Off the Grid, Part Two: Withdrawal

It’s been almost two weeks since I deleted all my social media accounts. Many people have asked me how it’s gone since then. Honestly, the way I feel about that decision changes moment by moment.

On that Friday afternoon when I hit the “delete” button on Facebook and Instagram, and cleared Snapchat from my phone, I felt INSTANT ELATION. I felt like I was finally free after being held captive for years (three and a half, exactly, since I got my first smart phone). I was blissful for the next couple days, knowing that I didn’t “have” to “check” anything, I didn’t need to worry about what people would think of what was on my various profiles, that I would be much less likely to hear about depressing news or ridiculous outrage campaigns.

And then, the boredom set in. I would be in line somewhere, or waiting for something, and pull out my phone and realize, “Oh…right. There’s nothing to check anymore,” then sheepishly put my phone back in my purse. I would want to look up so-and-so from high school but then remember: “Right…I can’t.” A lot of the things I spent my down time doing–snooping on people, reading stupid B.S. opinion pieces about yoga pants or “Trump-Russia-something-something,” and watching models do workouts I would never get around to trying–I can’t do anymore. So instead, I just…sit there. Wait. Be in line with people.

I’m ashamed to admit how reliant I was on social media–how much I used it to take up my time, to keep in touch with others, to get information (much of it fake or biased). Now I have to do other things to take up my time: clean, study, read, take walks. I have to find other ways to reach friends: a text that says, “Hey! What are you up to? Do you want to get together?” There are things that happen in the world that I miss out on–like the recent bombing in Austin I overheard a co-worker mention–that, quite honestly, I’m totally okay missing out on. I’ve had to adjust, and I really miss that instant “fix” that would give me fun, connectivity, and a sense of belonging. But more so, I’ve realized just how fake that fix actually is.

Sometimes I feel bored. Sometimes I feel lonely. Sometimes I feel out-of-touch. But mostly, life goes on pretty much the same way it used to. I am still convinced this was the right thing for me to do, and the more I talk to people about it and read accounts from others who have done the same, the better I feel.

Stay tuned for Part Three, as I continue my fade into digital obscurity. 🙂


Off the Grid, Part One: Taking A Leap

This week I decided to permanently delete my most-used social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

To be clear, I do not think social media is bad, and I do not judge people who love social media or use it frequently. Like pretty much everything else in the world, it has pros and cons. What I’m saying is that I’ve determined that social media is bad for me. I started taking breaks from social media beginning last year, and ever since then have struggled with deleting my accounts altogether. I finally gained the courage to go through with it.

But why was this such a hard decision? I did an exercise where I wrote out all the reasons I wanted to leave and then listed all the reasons I should stay. After I compared the two lists, the decision became easy: all my “cons” were significant cons. (See #5 in particular.) All my “pros” were pretty weak, and I was able to contradict them easily.

Here are the results of my exercise, beginning with reasons to leave social media:

  1. I really don’t care about anyone and their stupid BS. Most of the stuff people post, including me, is drivel. I don’t need to know most of this information and I don’t need it in this quantity.
  2. I care too much about everyone and their stupid BS. Seeing everyone’s vacation photos and manicures and nights at the club and new job announcements makes me compare my life to theirs. I want to be as happy and skinny and sociable and interesting as every person on the Internet, and I feel bad that I’m not.
  3. “What is that thing? I want to buy that thing. Now I need that thing.” I’ve learned a lot about digital marketing at work, and it’s appalling the lengths that corporations go to in order to gather information about our buying habits and exploit them to get us to buy more. Don’t need the extra temptation.
  4. I’m on my phone ALL THE TIME. I was at the airport the other day, and I looked around and LITERALLY EVERYONE was on their phone, including me. Doing what? Stupid BS. Why couldn’t I just sit there and be a person? Why do I always feel compelled to be looking at a screen? I know these types of questions have become cliche, but as with most things that are cliche, they are also profound.
  5. Social media makes me sad. I don’t feel good after I look at these apps, I feel worse than before I open them. 90% of the time I don’t learn anything new that will help me in my life. I regret how much of my morning or my lunch break or time I should’ve spent sleeping I waste on these cat videos and people complaining about politics and my number of “likes.” I personally feel more unhappy than I do happy as a result of social media.

