Two months ago, I voluntarily got off all my personal social media accounts. Not only did I log off, but I also deleted the apps from my phone. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Yea, right, a teenager deleted social media without being forced?!” But I promise that my parents had nothing to do with this, and did not ask or tell me to disconnect from social media. So…why did I do it?

Honestly, I felt addicted to my phone, like I was always needing to look at it, and spending too much time on it, too much time caring about what was happening on it, and my mood was affected by it too. So I ripped the band-aid off. It was hard at first because all my friends are on it, and that’s how we communicate these days, but it gets easier. You only feel left out if you allow yourself to feel left out, or if you define yourself by social media.

Guess what? I felt free, like I could breathe. I’m happier, and I feel healthier. And I got time back, time to actually see my friends face-to-face. I’m not saying that I’ll never go back on, but for right now, I’m enjoying not being addicted to looking at my phone. The thing about phones is that they connect us more than ever before, but they actually disconnect us more than ever before too, and believe it or not, I’m actually more connected to people now that I am off my phone.

There’s no looking at people’s perfect lives (which we all know are really not perfect), and there’s no unkindness to worry about (I didn’t have much of that with my friends, but I know there are sadly lots of kids that get cyberbullied). There’s no taking pointless pictures of half my face, and I now have time to ride my bike, play basketball, be with my family, and go to the golf course. And when I want to speak to someone, if I can’t see them in person, then I actually have to call, text, or face-time.

I’m not sure kids really know how to communicate anymore because my generation grew up with cell phones and social media, so looking each other in the eyes is not a priority. Even when hanging out in the same room, we were all on our phones. And now that I’m “looking up,” I have to say that disconnecting from social media definitely helps connect us more with others.

All the adults are saying how proud they are of me, but more importantly, I’m proud of myself. Try it and see how you feel. Give it a few days, a week, and see what happens. You’ll see you’re not really missing out on anything, and your close friends will understand and support you, and still be there to talk to you about your day. You don’t need social media to validate you or to make you feel special and worthy, as long as you believe that you are special and worthy (which you are).

Self-care is important, and in this case, it’s about focusing on our own mental health. It’s up to us, our generation, to turn the tide, to days with more balance and real connection.