By: Ellie Kim
Thailand was a dream. I found a deep happiness --A happiness sparked by my patience in reconnecting with myself and the nature surrounding me. But while this reconnection to my inner soul and greater spirituality was both invigorating and liberating, it forced me to consider: did I have to wait to be in Thailand to find this peace, and why do I have so much difficulty doing these things at home?
One of the largest factors is my social media; I’m on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Youtube basically all of the time. But why? For what? How much do I really care about what some girl from my high school is doing or the latest celebrity drama? Sure, it’s useful for keeping up with trends and searching up a burning question on the internet and I can’t deny it plays a huge role in social movements, but what does social media really do for us as individuals? Give us a means to compare ourselves to others? Provide a platform that encourages focusing on what people are doing thousands of miles away? Create a complex within ourselves that we need to be validated to feel pretty? Who cares? Nothing matters except what does. Social media isn’t really helping any of us.
And so, I decided to leave my phone at home for the entire trip. And, believe it or not, I survived. I didn’t even miss it. My friends on the trip can tell you that I complained about the absence of it a few times, but overall, I barely even noticed it was gone. Sure it would have been fun to see what my friends were doing with their breaks, and I did miss talking to a few people, but it was all just fine.
Here’s a list of things that happened because I left my phone at home:
I became less focused on others, which catalyzed an ability to focus more on myself and the freedom to worry less about superficial things like getting the perfect photo for my Instagram
I only used disposable 2 cameras, which made me think about my surroundings with a more gentle and thoughtful perspective. It made me think about what was really worth capturing, and what was worth just taking in as an experience of the present (hint: the latter is basically everything)
I became less focused on time. I didn’t have a watch, so found that I stopped focusing so much on the time and just went with the flow. Rather than focusing on being at a certain place at a certain time, I was able to focus on the present rather than stress about being somewhere else.
This encouraged me to focus on my surroundings and I was able to discover the deepest sense of belonging, one that ignited the notion that I am always where I am meant to be
This also gave me time to think and reflect more generally, during which I was able to contemplate my own pure, individual happiness
Actually read and finish two books
Meditate and learn about myself spiritually
Learn from nature
And when you begin to focus less on others and begin to manifest the situations and activities listed above, I can promise that you’ll have an intense moment of clarity. These moments may be about anything, from matters in your own life to greater understandings of the universe and the world around you; but either way, they will shape you as an individual and affect your outlook on the world. On my trip, I had several, but one of the most profound happened while I was floating in the middle of an ocean.
Surprisingly, the sea terrifies me. Swimming has never been my favorite activity and I always find my heart pounding when I get caught in a salty wave. But on this day, I chose to be fascinated by the ocean, thinking of the insane beauty that it contains and finding myself at peace. While everyone else snorkeled by the beach, I floated, yards away from everyone else, focused on myself and the immediate nature that I was in. I closed my eyes and felt so at peace, lulled by the cool ocean and the warm sun on my face. My “ah-hah” moment happened, though, when I opened my eyes to find myself completely surrounded by a massive school of blue and yellow fish. They weren’t afraid, and I knew that I had no reason to be either. They were curious, and so was I. And in that moment, I realized that there is nothing to fear. We are all just masses of atoms finding our ways in this world that we share. What is there to be afraid of? We are all simply just full of love and curiosity, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.
It is never easy putting these moments into words, so I encourage you to seek them out for yourself. I encourage you to find the time to take a step back. Stop for a moment and feel the wind brush your hair across your forehead, or notice the birds fluttering through the trees. Act the most excited when the people you love walk into the room or remind your parents how grateful you are to have them. We have only one beautiful and precious life, so why waste it?