Me and social media have always had a funny relationship. Ten years ago, when Facebook was still just a toddler and everyone was mad for MySpace, I embraced it like it was the new cool kid at school that I was desperate to befriend. Then I became a teacher and was awash with gossip of teachers being fired, bullied or publicly vilified by students, parents, headteachers, as a result of something being shared on social media. Naturally, I pulled back. I stopped talking.
When I did share, it would be something I was pleased about. I was running a lot at the time so I got one of those Nike trackers and linked it to an app on my phone. Every time I ran, my running route, time and distance was shared on Facebook. When I was training for a charity race, there would be at least 5 run-shares a week. In the days before and after the race, I’d share pictures and updates.
And there’s nothing wrong with this. Many people use this sharing as motivational tool – to compete with other runners, to make themselves get there in the first place because they know someone is watching. Some people use this for their business or brand. Some just use it to have a conversation.
But I wasn’t doing it for those reasons.
When I actually stopped to think about it, I realised that I wanted to project an image of myself on Facebook as an active, athletic, driven person; an image of who I wanted to be, rather than who I really was. I had regressed back to being a lazy, chubby, unpopular teenager – I wanted to be in the cool club, or at least look like I was.
In short, I was doing it for the likes.
In reality, I didn’t ever enjoy running that much. Even when I was really into it, when I’d come back buzzing from a 5K around the park, it was still a massive effort to get out of the front door. Everyone says that’s ‘normal’ – that’s exercise!
And I accepted this, until I found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 5 years ago. What started as a hobby, became more of a spiritual calling; a source of peace, strength, challenge, wisdom and warm friendship. It’s an awesome workout too. Nowadays, I go three or four times a week. It’s very rare that I don’t feel like going and almost never that I actually don’t. Knowing how amazing it feels is what gets me there – it’s my time for me, when I’m in the zone and completely absorbed and alive.
I no longer need to share my weekly training sessions because I want to appear to be a certain person. I do BJJ for the love of BJJ. It’s mine – just for me. When something is shared, it’s because we’re a lovely, supportive community who are always keen to support and encourage each other. We want to express how proud we are of each other, knowing the physical and mental battles that we have faced together, in competition and each time we’re on the mat. It’s ours – for us.
BJJ is a rough sport – it’s not for everyone. But everyone has their own version of what BJJ is to me. So my happiness tip for today is that you do everything in your power to find what that thing is.
And do it.
Just for you.
No one else.
Have you already found that one thing that makes you feel alive? Are you still searching? Tell me in the comments below: