Deactivating my Facebook account

After dinner, we found a bar – a gin distillery, actually – and I ordered something apple flavored. Trained to ask questions, we picked apart each other’s lives far into the night. When the bar closed, he grabbed my arm and said he didn’t want to stop talking, so we didn’t until we had to attend early-morning meetings.

It was the last time, and really the only, that I saw him because I always make the decision to go. Years later, some of the things he said that night stick with me. He believed so much in his spot in the world at the moment, his job and friends, and he was committed to making the most of it. I told him about missing home, leaving out the detail that I was about to return, and that things like Facebook (I’d discover Twitter later that year) helped me stay connected to my former life. He told me that he rarely checks his account and that he doesn’t want it in his life.

“I want to focus more on my relationships here. I want to focus on the people right in front of me,” he said

That statement has long stayed with me – when another man broke my heart a few months later and I needed to disconnect for a week, when I saw the life I wanted to lead on others’ social media profiles, when I saw my old life continue on without me, when I actually couldn’t be online without electricity or internet.

And, again, this June.

Two days before I left D.C., I deactivated my Facebook account. It’s something I had been thinking about for a long time, but wasn’t sure I could do. A FB message from someone that I wanted to keep in my past and an encounter on the street confirmed my decision that it was time to go. And this new transition seemed like a perfect opportunity to make a clean break.

I didn’t tell anyone, except for a few people that I had wanted to connect with in the upcoming weeks, and I made no announcement. As soon as I hit the confirmation button, a wave of relief filled me. It’s like I dropped a heavy bag that I had been carried and I would no longer be haunted by pasts and potentials.

It also allowed me to come to Chicago with a clean slate. I am focused on the people in my life, whether in Chicago or not. I want to give the attention and love to the people that honestly matter in my life, and I feel that Facebook adulterates my interactions with them. Sure, I’ve missed weddings and babies, but I eventually get the news and I feel that my words are more sincere when not thrown into a heap of comments or likes. The people who truly care about me have found ways to connect with me, and new friends don’t even know me as a Facebook persona, which is sort of charming. I thought I would miss it on my birthday, without the hundred-some greetings, but I was actually so overwhelmed with love for those that remembered without Facebook telling them because I am terrible about that and forget birthdays all of the time. (My sister-in-law would be quick to point out that I had a month-long countdown and it was hard to miss.)

The worst part, and the part that will drive me back eventually, is that Facebook is how I keep in touch with many of my Basotho friends and I feel really terrible that I just disappeared on them.

I’ve promised myself that I won’t go back to Facebook until I won’t use it as a filler for real life, and I am not sure I’m to that point yet. I know that I do like the long emails and phone calls with friends far away or the hours I spend with new friends talking about pieces of life I could easily get from a quick Facebook profile scan. I also spend less time scrolling through my phone in public and often refuse to even look at my phone when I am with another person.

I know that I will go back at some point, but now I enjoy living life outside of profile pictures and status updates. I am focusing on the people in front of me because I want these moments to last as long as they can.

P.S.
If you have noticed my absence on Facebook, bless your heart, especially if you found a way to reach me (I am actually not that aloof). If you still can’t figure out how to reach me, try heathermmangan@gmail.com.

30/30

A new decade, new blessings. If the first day is any indication, 30 will be great.

I am thankful for my health.

I am thankful for my job.

I am thankful for my roof and the food I have.

I am thankful for my wonderful friends.

I am thankful for my amazing family.

I am thankful for grace.

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29/30

A few days before my 28th birthday, I climbed to the top of a large hill that over looks Ha Matela, a view that always contradicted my residential status in the community – Do I really live here? I wondered. I sat down with my journal and I made a list, and for several minutes I scratched things below this list, allowing my confidence to swell along with reassurance that I am exactly where I should be going into the next year of life.

The list was entitled, “All these things that I have done.”

Not only is that the title of one of my favorite songs, but it was also great proof, really to just myself, that I am not a, um, F***-up.

