Marie Kondo is the author of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and the star of the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She has become an international guru for cleaning up and finding joy while doing it. She preaches expressing gratitude for possessions that you wish to keep, as well as ones you do not need anymore.
From the time the show came to Netflix, I had been dying to try it and experience some of the joy around which the concept was built. The only problem was that I don’t own many things, so it was time to get creative.
Lately, I’d been experiencing a sort of identity crisis. I had been feeling poorly about myself and noticed I was putting too much emphasis on my physical appearance. Now, none of this was new, but the urge to do something about it certainly was.
I have always experienced insecurities, and a lot of my time on social media was spent counting likes and posting pictures that I looked the prettiest in, instead of the happiest. It became almost obsessive. After posting a photo, I found myself checking my phone every five minutes to see how it was being received. My self-esteem has always relied a little too much on
Now, I know my self-esteem issues go deeper than Facebook, but I was sure it wasn’t my imagination that my online presence was making things worse. So I decided to do some spring ‘tidying up’ of my social media.
I started by deleting my Twitter account. I had not used it since high school, so that was not difficult. It also turns out I wasn’t as funny as I thought I was back then, so a part of me was happy the evidence was erased. Next, my Instagram accounts. I had three in total and could not remember the passwords for two of them, so it was an added joy trying to figure those out. I decided to delete two of the three.
Lastly, eight years worth of pictures and posts on my Facebook account needed to be sorted.
Sorting through the images
Writing this, it sounds like my decision to clean out my social media was one based on careful thought. In reality, it was more like the result of a breakdown. I started out angry at myself for becoming so shallow and reliant on validation from others. Then I became angry at other people for feeding into this vicious cycle.
I wanted to completely erase the person I was. I went through each photo and decided whether or not the image brought me joy. I thought carefully about my intentions in posting the photo. I discovered that most of them were posted for others, not for me. If I had been true to myself, I would have had more photos where I looked happy, not the one out of fifteen tries where I looked the prettiest. None of this felt like me.
I had to ask myself, “Am I really this self-obsessed person that I appear to be online?”
I had to ask myself, “Am I really this self-obsessed person that I appear to be online?” I reflected on my day-to-day life and the emphasis I put on my appearance. The only times I could leave my house without obsessing over my makeup and clothes were when I was going to work. I had previously developed the mantra, you don’t have to be attractive to be useful, a phrase I created in college when I found myself not attending school on the days I did not like how I looked.
Next was going through my posts. Many of them were humorous, and this struck me as odd because I have not felt funny in a long time. This was further evidence that my online presence was misleading and fake. I began to worry that this disconnect was overflowing into my everyday life.
As I deleted my photos and posts, I felt so clean, so free from this image, this version of myself that only cared about what others thought—the version of myself that I no longer wanted to be.
I know Facebook isn’t like this for everyone. I love social media. For a lot of people, deleting everything might feel extreme, but I wanted a fresh start. I know other people can relate to that. I currently only have one Instagram account dedicated to my art. I let myself keep it with the promise that I would not post any pictures of myself. I need to be proud of different things, bigger things, than my appearance.
I did feel joy
My Facebook page currently has no pictures of me. I do not intend to keep it this way forever. When the time comes where I can take a picture of myself and like it for what it is—a memory, and not a competition with myself that I cannot win, I will post it.
Until then, I will enjoy the empty space and the joy that this tidying up has created for me. I will focus on building a version of me that is so secure and confident that I don’t feel like half my worth is built from a ‘Like’ button.
Cleaning out my social media certainly won’t fix every issue in my life, but it was definitely a good place to start. And Marie Kondo was right, I did feel joy. I sorted through photos and, in the end, decided to keep the only thing that brought and continues to bring me joy: my authentic self.
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