But at the same time, I don’t want to leave, and as I wrote out the reasons why I noted they were all fear-based:

  1. I’m afraid of missing out on my loved ones’ lives. The reality is, I don’t keep in touch with my family and friends very well. A lot of the phone calls, texts, and face time I would normally spend with these people has been replaced by social media. Analog relationship-building is a skill that I will have to improve at if I want to delete my accounts but still maintain my friendships. At the same time, are we really that good of friends if the only interactions we have are a “like” here and there every few months? Is that really a relationship worth keeping?
  2. I’m afraid of being left out. I realize that I won’t be “in the loop” with other people, or with the world in general, if I decrease my online presence. Anyone organizing a party on Facebook will probably not remember to invite me. I’ll lose contact with various groups I’m part of. I won’t know the biggest news stories unless I go out of my way to read about them. But how much will these things actually affect my life? We all know that the news is not actually the news anymore, and maybe I’ll get to die peacefully when North Korea drops a nuke on the west coast instead of spending months stressing about the buildup. How much of this apprehension over social isolation is just a silly, Freudian echo of a child’s fear of not getting an invitation to another kid’s birthday party?
  3. I’m afraid of being non-existent in the digital world, which is only getting bigger and more all-encompassing. I’ll be a weirdo without social media, for sure, and not the good kind of weirdo like Andy Samberg. I’ll be one of those weirdos that’s a big bummer in a “stick it to the man” kind of way, like raw vegans or Tiny House Hunters or people who don’t have bank accounts and keep all their money in the form of solid gold bars in their basement. I am going to inconvenience people and cause them to roll their eyes because of this decision. But…you know what? I already do that with my attitudes on weddings and baby showers and other dumb stuff that everyone else does. Might as well be consistent.
  4. To be completely honest, I’m afraid of people forgetting my birthday, because Facebook is the only reason anyone remembers it (except for my immediate family, my husband, and my soulmate Kayla.) Please take note: it’s December 12th.

I’m really looking forward to feedback from others who disagree and think that social media is a force for good, or people who have tried the same thing I’m embarking on and how it’s worked out for them. And most of all, I’m really looking forward to some PEACE AND QUIET FOR ONCE.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

What Nobody Tells You About Traveling

This is not a travel blog. This is the small corner of the Internet where I go to brood and complain. If this were a travel blog, I’d probably be a petite blonde with too many bracelets, and give advice like “Follow your bliss!” And there would be cute graphics like this everywhere:


So no, I am not a travel blogger, but I am completely obsessed with traveling. I got back from South America two weeks ago and have been extremely depressed ever since. (Seriously. I loved it there.) The only thing that has helped me feel better was booking my flight to Istanbul last night, and skimming the calendar for a long weekend in the fall when Scott and I plan to visit Charleston, South Carolina.


BRB…crying for Argentina 😥

I’m always met with the same reactions whenever I share my travel experiences: “I’m SO jealous!” “That must be AMAZING!” “Uhhh can I please have your job?! It would be so cool to travel for work.” (BTW traveling for work is NOT the same as traveling for fun.) And yes, traveling is hands-down my favorite thing to do, but before I started doing it I had a lot of assumptions based on…well…the Internet, and specifically how other people made travel seem. Here’s what I would go back and tell myself, as nobody told me the realities of travel lurking behind what you see on Pinterest and Instagram:


  • Travel is stressful. You should fully expect to plan a trip, spend a lot of money on it, and then expect at least one thing to go awry. Actually, you’re lucky if it’s just one thing. Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll have a blast, but the

    Sunburnt in Costa Rica

    process of getting there may be dull at best and miserable at worst. Delayed flights, missed connections, lost luggage, jet lag, crowded planes, long lines, and germs will be your companions until you set foot on that cobblestone street or sandy beach. You may arrive at your hotel to find that you forgot to bring the right plug adapter, or the A/C is non-existent, or you don’t know how to use a bidet. You may find that the locals stare, or talk too loud, or that the food is too spicy or too bland. You will miss the securities of home. This is the price you pay for real traveling, for having experiences that test you and fling you out of your comfort zone, which give you resilience and photos and memories that when you look back at them, you can only say, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that.” Which is why…


    Ohrid, Macedonia – My favorite place in the world.

