Thursday, August 31, 2017

Things I Need to Tell Myself (2)


August 11th 2017. 

It was a rainy afternoon in Bandung, and strangely enough, I'd found myself in a peculiar small cafe in the Dago area. Art installations, wooden furniture, and a pleasantly quiet atmosphere made me feel very much at home in this little place I randomly decided to visit. 

Alone, I had a table to myself, overlooking a view of mountains, trees, and hillsides from a distance. I'd ordered a warm, sweet drink, and my first thought was, I should've brought my book with me today. Making the most out of the situation, I simply sat still. I admired the sight of nature displayed in front of me, my fingers embraced the warmth of the cup I had in my hands, I felt the gentle mountain breeze sweep through the room, and then I paused.

A lot can happen in a pause. In this case, I paused and I began to reflect. What a whimsical year it's been (so far), and boy, what magnificent hopes and dreams I had for the next several months. Like any writer would, I decided to take note of them; all the thoughts, contemplations, and life lessons that started surfacing in my mind and came to me like that mountain breeze. The list below, unedited, is what I wrote down, in that rainy afternoon.

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1. The world doesn't stop for anybody. Time doesn't pause just because you need it to. 
So embrace this life of yours that doesn't stop moving. 
Because it's all you have, and it's all you can do.

2. Hot chocolate is good for the soul, and any health 
magazine that tells you otherwise is not worth your time.

3. Find a person who sees all of you and still wants that
You can't spend the rest of your life only being a part of who you are.

4. The rain is nature cleansing itself. 
We (and our activities and cities and "plans for the day") are just standing in the way.

5. Love is simple, life is complicated. 
That's why it becomes challenging for the two to simply co-exist.

6. You do not have to look, or talk, or live, or be, like everybody else.

7. Master the art of being alone without being lonely.

8. Different experiences come from different places and different people. 
In a pursuit of an interesting life, there is no use only sticking to what you know.

9. Write in a journal but make is as messy as your life feels like. 
Pretty is boring, make it annoyingly unreadable.

10. In this world, there will always be art that you cannot comprehend, 
the same way that there will always be people that you cannot understand.

---

I'll write again soon.













Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Life Lately | Why I Haven't Been Writing


You can find many bloggers who come back from a weeks-long hiatus, and start off with a post explaining why they've been gone for so long. The reasons vary, but they usually fall along the lines of "feeling uninspired", "swept up in work", or "we just moved into our new apartment and everything has been so crazy!"

I, on the other hand, have no excuse.

August has been amazing. Recently, I'd just spent a week traveling out of town, in which there were many exciting and enriching experiences. Our country just celebrated our 72nd Independence Day, and I spent the whole day in the fun of celebrating. In a month, I've been catching up with distant cousins, high school friends, and also meeting new people. Many, many things happened in the past few weeks. It's been one of the best months I've had.

So honestly, I have tons of blogging material!

Yet I haven't brought myself to write a single word.

I tried writing poetry; it usually only works when I'm feeling something very deeply. Nothing came out. I tried piecing together words to create a poem, an ode to my country. Re-reading it was like tasting bread that'd gone bad. 

I should write about my travels! But as I landed in my hometown and took a few days of much-needed rest, I came out feeling immensely empty. It was like standing with a fully-functioning microphone in your hands, speakers on standby ready to blast your voice into the air, yet no words escape your lips.

---

Writing is my therapy, and blogging is something that my soul simply aligns with. I love it with a passion, and have truly missed it after all this time; especially with all these unwritten stories circling my head. 

But more often than not, I find it a little... daunting.

In a previous post, I'd mentioned it as a "strange paradox"; identifying as an introvert but still sharing all my thoughts and honest feelings on the Internet. The thing about introverts? Whatever comes out of us, it's probably only our 20%. The other 80%, we keep stashed away in different pockets of our personality, shielded safely from the rest of the world.

Many have read my blog. Hundreds know where to find it, and an undescribable amount of people have access to it (hence, the Internet.) The last thing I want to do is to turn it into something I've never wanted it to become; a chamber of lies.

