Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.
~ John C. Maxwell
When I originally set out to write this post at the beginning of the week, I had a completely different idea of what I was going to talk about. I had all of these things that I felt were so important and I wanted to address them, and get the word out there. However, plans change.
Last night, in the southern and mid parts of Ohio, we were hit with a winter storm. Rather than bringing snow, it brought freezing temperatures, sleet and rain. All of that lead to the formation of black ice on the road. If you’re not familiar with the term black ice, it’s when the roads simply look wet, but are actually covered by a very thin, undetectable layer of ice that can be deadly when combined with the right conditions and speed. Most of the local schools were closed and the roads were rather horrific. My husband, who works about an hour south of where we lived called me when he got to the hospital he works at, and told me not to leave the house today and to salt the driveway for the kids because our district did not close the schools and we would need to walk to the bus.
I got the kids on the bus, and came in to start my work day, settling in with my cup of coffee at the computer. I had a list of notes for this particular article, and was jotting down a quick outline of sorts when my work phone rang. I saw that it was my best friend who works at the adjacent department to mine. I’ve been with my company for a little over 13 years, and worked in the department she was calling from for ten of those years. I quickly answered, only to be stunned into silence when she told me that one of the woman we’ve worked with for 10 plus years was killed in a car accident trying to get to work in the icy conditions. They had been trying to get a hold of her all morning, and her daughter called in to let them know.
Readers, I have no words. I’m devastated, sad, and shocked at this news. I feel like a rug has been ripped out from underneath me. I am not so naive to think that things like this don’t happen or won’t happen to me, but when they do, it’s a sobering thought. So with that in my head, I rethought this entire article. Because let’s face it, the things that I was going to write about, really weren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. Rather, I’d like to take a moment to think about what really is important in our lives, and prioritizing those importances above others.
For the book community, Instagram has become a huge tool and an even bigger community for readers. It’s a place where we’ve come together to discuss the one thing we all have in common, and that’s our love of books. I originally wanted to address making your instagram successful, and provide links for ways to grow your followers, but now I’m questioning myself and why follower count even matters. If something were to happen to you tomorrow, would anyone ask how many followers you had on Instagram? Would anyone even care if you had 10K or 10 followers? With this in mind, I want to challenge everyone to stop thinking about your stats, the number of likes, the number of followers. Instead, step back and think of the actual people behind the screens. Are you creating a space where others will feel comfortable coming to visit? Are you open to everyone, and try not to exclude others? Are you someone that others feel like they can reach out to when they’re in need? I have met some of my most precious friends through Instagram, and I will be eternally thankful that these people were brought into my life. Instagram is so much more than the numbers. It’s a place to express yourself, and allow yourself the freedom to find your niche. To see what works for you. And when people reach out to you, don’t be afraid to cultivate that budding relationship. And don’t apologize for stepping away either. When Instagram becomes more about work, and the fun and freedom you first felt disappears, don’t feel the need to force yourself to post. Your time is more precious than a picture posted to an internet app.
Whether we like to think about it or not, our days in this life are numbered. It’s important to remember to look at each new day as a gift, and to make the most of that gift. This ties back to the article I wrote late last year about reader’s guilt. If you’re not reading for yourself, and for enjoyment is the reading even worth it? Are you finding yourself saying no to spending time with your friends and family because of an obsessive need to meet a reading goal? Are you stopping yourself from binge watching the latest release on Netflix because it will take away from your reading time and you won’t read as many books as so and so down the street? Reading, while fun and entertaining, can’t run ramshot over our lives. Reading, blogging, Instagram and Facebook are something that we need to remember are not the end all and be all of what we do. Experiencing life, and I mean really experiencing it, is what we need to remember. Now, I’m not saying that reading can’t be that for you. For some people, reading is how they experience life, and that is absolutely ok. I’m talking about those of us that put an insane amount of pressure on ourselves to make sure that we always have an Instagram post, or a blog post, or an unobtainable reading goal even if it’s to the detriment of our relationships with others. And I’m as guilty of it as the next person. I’ve caught myself, more than once, brushing off my kids requests to color, or play Barbie’s because I “needed” to get a blog post written, or I “needed” to take this picture so I wouldn’t lose followers. And in the end, my kids won’t remember that great picture I took, or awesome book review. They’ll just remember that Mom always had more “important” things to do then play with them.
It’s important to remember, and to remind yourself daily that tomorrow is promised to no one. And when you start to feel the pressure of the bookish community, or bookish commitments, think about how you truly want to be remembered in this world. I can guarantee that there are very few of us that say we want to be remembered as an epic bookstagrammer. Because for myself, I know I would want to be remembered as a kind, giving soul who was a loving wife and mother. I would want people to think of the times I reached out and was a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on. I would want people to know that I had my own struggles with self doubt and anxiety, but I worked hard every single day to overcome those issues.
I’ll be honest, I hesitated to put this out there, in fear of being receiving retribution. I have a sensitive soul, so please kind readers, remember that there are real people behind these computer screens, and whether you agree or disagree, we have the freedom (and the need) to write about the things that mean the most to us.