  • It’s not for everybody. While I’m glad I chose to live abroad and subsequently gained an appetite for traveling to new places, I can completely understand why it does not appeal to other people. Traveling and going to “find yourself” in another part of the world (whatever that means) is a pursuit that is respected, even revered, by my millennial generation. But don’t feel bad if you can’t or don’t want to travel! Don’t feel like you have to travel to “find yourself!” If you would rather go to concerts and get your nails done every week and the idea of backpacking through Central America makes you want to vom, I respect that. Especially because…


    Florence, Italy

  • Travel is not glamorous, at all. Throughout this post are some of the photos I’ve shared on social media from various trips I’ve taken. They all look beautiful, right? Well, I’ll let you in on a secret: these beautiful moments comprise maybe 10% of the time I spend in these places. The other 90%, I’m frantically trying to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language I do, I’m sweating like a dog or chilled to the bone, I’m lost, my feet hurt, my thighs are chafing so badly that the skin has broken, the clothes in my suitcase are wrinkled and/or moldy, I’ve been waiting in line at customs for an hour and a half, or I’m being questioned by the border police in Kosovo. (True story.) Nope. Not glamorous at all.
  • IMG-0073

    Freezing in Prague

    It’s not that expensive. I never even considered traveling or studying abroad in college because I just assumed it wasn’t affordable. I hear a lot of people say: “Oh, Costa Rica? I’ve always wanted to go, but I don’t have the money.” I got my round-trip flight there for less than $400. That’s about as much as it costs to fly to many places in the United States. As for lodging? Hostels. They are NOT sketchy, they are practical and can be really fun if you choose the right ones. (I recommend And if you want some privacy, book a private room instead of a bunk at the hostel–they are often cheaper than hotels, but you still reap the social benefits of being able to meet fellow travelers who are of a similar age and on a budget. Even if you prefer hotels or Airbnb, many destinations are way cheaper than hotels you would find in the United States. Some of the top-rated hotels in Istanbul are a mere $25/night. (Yay!)


    Beautiful Albania–my home for 1.5 years

  • You probably won’t “find yourself”–but you will make the best memories of your life. I hate to burst the other millennials’ bubbles out there, but I’m largely the same person I was before I started traveling the world. However, it’s absolutely true that I have gained perspective and knowledge by being exposed to other places. Visiting the Balkans, and Bavaria, and Basque Country, and the rainforest, and UNESCO World Heritage sites are among the best decisions I’ve ever made and hands down is the best way I could imagine spending my time and money. I don’t travel to enjoy myself, I travel to scare myself to death.

Just 118 days until Istanbul. *Le sigh*

Adult Birthdays

Here’s what you say when you turn the following ages:

1-11: “YAY!!!! It’s my birthday! I’m going to have a [insert most popular Disney movie of the year]-themed party!”

16: “I’m super angsty and I can drive and go to school dances now!”

18: “I can smoke cigarettes, join the armed forces, and get married in all 50 states! Yet for some reason I still can’t drink beer. Hmmmm…”


25: “I can rent a car without paying an extra fee…cool, I guess?”

Here’s what you think about every birthday after you’re 25:

  1. I’ve done nothing with my life.
  2. I regret everything. Why didn’t I major in Computer Science?! Why didn’t I marry that cute guy I met at that party once?! Why didn’t I use that Café Rio coupon before it expired?!!
  3. How long am I going to live? How much time do I have left??? MORTALITY!!!!!!!!!!
  4. What if all my eggs have already died and it’s too late to have kids???
  5. My choices were all dumb.
  6. I already feel fat and old…am I just going to get fatter and older???
  7. I have 29 years left on my mortgage. I will be 47 by then. Just let that sink in for a minute.
  8. I just want to do nothing all the time but that is not an option. *cries*

Happy Birthday to me!

20 Things I Believed in College

A few weeks ago I attended an event for work at my alma mater, the University of Oregon. It was the first time I’d been back there for non-football related reasons since 2012. The check-in staff enthusiastically gave me a little “Alumni” ribbon when I mentioned that I was a graduate. Everyone kept asking me: “How is it to be back?!” And I answered, “Uh…great!” But secretly, I just kept thinking, “All these kids make me feel SO OLD.”

As I walked around campus on a busy Thursday, I was filled with nostalgia. I had expected to traipse those walkways five years later a “completely different person,” as one always hopes herself will be five years in the future. But had I really changed that much? I had cut my hair. I had gotten married. I had appeared on an Albanian talk show next to a “topless DJ.” But I was still myself: mostly fun to be around but with a grumpy/sarcastic edge, highly anxious, easily irritated, and a gigantic nerd. It was kind of disappointing: I was not the sexy, cool human rights attorney (by day, and Wonder Woman by night)–or whatever vague, unreasonable career I imagined for myself at the time–that I envisioned as an undergrad.

Then I realized, as I ruminated on specific memories of myself, that quite a bit had changed—it was just more subtle than dropping 20% of my body fat or earning huge paychecks or saving the world. There were a lot of convictions I held from ages 18-22 that I was just plain wrong about. So, I wrote some of them down. They make me laugh today.