When I've written about hopes and dreams, yet still become terrified of the future, or when I've written about "confidence", yet I struggle day by day with trying to even like myself, I feel like failing already. It's no secret that I always care a bit too much about what others think of me, but building a facade around my insecurities is not how I want to be known. 

Another thing I also never want, is for my blog to make me vain. I am not the most important being in this world, and as much as I enjoy writing about self-discovery, I've found that there are other things yet to be discovered as well. Other experiences to invest in, other people to learn from, other things to bring you joy. I think taking a few weeks off of blogging have opened my eyes to at least that.

---

As much as I want to keep writing in the hopes of inspiring people and sharing what I have, vulnerability is one of my biggest fears.

However, now, it's so strange to think that anyone can just click on a link and have access to all my deepest thoughts. Do I overshare on this website? Have I spoken too much? Should I stop writing about real emotions at all, and just focus on the more weightless stuff, like beauty and fashion and travel and books? 

In real life, I can do several things, but opening up to people is nearly an impossible task. Does that mean they can just find my blog and read all they want and the next day, they'll have me all figured out?

I remind myself repeatedly, it's just your 20%

But the timid little introvert living inside of me keeps reminding me as well;

that's still way too much.

---

Perhaps this is me saying that I'm "back". Whatever that means. Or maybe it's me saying "I'll write when I'm ready". I still don't know; I guess time will tell.

In making this post, I've realized that after all this time, maybe it's not that I have nothing to say; it's that I have too much to say, that I end up not saying anything at all. The thought of putting myself out there again has become too frightening, that it's made me slowly inch back into my shell.

Maybe I'll "wait" for that inspiration and new courage to come, or maybe I'll just have to force it out of myself, even if it means writing like a toddler on training wheels, with repetitive words and tacky metaphors. But I have to start somewhere, and I know I'll start someday.

On the bright side, my life has not decreased. I know this post might have sounded a little melancholic, but I am the happiest I've been in a while. I'm very pleased with how this month is turning out so far. I am pushing forward in a better direction, even without talking about it all on my blog. In other words, I guess I've been too busy living.

And for that, I'm not even sorry.

---

Thus marks the end of my rambling today. I can only hope that this 
makes sense to whoever reads it. Thank you for sticking by.
I'll see you around.




Friday, August 4, 2017

Reasons to Declutter Your Instagram Following

Everyone's decluttering something.

In articles and videos that discuss Productivity, Better Living, and Improved Mental Health, many bloggers and YouTubers mention "decluttering". The ~modern era~ has given us a whole world of clutter, and we've filled our lives (and homes) with it. But as many suggest decluttering your wardrobe, bedrooms, and apartments (which I'm all for), today we discuss decluttering something that we may come into most contact with; our social media.

"Social media decluttering" is a term I use that means narrowing down your social media scope to things that are only very important to you. A while ago, I deleted my Snapchat app, simply because it wasn't significantly useful. Even though I'll have to reinstall it in the near future (because it's the best app to use for staying in touch with my friends), the truth is all the app gives me is major FOMO. Instagram, however, is the one I use most; I enjoy seeing curated feeds, aesthetically pleasing photographs, fascinating captions, just consuming what others have created.

But in the same way one would watch what they eat for the sake of their health, I think that one must also watch what kind of media they consume for the sake of their sanity.

Uninspiring celebrities
// This sounds harsh, but let me clarify: If I had one (like, one) good reason to follow Kim Kardashian, I probably would've done it a long time ago. There's a reason I don't follow up on Kylie Jenner's "beauty empire" or Justin Bieber's shirtless studio sessions; I just don't see it as relevant content. A lot of people seem to have a love-hate relationship with the Kardashians, yet millions have chosen to keep up with them religiously on social media.

Using social media for entertainment is great, and I won't advocate unfollowing everyone from the family of Ks and start following NGOs and ~charity foundations~ instead, but think about it: How many people are worth of our follow just because of their looks? In the big names that you're following, are their activities that interesting/significant for your lives? If you "don't know why you're still following them", that's a good enough reason to stop doing so.