Today is the last day, last of hour, of my 20s and, although reminiscent, I am not wallowing in days gone. My 20s were a tumultuous time, as they are for many, but they were so filled with amazing adventures and mishaps that I truly believe have set the foundation for my 30s.

 

Even though my 29th year has been much of this, I do not doubt or discredit the things that lead me to my path now. I don’t have the reasoning, and I really don’t need it, for why I am where I am, but I just know that it is where I should be.

 

As I have tried to really grasp with my 30/30 day project, I am truly grateful to have lived this life. It’s often messy and most times I’ve lost something, but it’s the life that is handpicked for me, therefore, it is incredible.

 

To appreciate the decade gone past, I want to highlight a few big moments, if only to remind myself how incredibly blessed I’ve been.

 

The Top Moments of My 20s

  • Before I turned 20, I had never left the country. I’ve now been to 11 countries, half of which are African. I’ve only seen a small corner of this world, but I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to explore the world, especially the chance to have lived in two cultures completely different than the one I grew up in.
  • I’ve left home and I’ve returned, several times. I think everyone should experience both things once in their life.
  • I’ve done things that seemed so unlikely for me when I was 19 – the Post, Peace Corps, etc. It’s good to surprise yourself.
  • My relationship with my body will likely always be complicated, but I never been more in touch with it when I trained for and ran the ultra marathon. I shouldn’t not have been able to do that, but I did.
  • I’ve loved and had my heart broken. My friends often tease me that my choice in men is less than ideal, but I am attracted to men with wanderlust ambitions and big dreams because that’s who I am. Eventually, I will settle down and hopefully find someone who is at the same place, but I think it’s good to fall for the wrong guy because it always forces me to realign with who I am and what I deserve. Plus, ask my friends, I have some of the best dating stories.
  • My friendships have drastically changed since I began this decade and I don’t keep in touch with many of the people I was friends with at 20, but I’ve found that I am person who absorbs those in front of me. Some of those will stick around for years, even though we are no longer in the same location, and I understand that those are the truest of friends. It doesn’t matter when they entered your life, because it is likely they won’t exit for a while.
  • I have two families. A Basotho family made me their own and I finally understand that my immediate family, the ones I’ve always known, are the greatest people in my life.

It wasn’t even my birthday today, and man do I have so much to be thankful for.

These are things that I am thankful for today, and always:
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28/30

I am thankful for friends who call and want to have dinner at the last minute.

I am thankful that I don’t look awful for dinner after running.

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I am thankful for sandwiches.
My birthday week means I eat what I want.

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I am thankful that may family comes TOMORROW.

I am thankful to live in such a beautiful place.

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27/30

I am thankful for the people that love me.

WhenI get lonely, which tends to happen who you live in three places in nine months, my friend Roxy will tell me, “Oh, but my dear, you are so, so loved.” I tend to focus on those that forgotten, pushed, forced, shooed me out of their lives instead of being grateful for those that put me in theirs and won’t let me go. Those people, I love.

I am thankful for cute restaurants with vegetarian friends.

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I am thankful nights when the writing pours from me.
Maybe it will be good, maybe it will be bad, but at least I am getting it out.

I am thankful for customer service.
Sometimes I really miss Lesotho – the people, the views, the simplicity. However, there are times when I do not, most often those are times that require any kind of customer service.

I still have flashbacks from trips to the post office, the clinic, the bank, the cell phone store and other places where I waited for hours and hours to get no help. Transferring money required a handwritten letter, a couple hours waiting in line, a great amount of staring tolerance and all the patience you had.

I forget that the U.S. is different. Today I had to get a new Ventura card and I expected to be met with long lines, grumpy clerks and a possible, “I can’t help you.” But it was actually pleasant. The doors opened at the time they were supposed to. There were multiple windows open. The line moved fast. The clerk was extremely sweet and helpful. I was so blown away and delighted by this pleasant experience, one that most would find inconvenient. It was actually a highlight of my day.

I am thankful for going home to this:

A little Ella to walk me in.