Things I believed when I was in college:

  1. You should study whatever you’re passionate about and not worry about money or career prospects.
  2. Waking up before 10:00 is impossible.
  3. Law school sounds like a good idea.
  4. I’ll never move back to my hometown—it’s the worst.
  5. People who have made different life decisions than I have are all dumb.
  6. I am “poor.”
  7. I am “busy.”
  8. I’m young. I can eat whatever I want!
  9. I’ll go on a date with anyone even if I’m not interested in them, because I’ll be young forever and have all the time in the world.
  10. If I’m not going out every weekend, I’m not “living life to the fullest.”
  11. I’m living on my own! I’m independent!
  12. I don’t need help.
  13. What’s “office hours”?
  14. I think I’ll do Peace Corps and subsequently become a hero.
  15. I’m never going to live with my parents again.
  16. I had one bad relationship so I’m never getting married.
  17. It’s easier to just be polite to my roommates and avoid conflict with them, even if they are horrible to me.
  18. That mold on my walls is probably no big deal.
  19. Football is definitely super important and I’m spending an appropriate amount of time stressing out about it.
  20. I don’t have a plan for my life but I don’t need to, because everything will just work itself out.

They say college is the last opportunity you have to make mistakes in life and get away with them. I certainly made mine, but luckily they weren’t that bad, and some of them I’m even glad I made. Thanks, U of O.

I’m Boycotting Christmas.

This a Public Service Announcement to my loved ones: I am boycotting Christmas this year. PLEASE DO NOT BUY ME ANY PRESENTS. Consider donating to Three Square instead. If at this point you’re rolling your eyes and asking “What is her deal NOW?” just read on.

I can’t keep it a secret any longer: I hate Christmas.

Yep, I’m a fat, fuzzy green Grinch, and I’m proud of it! Actually, I’m probably more of an Ebenezer Scrooge, because I resemble an old British man in more ways than one (i.e. I like to shake my cane at young people on my lawn). Either way, all those sneering villains in classic holiday movies are my heroes, because they understand what most people don’t: Christmas kinda sucks.

I’m anticipating the blowback for this post to be equivalent to, if not just as bad, as when I made a passing negative comment about Disneyland. But this time I actually think I have some decent points to make, so bear with me for a minute:

  • badmom

    If you don’t believe me, they have literally made a movie about this exact topic–“A Bad Mom’s Christmas,” as if only a horrible mother could deign to not do all the dumb Christmas stuff for her children.

    If you are an adult, particularly an adult female, Christmas is just a ton of work. It’s important to clarify that I believe Christmas sucks AS AN ADULT. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to love Christmas because you don’t really have to do anything to make it happen besides helping to decorate the tree. You get showered with gifts and get to eat all your favorite foods and spend time with your extended family. However, when you’re an adult, you’re expected to provide that experience for yourself and others. And on whom do tasks like baking, cooking, decorating, hosting guests, and shopping for gifts typically get delegated to? Women, because we have uteruses (uteri?), which supposedly makes us good at these dumb things while men continue to ruin the world.

    • Disclaimer: I understand that there are plenty of people–both male and female–who genuinely enjoy preparing for Christmas. However, I just don’t think it should be expected of any one person in a relationship or should be expected at all if you don’t want to do it.
  • Christmas has become a ritualistic worship of capitalism. This point has been made over and over again, but there’s a reason for that. Christmas is about presents, period. I get excited about Christmas because I know I will get stuff, and then I remember that I have to get stuff for other people, and then I’m like “UGH.” There’s pressure to buy gifts for everyone you know, hope that the gifts you get from others are equal in value to what you got them and vice versa, and correctly anticipate who is going to get you a gift so you aren’t empty-handed in return. Personally, I go into debt every year buying gifts and I know that the same is true for many of my friends. There is something seriously wrong with a religious holiday becoming a financial strain due to unreasonable expectations.

    “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Oh wait, yeah, IT TOTALLY DOES.”

    • I have many wonderful friends whose “love language” is gift-giving, and I think that gift-giving is fine in and of itself. However, my issue with Christmas gifts arises when loved ones do not clearly communicate what to expect from one another. I think there needs to be more of a dialogue between family and friends about what they can reasonably spend on gifts so they avoid making dumb choices like I do. “Hey, I can’t afford to buy presents for everyone in the family. Can we do Secret Santa instead?” “Sorry, but money has been tight lately. Are you okay with a homemade gift?” Etc., etc.
  • Most of the stuff we do to celebrate Christmas has NOTHING TO DO WITH JESUS. Remember that part in the Bible when Jesus said, “Hey guys, make sure you hit up Black Friday to get mediocre sales on things you wouldn’t normally buy anyway”? Me either. Here’s what Jesus actually did say: “Lay up not for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” I think Jesus is probably freaking out like: “C’MON GUYS. There’s poor people, like, everywhere!!! Why are you standing in line at Burlington Coat Factory?!”
    • So what can we do to make Christmas more Christ-centric (if that is your desire)? How about not being incredibly selfish, like me? How about giving to those who aren’t mostly white upper-to-middle-class yuppies, like most of the people I associate with? How about not failing at being Christian anymore, like I do all the time?
  • Santa Claus is creepy. He is literally an old, fat man who stalks children and breaks into their homes at night. Can we get rid of him already?

