Why I'm teaching myself to be less available to everyone
In the spirit of the new year, and really embracing a year of change and cleansing, I have decided to make some resolutions that I intend to stick with. In my journal I scribble the following: Incorporate more whole foods into my diet, eat less meat and dairy. Stay focused on my finances as I inch toward my goal of buying a house by age 30. Be happier every day and thankful for what I have. And, last but certainly not least: be unavailable.
Yes, you read right. Unavailable. Not in an emotional or negative way, just in a way that allows me to focus on what’s happening in the now.
Let me explain.
My generation has unfortunately been submerged in the idea of being “overly-available”.
With the age of new technology came tiny computers with everyone’s contact information at our fingertips. When we need to know something, we Google it. When we want to date, we swipe left and right. When we need a ride to the airport, we easily request a car to pick us up just by the tap of a screen. We don’t even have to dial numbers and talk to people anymore. Everything is easily accessible these days. We have become impatient. Very impatient. Long gone are the days of actually waiting. In this, so are the days of being unavailable to the world around you.
Why aren’t you responding to me? A text message glowed on my phone. I woke up to the buzzing beside my pillow. Three texts popped up. I had missed them after falling asleep with a headache from a busy day. I needed rest. I was tired. Why wasn’t I responding? Well because I wasn’t available. I was napping at 5 o’clock in the evening, and that was frustrating for the person trying to get a hold of me. Usually, I am quick to respond.
I stared at the text for a short period of time, and was mildly frustrated. I then realized that at times, I also have the same response when my partner doesn’t get back to me right away. When my family doesn’t pick up my calls or read my text messages and respond immediately. At times, my feelings are even hurt. How dare they have a life outside of responding to me? Why do I even have this stupid cell phone anyway? No one wants to talk to me!
It’s a struggle.
I remember back in my high school English class, when the fad of texting was alive and strong, our teacher told us something I will never forget and resonates with me more now than it ever has. She said, “Put down your phones, stop updating your profiles, learn to be unavailable. Learn to say no. Learn to be present.” It’s taken me a while, but with a year of craziness, I finally get it.
In 2016, I started running an online share-space for women called The Naive Melody, I created a young women’s support group (soon to be nonprofit) called Selfie Sessions, and I started writing for various websites along with still trying to be present for my partner and family. It all became overwhelming when I realized that I am making myself available to too many people and too many things. Toward the end of the year, I started learning to delegate tasks which alleviated some stress. But something I also needed to do was turn off my brain to all the unanswered emails, phone calls, texts and requests and let myself be in the moment.
So, in hopes of starting a trend in my generation, I have written out what I believe are the keys to being unavailable. I hope it helps if you decide to make this your resolution as well.
1. Put down your phone. Really, put it down. We see this message reiterated time and time again. Your cell phone is likely your biggest distraction from being present and unavailable. I have many friends who sit on their phones when we are supposed to be enjoying one another’s company. I’m guilty of doing the same thing at times. I have decided that my phone will go in my bedside table as soon as I get home from work each night, and breaking the habit of having my phone right at my side all day will be a must to practice unavailability.
2. Take breaks from social media. Unfortunately for me, social media is a tool I use for work purposes. Marketing, community outreach etc. are all necessary evils that are done by way of the internet. But in the new year, I plan to take breaks from posting about my life, or pictures of my life. I actually vowed that 2017 be a “selfie free” year. Not that I am against selfies, it just feels right to make that part of this resolution.
3. Delegate. I talked about delegating before, and I think it’s incredibly important if you want to take time to be present. I find that I have a running list of things to do that could easily be done by someone else. In fact, I am so lucky to have business and project partners who are willing to pick up the slack when I am feeling overwhelmed. I urge anyone who has the opportunity to delegate responsibility. You don’t want to find yourself exhausted and struck with constant anxiety because you were afraid to ask for help.
4. Make “business hours.” I am partially self employed, and so is my partner. Therefore, it feels as if we are always open for business. Although we both enjoy our work, boundaries are important. Try your best to keep regular “work” hours. It’s simple and frees up time to enjoy your family and friends.
5. Set aside time for you. Honestly, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. Set aside time to clear your head and remove yourself from the world. Be selfish in that time. Drink some coffee, read a book, close your eyes etc. Be screen-free is these moments. Focus on something other than people on your Facebook or the news. I guarantee you this will do your spirit some good.
Just like that, you are less available, and more aware of the life you are actually living. In the new year, I wish for everyone to be less consumed by their surroundings and more in touch with what’s going on inside. I personally think it’s a step toward being a better human.
Originally posted on BlogHer.