Unplug To Find Joy

Unplugged.

Years ago I had this habit of coming home and turning on the TV, right after I hung up my purse and put away my keys. I'd search around to see what shows or movies were on and maybe sit down to catch a break for a few minutes or DVR something for later. 

During those years, Raymond worked nights as a bartender. As he pulled out of the parking lot of the apartment complex I would settle into the sofa with my favorite show and a glass of wine. 

Two, sometimes three, hours would pass as I ingested the entertainment. It all seemed harmless, just some fun "reality" TV to unwind before bed. But there was also a slight addiction, which is the only way I can describe it.  We both had an aha moment where we realized our TV shows were not adding value to our lives. We discussed ditching cable all together in favor of going back to the basics. 

Raymond had lived cable free for years before I moved in and I liked the idea of being untethered from the TV tube. 

Yet month after month, the cable bill would come and I would keep paying it, all while DVRing my favorite shows.  "As soon as this season of Real Housewives is over, then I'm going to cancel it" I promised him (and myself). 

As sure as the sun rises in the east, the last episode would include multiple commercials, "Next week on Bravo, Real Housewives of New Jersey returns"along with clips of all their drama.  

It became obvious that I was hooked on crap TV. 

I remember the day that I had enough. It was a cold February weekday; I got ready and went over to the TV.  Raymond asked what I was doing, at which I retorted, "I'm unplugging this thing and taking it back to Time Warner Cable!" I drove down to the store with my heart racing. 
 

Was I really ready to give up my entertainment?  Was it that bad after all?


I walked in, I handed them the box and all it's accompanying cables. And I walked out the door.  

Free.

Friend, that was 2015. In order to unsubscribe from the noise of TV entertainment and its accompanying ads, I had to unplug and discard. We've been unplugged ever since. We still own a TV that is plugged into a DVD player, but we never subsidized our cable with any other subscription service. No Hulu, no Netflix, no Apple TV. I don't even understand how those things work and I'm just fine with that.

Fast forward to 2019 and the scenery has changed. Marketers realized that other people were following suit and leaving the standby cable services so they decided to meet us where we are.

On social media.

I don't remember the exact year that I opened an Instagram account, but I do remember how crazy I was about all the opportunities to photograph with filters. Keep going a few years and a couple thousand posts later and I realized I was in that same boat on the same river. Addicted.

I was addicted to taking in others lives and listening to their stories. I was addicted to documenting and sharing all the fabulousness that was going on in my life in an effort to say, "I'm living my best life too!"

But something surprised me. The ads and the influencers bit me like a bug that I never even saw coming. Last November, I spent $345.71 on Amazon buying up holiday hauls. The boxes came rolling in full of clothes from China. Did I ever stop and ask myself, "I wonder who made this top and what type of working conditions they had to endure?"

Nope. Next was Cyber Monday deals on Ann Taylor LOFT's website. A pair of socks, two new earrings, a sweater, and maybe a cute skirt too. The cart total was over $150; I must have gotten distracted because when I came back to place the order most of the items were out of stock.

And then it dawned on me, "what in the world am I doing?"

I didn't need a single one of those things in that cart or on my doorstep. Heck, it took me six months to wear all those holiday hauls.

As I started to pay attention to how social media made me feel, I realized it was time to break up.

I felt that I was in a race with every other business owner on the app. I would spend a week creating a new sales page while they created four. I secured a podcast interview, and they secured a spot on Good Morning America.

I felt behind on all my education. I would listen to four podcasts and read two books a month only to open up and see twenty new episodes and seven new books that I just.had.to.read/listen to.

I felt like I was drowning in all the inspirational and motivational quotes. Too much of a good thing can become it's opposite. I didn't need more inspiration. I needed more space.

But worst of all was my discontentment with my life.
My house.
My car.
My town.
My body.
My hair.
My makeup.
My wardrobe.

Perhaps not intentional but the fact still remained, I felt bad about myself because I was always plugged in to everyone else's shiny new best.

So I stopped consuming.

I stopped subscribing. Since I can't just unplug my phone and return it, I decided to try something radical.

I leave it in airplane mode. This mode basically unplugs your device from receiving phone calls, text messages, and wireless signals. I turn it on a few times a day to see if there are any messages to respond to, and then back off it goes.

I leave the phone in the bedroom. I leave it at home. I even leave it in the car.

Instead of telling people about my life, I want to BE present for my life. Instead of telling others about the adorable hydrangeas sitting on my windowsill, I want to sit there and just enjoy them.

Unsubscribe from the noise of the world. Stop watching others live their life. End the desire to constantly document and share about yours. Unplug from the sleuth marketing tactics to get us to want more and better.

When you do, life gets sweeter. Time gets stretchy. And your happiness quota will go up ten fold.

You are enough just as you are. You have all that you need right where you are.

I dare you to try it with me. :)

Jennifer Burnham