My Decision to Unplug: Here's Why it Worked

For a split second I couldn’t breath. I could no longer control my tears from coming down. When it rains, they say, it pours. I found myself at my friend’s house at 11:30pm on Sunday; barefoot, in raggedy sweats and tears in my eyes. She had a pot of tea going and some tough love to give.

What I’m about to tell you wasn’t my idea.

It wasn’t like I was running from my problems, but more like running towards a way to get my life in order.

A challenge was suggested, and in my desperation, I took it. A Two-day decision to unplug sounded like a great idea at the time. What in the world would cause a millennial to give up their phone (willingly) you may ask? It should be obvious, what drives a girl to do anything out of the ordinary? A shattered heart. I was in desperate need of being in-touch with my feelings, no distractions.

In the realm of social media, we all have an abundance of friends. I found myself contacting only four people to let them know I wouldn’t have my cell phone for the next two days. Now, this was easier said than done. My dependency on my phone was something that came second nature to me. So to combat this dependency, I handed my phone to my mom that night (she gave me the crazy look a mom gives when they don’t understand what you’re doing) with no further questions asked.

The next morning, I woke up in a funk. I have never had anxiety in my life, nor will I claim that I am an anxious person, but, Oh Lord! Talk about being antsy. From the second I woke up, I had an urge to reach over in a panic searching for my red phone to slowly realize it was no longer with me. In all honesty, day one was by far the hardest day of 2018. My emotions were everywhere. I was unhappy, angry, depressed (the gloomy weather didn’t help) and lost; lost beyond words. I wanted to curl up in a ball and wait for the day to fade.

Your phone normally works as a distraction from life, but what happens when your distraction can no longer be there? I became the most productive human. I opened my laptop early that morning because I knew there would be one person who would email me, my best friend, Lyss. She was concerned but proud of my decision to unplug. It was her emails throughout the day that took away the ever lonely sensation I was having.

The realization of having an immense dependency on my phone hit me like a fireball.

My phone manages my life. I write important personal details  in my phone and depend on it to keep that information stored. For instance: when my last period was, the usernames and passwords for my social platforms, my reminder to take my birth control pill, people’s phone numbers, or what time it was throughout the day (I had to walk to the kitchen from my room because I don’t have a clock…well shocker, it doesn’t work, just used for decoration).

I learned a term on this lovely first day; exposure therapy. Exposure therapy consists of having a patient sit with anxiety for as long as they can until it decreases. That was me, the entire day. I was up and down with my emotions. I broke down a couple times replaying certain events in my head. The need to be in contact with anyone became too real, emailing felt like a lifeline. And let’s talk about crying. Letting the tears fall down your face and having to wipe them away, slowly understanding it’s time to pull it together. The feeling of having a good cry, or maybe even three, feels so purifying. As if you are letting go of all your sadness, wiping  away has the ability to empower.

Before bed that first night, in my desperation of feeling anything other than the sadness, I opened my journal I used to write in.  There were bible verses, quotes, and motivational words I would write to myself; as if God knew my future, and my hurting self would need to read the words later.

On April 18, 2017, I wrote in a journal to myself. It said this, “Remember that God will not give you anything He doesn’t think you can’t handle. Everything He places in your life, He does it with a reason and a purpose. Even when it seems like you haven’t heard from him, keep seeking Him. There is always spiritual growth. Keep pushing through your difficulties and keep praying.”  In hopes of finding anything, I went to sleep praying for strength and forgiveness.

The next morning I woke up with a full night’s rest. I don’t think I have experienced that in a long time. Psychologically, knowing there would be no buzzing sound, no alarm to hit snooze, or no bright light hitting my face as I randomly check my phone in the middle of the night, gave me a strong sense of peace.

Day two: it got better. Without the anxious feeling of no phone, I adapted well to my daily tasks at hand. I became more aware of my surroundings, I wasn’t distracted from anything that called my attention. The anxiety diminished as well as the feeling of being alone. I was able to run two miles without music playing, only relying on my brain to keep the mental notes. I focused on finishing my homework, instead of planning a day outside of the house, because in all reality I am a lost puppy without my GPS.

I won’t lie, the need to reach for my phone and snap something funny was still there, but my concentration on daily  activities had my full undivided attention. The need to have a conversation and be honest was yearning inside of me. The reason for this challenge continued to stay in the back of my head, and it wasn’t until mid-day that I acted on my emotions. Once I stated my peace, I began to feel a little more free and more like myself again. The entire reason for disconnecting was to connect with myself again. I had lost myself without realizing it, and it took some harsh words from someone I cared about to get me back on track.

I believe God knows what you need, and when you need it.

Though I was still using my email to stay in contact, being rid of my phone taught me the importance of disconnecting from the world and reconnecting with myself.

I am grateful for technology and the purpose it serves, but I am even more grateful for the wonderful people I surround myself with in the present. Throughout these two days I have learned about growth: in my spiritual health, my personal relationships, and the relationships that continue to be broken. But the brokenness that continues within me continues to challenge my daily character. I am grateful for it and am learning that it allows space for future growth. The answer wont always be there, but the disconnection provided the clarity I needed.

Author: Ariana Hernandez | @ariiana_92