Bonus: they match each other! It was unintentional. I found this journal for sale at a grocery store and when I brought it home, I was surprised and delighted to see it’s the same colors as my squishmallow. I guess I have an attraction to lavender and rainbow-y things.
Squishmallows are the greatest invention in the world of pillows. They combine a super velvety exterior with the plushest interior. Imagine a giant non-sticky marshmallow you can sink your head into. And they are all shaped like cute creatures. I think this one is supposed to be a narwhal. (In my opinion the stuffed version is much more adorable than the real animal.)
The journal is for a new habit I started a few months ago. It’s part of my plan to decrease my screentime. As I’ve written in previous posts, I often get too attached to my phone. One of the best things I do for myself is keep my phone out of reach when I’m in bed. But I still need an activity to help me transition from waking to sleeping. Journal to the rescue!
Throughout my life I’ve filled dozens of notebooks with writing, but I would always get the large, plain spiral-bound notebooks. This journal is smaller so it’s easy to hold while laying in bed. And it’s so pretty, just looking at the cover makes me want to write in it.
I like to fill the pages with bullet points about what happened during my day and how I feel. Sometimes I draw doodles. I scribble whatever I think of until my eyes begin to close and I rest my head on squishmallow.
This bedtime routine is so pleasant. My eyes don’t get strained from staring at the bright light of a screen in a dark room. I feel like my mind is a room, and I’m sweeping out the emotions from the day as I write them down. I slowly grow sleepy with a calm spirit.
But do I write every single night? Nope! No way. Because right as I’m starting to get really consistent, a stressful day happens and I feel too lazy to put in the effort. I just want the easy comfort of my phone.
It’s embarrassing to admit a tiny electronic device can have such a hold on me.
Why do I never get the relief of breaking a bad habit once. I have to break it over and over again, at different times. Maybe I am doing something wrong. Or is this part of adulthood? Locked in permanent competition against our vices?
At the last restaurant I worked at, I accidentally knocked my phone into a bucket of water during a busy night. I didn’t replace it for half a year. During that time I felt free as the air, except I was always running late to everything and constantly getting lost and no one could ever get in contact with me. Maybe that’s why I felt so free… But my friends and family worried about me.
“Didn’t you all get along just fine in the age before cellular devices?” I’d grumble.
They shook their heads. “Come back to the 21st century!”
I knew my obstinacy was causing frustration. And it wasn’t the safest idea to wander around Los Angeles without communication. I caved in and got another cell phone.
Here’s where it gets interesting. You would think, after a 6 month technology cleanse, that I would remain aloof to the allure of the screen. In those 6 months I had practiced so much mindfulness as I accepted all the daily moments of boredom — I waited in lines and rode the bus and lay in bed with my hands empty and my thumbs at rest. The landscape of social media faded from my memory. I wasn’t distracted by the immediacy of notifications.
And yet one week after I get my new phone, it was like the previous 6 months had been completely scrubbed away. I was back to my old ways. Tethered to the persistent stream of texts and emails. My brain dulled with mindless activity. Instagram, Reddit, TikTok. I could feel my eyeballs glaze over as I scrolled away from the present moment.
So, yea— I missed how it used to be. I thought I should give my new phone away. Then I realized that would cheat me of the opportunity to build a sense of balance. Besides, my reaction was fueled by negativity.
When I get desperate for a sense of control, I fool myself into thinking drastic decisions will save me.
In those moments I wallow in dramatic daydreams. Hmm…Let’s delete everything. Drop off the grid. Give all my stuff away. Crumple the rest up and throw it in the trash. Drive off into the sunset and never look back. I don’t need anything or anyone.
Extremes rooted in negativity are unrealistic. They may provide a temporary reprieve, but they’re unsustainable for the long-term.
Maturity requires restraint. Maturity means I have to let go of the fantasy that life is supposed to be simple.
I’ve had to re-learn balance and re-build boundaries with my phone, many times over. I deleted Instagram and TikTok, then got hooked on Reddit. As soon as I got rid of Reddit, I found WordPress. Hello endless blogs to read! I’m currently obsessed with a language-learning app called Duolingo. In other words, there will forever be something on the screen that clamors for my attention.
With my situation in this modern world, my best choice is to maintain a healthy relationship with technology. My favorite strategy is a soothing bedtime routine to help me fall asleep calmly. Even if I’m not perfect about actually doing it. Maybe especially if I’m not perfect about it.
Letting go of my vices is a lot of ups and downs and backs and forths, but I’m beginning to think that’s the whole point.