Many of my family and friends have aptly pointed out that I will probably be more motivated to do the whole Christmas thing if/when I have children. They are correct. However, this year I’m going to do what Jesus might prefer I do: spend time with my family, try not to be so indulgent and self-centered as I’ve been the past twenty-six Decembers, and find someone who could use my help.

But you better believe I’m watching A Christmas Story on repeat all day long, because TBS knows what’s up.

Thoughts, Prayers, and Platitudes

Here are the things people say whenever a mass shooting occurs in the United States:

  • “Did you hear about the shooting in [insert place here]? Super sad.”
  • “’My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.’ That’s what I just tweeted. Doesn’t that make me look so nice and compassionate?”
  • “We REALLY need to do something about gun control in this country.”
  • “We REALLY need to do something about [mental health/immigration—depending on if the assailant is white or not, respectively] in this country.”
  • “All these liberals better not take away my second amendment rights just because of some crazy guy.”
  • “Wait, there was another shooting?”

The response is often jaded, feebly emotional, and charged with political tension. I, personally, had gotten tired of hearing about shootings—not just in the “fed up” type of way, but in the “really? Again?” type of way. I was as guilty as anyone else of these types of responses.

That is, until the most recent—not to mention deadliest—shooting happened right in my backyard, just 10 minutes from where I attend school.

On the morning of October 2, I woke up at 6:35 AM to 56 text messages. Nobody was sharing their “thoughts and prayers.” Nobody was arguing about politics. Here are the things that people say, the text messages your friends send you in the middle of the night, the e-mails you receive from your nursing students, the frantic messages you get from loved ones, when a mass shooting occurs in your hometown:

  • “Are you okay?!!”
  • “You guys, I’m hiding behind an air vent. There are bullets coming from everywhere”
  • “Get out of there!!!”
  • “I can’t find my brother. I’m freaking out”
  • “I just saw policemen running right into it. They are pulling out bloody bodies”
  • “Just saw someone shot in the face”
  • “Are there multiple gunmen?!”
  • “Please respond and tell me you’re okay.”
  • “I just got off a 36-hour shift. The hospital has been crazy.”
  • “This person has been shot and is in critical condition.”
  • “This person has been killed.”

And yet there are things that I’ve been delighted to hear, that I never expected to during such a tragedy, that have made me immensely proud of my community:

  • “Don’t donate blood. The centers are at capacity.”
  • “Schedule an appointment to donate blood later in the week…never mind, they’re full. Schedule an appointment to donate blood next week…never mind, those are full now too. Schedule an appointment to donate blood two weeks from now…never mind…”
  • “Please don’t bring us any more food and water. We have too much.”
  • “We need volunteer grief counselors…Never mind, we have enough grief counselors now.”
  • “Thanks for giving grieving families free airfare, Southwest.”
  • “Thanks for giving grieving families free lodging, hotels on the Strip.”
  • “Thanks to the employees at other resorts who have helped us out. Love, the Mandalay Bay.”
  • “Thanks to companies who have donated catered meals and emergency prescription medication to those affected.”
  • “Thanks for giving people rides, blankets, and food and water, random Las Vegans helping out those who were displaced from their hotel rooms at the Thomas & Mack Center.”
  • “Let’s try and raise $2.5 million for the victims and survivors. Never mind, we did it in less than one day.”

This is what it has been like here. I can’t begin to describe the sadness that everyone is feeling. It’s different when it’s your city. It’s different when it’s your friends that were there. So yes, “tragedy” and “thoughts and prayers” and “senseless violence” have been thrown around a lot, but this time they are not platitudes. They are reality.

I don’t know what to do about all of this. Do I think we should ban all guns? Probably, but do I think that is possible without a painful, possibly bloody struggle? No. Do I think that would stop people from doing bad things? Not necessarily. Mostly, I just don’t have the energy to debate. I’ll leave that to the rest of the country to squabble over, because this didn’t happen to them.

Right now, I’m just sad. Please just let us be sad.