I knew I was in a funk when I took myself on a lake walk last Saturday. While the cause was unclear at the time, I knew for sure my funk was triggered by something. Specifically, I knew it was triggered by my self-imposed “Snapchat Detox”: I would allow myself only 15 minutes of Snapchat per day and see how it made me feel.
The idea for the detox emerged from a funk within itself. During a Wednesday afternoon dining hall lunch, my friend told me I seemed distracted, and of course, I knew my friend was right. I had been fidgeting nonstop with my phone, avoiding eye contact with my friends and shaking my leg anxiously under the table. Admittedly, I’d been like this for days, weeks even — going to Snapchat in a dull moment, craving some sense of community on my iPhone during alone time and finding little success. That’s when I knew I had to make a change; there was something going on internally that I didn’t have the space to identify at the time.
I didn’t realize how painful the change would be — not necessarily my “breakup” with Snapchat, but my breakup with the bad habits, dopamine rush and anxiety facilitated by it. But, above all, I struggled to break up with the on-demand socialization the app provided, the way I always had hundreds of friends in my pocket at any given time.
That day by the lake, however, I had hit my time limit for the day and was finally totally alone. Listening to some playlist that feels like July, I had my first good cry of October. And while I couldn’t quite tell you the reason at the time, the cry felt very right. Clinging to myself like some homesick child, tear-filled eyes darting away from runners and elderly folks, I felt myself begin to unravel. But before I could fixate or process much of anything, I called some friends and made some plans. Before I knew it, we were heading to Rocco’s, having some laughs (and exceptionally good pizza) and driving around South Bend listening to music. I felt far away from the feelings I had on that lake walk; I felt better.
But the moment I returned to my room and was completely alone again, I was immediately hit with the same kind of empty, pit-in-my-stomach feeling, that funky feeling from the lake. This time, instead of calling someone and making more plans, I took stock of my worries: I realized I was worried about classes, relationships and my major. I was hit with everything I had worked so hard to avoid. And that’s when I realized no one could remedy this funk, except for me. No social media app or song or substance or chaotic weekend adventure would cure my overwhelming sense of desolation. Not even a friend could fill the void. I had to handle it on my own.
The next morning, I woke up early (a rare, but beautiful occurrence) and met Andrea for a quick brunch at South. I told her about the funk and the detox, and how I think they are connected. It seemed to me that my excessive Snapchat usage was driven by my fears of being alone and out-of-the-loop, and especially, my fear of losing touch. In general, my funk manifested out of my fear of social isolation, something I know rings true for most of my friends and peers.
I challenged myself to expose myself to these fears in small ways by being alone, being out-of-the-loop, and losing touch with some people, even just for a few days. And although being forced to confront these problems has been annoying, I feel it is necessary. The funk is not the site of growth; getting out of the funk is the site of growth.
An old mentor once told me that during these periods, we must call upon the times we were the most “us.” We must participate in the activities, habits and practices that make us feel the most alive. This could mean journaling, playing an instrument, going for a run or watching a movie. This could mean eating your favorite food, maintaining a clean space or drinking more water. It sounds simple to do the things we love or do the things that are good for us, but these tasks can be so daunting when we are struggling with seemingly insurmountable worries.
So I started with just one: I started with running. While I’m only a few days into my goal of running consistently again, I can feel myself getting better. I can feel myself returning to a “me” that wasn’t so consumed with my social life and personal chaos; I can feel myself unraveling in a good way this time, opening myself up to new possibilities outside of my phone and even outside of my friends.
I’m not saying I have the cure to a funk, nor am I saying that everyone should upend their daily routines and habits and delete their Snapchat accounts. Instead, I’m seeking to normalize a space that so often gets neglected because, really, funks are good. Funks are the launchpad for greater development and deeper understanding of oneself and others. Funks are the answer to all the worries that get buried during long weeks studying and chasing parties. Funks are the thing that forces us to tap in again.
Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Breen-Phillips Hall. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.