think it will, I hope it will, but I need to realize that it never will. The problem with social media is not that I’m able to connect with people’s life and enjoy their pictures. It’s much more than that. I’m not really “seeing” another’s life. I am only seeing highlights. I need to stop envying others based on what I see on their “timeline” or “profile.” I know I don’t post when I’m crying and wishing my life was like someone else’s. No, I try to make it look good, like someone else’s. This is messed up!

Another thing I’ve noticed since I’ve given up social media for Lent is that I’ve stopped taking as many pictures, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to post them. That was messed up too! But the good that has come from that is, I am living more “in the moment”, instead of thinking about taking a picture so that everyone else can see what I’m doing.

Social media is changing our moods and influencing our minds. I think we should be careful, because I sure don’t want my life to be “less” than what God meant for it to be! I wish I cared more, and was more present in the moment with the people I’m actually with.

I honestly didn’t realize the impact this has had on me until I took it away. A lot happens when something really important is taken from us. If someone would have asked me a month ago if I was obsessed with social media, I would have said, “No.” But now I’m willing to admit that I’m addicted to social media. I say that because I’ve missed it, thought about it, and wished for it back.

Lent ends soon and I thought I’d be happy because I could have it back, but, honestly, I’m not happy that my “excuse” to be off is coming to an end. A lot of me really wants this part of my life back, but another part of me doesn’t. I want to feel “connected” again–to see what others are doing and to also show them what I’m doing. But the reason I don’t want it back is because I think I’ve finally realized something pretty important…

The people who have the best life are the people who don’t have to make everything public. They experience life without the distraction of, this will look good on my feed. My cousin, Tay, is someone I really love and admire. Tay and I are six years apart and grew up on opposite coasts. This Thanksgiving was the first one I remember spending with her. When we went around the room and said what we were thankful for, Tay talked about the gift of being present and living in the moment. She’s someone who’s not grown up with Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. She uses a flip phone and is one of the most present people you’ll ever meet.

What sucks about this memory for me is that I missed it in so many ways. I was busy that day texting, snapchatting, and watching other people’s Thanksgiving instead of living my own.

Lent will be over soon, and I wish I still had the “excuse” for not being on social media. But what I am going to remember is that God has given me a choice, and he wants me to be the best person I can be. He reminds me each day who’s I am, and my purpose on this earth, which is to look up and experience why Jesus came; So that we may have life,and have it in all fullness. ~Maggie