People you have no close relations to/people you barely see or talk to anymore 
// Of course, we always have a good enough reason to want to stay in touch, and that's a great thing that social media has given us the ability to do! However, it can be totally unnecessary if you're simply following everyone you come into contact with and then still continue to follow them for years after. It's a good idea to not choose to follow them if, 1) You've never seen/spoken to them again, real life or online, 2) You've never been properly introduced, 3) You only know them by a first-name basis and have never had any engaging conversations together, and/or 4) You share very few to no mutual friends. There's simply no need to keep up with the lives of people you barely know.

Fan accounts 
// Because I've used Instagram since the age of 13, it's taken me through countless phases of "fandoms". In the Tumblr era, I was that typical teenage girl who adored Selena Gomez, and then Taylor Swift, and then other artists, then TV shows, movies, and I'd look up all the fan accounts and join all the fandoms, double tap on the fan art, laugh at all their memes, and so on. Looking on those now, I'm getting too old for it. It's fun to enjoy "fan content" every once in a while, but lately I've been tracking down and unfollowing them one by one. Most are inactive, so they won't really disturb my timeline, but it did add a number to my followings list that I simply don't need.

Pages featuring hobbies/interests you're no longer into 
// There can only be so many watercolor-calligraphy accounts to follow, right? For many of us, our "interests" vary throughout our lives. In senior year of high school, you were interested in A, and before college you tried getting into B, and during college you discovered C and then enjoyed it. However, this results in many fields/interests that get left behind and would no longer appeal to us. Some things stick with us for longer, but you shouldn't feel bad just because you fill your days with different things now.

When I had a thing for calligraphy, I followed all the hand-lettering accounts I could find. Now, even though I still like it and play around with it from time to time, I obviously don't need a daily dose of content from 30 different accounts posting in that same category. Another example: Because I stopped pursuing fashion, I pushed myself to unfollow countless high-fashion brands, magazines, and designers. I just didn't have any business keeping up with most of them anymore, so aimed on finding some really good and consistent ones and stick to only a few of those. Keep your timeline updated, interesting, and relevant for your own life right now.

Pages that are toxic for your self-esteem 
// Before proceeding, I'll start by saying that if your self-esteem is threatened by use of social media, there are two things you need to learn to do: 1) Self-evaluating, working through your insecurities, and trying to acknowledge your self worth and gain that confidence (improving your self-esteem from within) and 2) Getting rid of the parts on social media that don't help you in the process.

These parts refer to content that doesn't inspire you. A while ago, I'd decided to unfollow Victoria's Secret because a) I don't even wear their brand, b) I'm finding the "supermodel" buzz to be increasingly cliche, and c) I know their Photoshop work can be a bit much. Subconsciously, we go through Instagram day by day while frequently thinking to ourselves, "I wish I had that life" or "I wish I looked like that instead." When we filter/replace our content, we give more space for our minds to start thinking differently.

So you don't have to eradicate all the enchanting parts of Instagram coming from many people with their ~glamorous lives~, but instead, try filtering them out and really understanding how their content makes you feel about yourself. Replace it with content that you'll find more relatable. Instead of following too many high-end-life luxury fashion bloggers, I narrow my search to smaller bloggers who lead more normal lives, or bloggers with whom I share mutual thoughts or interests. We should do our best to not give social media that much power over how we view ourselves and our own lives.

Do feel free to follow me, though *wink* | @joanneamarisa
How to spot other accounts: If you think that your list is still too long, even after filtering out the ones I mentioned above, what I tried doing was going to my followings list and searching for them manually. Because of the new algorithm, sometimes they'll show you the most active and relevant accounts first on the list, so what I do instead is I click on the Following's search bar >> Type in any letter, or any pair of letters >> Start screening the list from there, and repeat on other letters when you're done!

I mean if you come across some accounts everyday that don't do anything for you, then why still keep them on your following list? Don't we at least owe it to ourselves to be more discreet and mindful in filtering the content we allow to make its way into our Instagram-leisure-time?

So far, I've made a vow to keep my Instagram following below 1,000 people (because who needs to keep up with a thousand different people?), and after decluttering that list recently, I've cut it down to about 960. I still have a lot more to cross off that very long list.


Has this article helped you? How do you prefer to use Instagram?
Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

See you around.