My decision to take a break from social media for two weeks has been met with lots of surprise, sometimes with a hint of terror, I imagine, at the thought of doing the same. It’s not the first time this happens.
I’ve been experimenting with deprivation of all kinds for years now. And it always produced the same disbelief when I share it.
“Why? Why would you do the to yourself? To what end?”, their eyes seem to ask over and over when they don’t know me well.
Loved ones tend to smile at me, with some indulging kind of “Oh, our Laetitia has found a new weird thing to try out… So what is this all about this time?”.
And each time, I have to remind myself that this practice I so deeply value is not really considered normal.
Lately, with this new opus, I had to inform more people than usual of my experiment, because we are used to communicate over social media regularly and I didn’t want them to worry. So I thought a lot about it.
Indeed, why am I really doing all this?
Well, a few reasons come in when I ask myself this question.
They all go together : to shock the system, see what happens and create more and more badassery.
I used to really really want to be a grown-up as a little girl, thanks to wonderful movies and books. I couldn’t wait to live my own little story. It seemed like a lifelong adventure of laughter and new experiences…
But then I looked the actual adults around me, observed a little more, and started to wonder what the heck were all the adults doing with their opportunities.
Why would they want to explore so little of the world? Have so few experiences? To meet so few people?
“What the heck are you all doing?” Might be THE Question of my life, and the one which led me to be a psychologist. And well, that kind of psychologists, since psychologists (more especially their methods of choice) often raise the same question for me.
I needed answers, actual ones, not “That’s how it is, Laetitia, now why don’t you just quit it with the twenty questions?”.
I honestly wasn’t very satisfied by the answers my education got me either. Again, they seemed too small, not deepened enough.
So I started researching a LOT, first authors and researchers working on things that seemed more interesting to me, then for the other “weirdos”, nerds and other geeks. The ones who wouldn’t want to quit it either.
And one of the first conclusions I had when I dug some more, was that our lives are not adapted to our humanity.
Our social goals, the ones our culture tells us we should pursue all of our life, are often completely against our nature. So little by little, I stopped taking anything I learnt for granted, and started to give shocks to my system any ways I could think of. And see what happens when I do.
Trying new things is a form of courage. A dive into the unknown.
It’s also fun. A way to explore and engage with the world with playfulness and curiosity.
It makes the world the adventure I was dreaming of as a little girl, even if it’s different than the one I was hoping for.
I realized that I don’t even need to travel to the other side of the world (even if I did that too, and it’s also so freaking great) or pay for new things to change my life, I mainly have to follow my intuition.
My weekly Monday retreat was first an exploration of “What would happen if I decided to check out from the world for a while?”. And it was so great and enriching that it became “What if I would do that every week?” and the greatness keep unfolding in thousand little ways.
My whole morning routine was built on successive explorations.
“What would happen if I did yoga everyday for a week? Could that bring me anything since my body is so tired and rusty?”
“My mind is always so full and overwhelmed what would happen if I decided to journal everyday for a week with this class?”
“They say meditation is so great for anxiety and insomnia, what would happen if I actually tried it?”
As it turned out : many many good things, so much so, that it became “I loved it so much, what would happen if I tried it everyday for a month? 3 months?”. And now it’s been years of doing the three more days than not.
For me, trying out new things was both my way out of depression and into a whole new world of possibilities.
Opening ourselves to follow our curiosity is one primal act of self-love. It can be ANYTHING.
Like when was the last time you googled one of the questions you had about anything?
When was the last time you followed one of your “What would happen if…?” Or “I wonder what it is like to…?”?
Last March, the sweet tooth that I am spent 30 days without any added sugar. I could feel I was consuming way more of it than usual, and didn’t feel good physically because of it. I wasn’t ready to cut myself out of all sugar (hence the no added part), but still, it was wild to feel how different my body was from drastically diminish my sugar intake.
I now know deeply, through experiencing it in my body (most powerful way of knowing), that I am addicted to sugar. I learnt that I use it a lot to calm my anxiety and to give myself little boosts of energy when I’m feeling sluggish. And that it’s actually making me more tense, like all the things I once or am consuming to “calm down” (aka numbing).
I am a very creative person now, but it really didn’t happen until a few years ago.
My word of the year 2015 was courage, after reading “Daring greatly” from Brene Brown, and learning that courage was the bedrock to all the things I wanted the most out of life. Like innovation, connection, creativity, strength…
I tried out tons of new things, it was amazing (and sometimes really not, but still great to have tried it). Realizing I was so much stronger than I thought kind of saved my life (a big part of the “curiosity got me out of depression" thing).
And from all the new things, the ones that seemed way more exciting than the others were creative endeavors.
So I explored this by choosing for the next year the word “Creativity”, watercolors and writing got the last word after many many explorations. They became a huge part of my life after that.
Ten years ago, I was saying that I’m pretty creative mentally, but anything artistic or crafty was totally out of my reach.
Now, in the last two years, I followed 300 hours of painting and illustrations classes, created a tons of things and a little part of that play is becoming an extra stream of income for me.
All of this… Through experimenting and following some “What if…?”.
I’m writing this from the middle of the Pacific, on a tiny dreamy island, where I am living for two years, after spending my whole life in Europe, on a “What if…?” from a discussion with my partner on leaving London (which was already another “What if…?”).
Don’t underestimate the power of daring yourself to follow your curiosity, my dear hummingbird, you will always learn something about yourself in the process. You will always grow somehow. Even if it’s not going as planned or quite doesn’t work out.
It won’t change your life each time. We get so attached to the idea that one thing, one time will be life altering. That’s not how it works, you probably already know that deep down.
But the fact that you ask yourself “What would happen if…?” and really follow more of that, that can be the beginning of great and wonderful change. And the more we do those things, the easier it gets to do more and more of them, especially if we follow the ones that bring us the most joy.
So… What is your curiosity titillating you about lately? What could you make as a first step towards this in the next 24 hours? Just the tiniest step?