I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the separation between our personal and professional lives. The line for me is getting increasingly fuzzy each year, with my professional work spilling over and mixing into my “free time” more and more….and I like that.
Teaching, blogging, speaking, consulting, and writing are not just my job. They’re my passion. They are an integral part of who I am. I can’t turn my brain off at 4 pm, and it doesn’t help my practice if I try to force myself to do that. After all, if I don’t think about my work when I’m not doing it, when will I get inspired? My best ideas come when I’m driving or hiking or taking a shower and I allow my mind to wander to possibilities. I enjoy spending some of my free time reading and listening to and discussing other educator’s ideas. It makes me feel less isolated, and it gives me the drive to give 100% when I am at work.
And conversely, who I am as a person is not something I can shut off, either. I don’t stop thinking about that incredible movie I watched last night just because I’m working. I don’t stop liking my favorite songs, using my silly inside jokes and catch phrases, or thinking about stories I want to tell my husband later on. My personal life, hobbies and interests, and my true and authentic self are all a part of my work.
I think that’s the way it should be. As I shared recently in an interview, my #1 piece of advice to new and veteran teachers is to use at least part of your free time each day to seek out people, ideas, and activities that energize you.
I’ve also been thinking about this in relation to what I share on social media. It makes me sad sometimes that I feel like I can only blog about teaching stuff, and that my Facebook followers are probably just interested in my professional ideas. I feel pressure to stay on topic and on message, but I also feel like I’m keeping some of the best parts of me from my readers.
Then in July, I read Amanda Dyke’s excellent blog post, Are you a connected educator or a connected person?. She wrote,
My challenge to you, chose one social media platform this month and use it for YOU. Either for entertainment or to connect with others on a personal level. Choose one, instagram, Pinterest, Facebook (that one is hard for me because so many of my friends are my PLN), a chat app whether Voxer, WhatsApp, Messenger, heck Snap Chat if you want, something you have wanted to try for FUN. Don’t feel bad about it. Don’t get sucked into work on it. When I joined Pinterest (over 3 years ago) I promised myself it would be for ME. I promised I would never use it for education. Now I do follow a few educators on it, but if I click on the links, I save them to bookmarks not to my boards. I always giggle when I see an educator follows me there because unless they like cupcakes, pretty fonts, and shoes they are going to be very disappointed. So find your place for you to be you. You are everything that makes up you, not just your profession.
I decide to take Amanda up on this challenge, not just for the month, but permanently. Instagram is my new place to just be ME. I created my account years ago but barely posted there because it was private and hardly anyone was going to see it, anyway. I decided to make my Instagram public so I can share more of my life with the people who thus far know mostly about my professional life.
I have no long-term Instagram strategy.
I’m not considering how I can monetize Instagram or get more followers.
In fact, I don’t really want a lot of followers—the only people I want in that space are my friends and family and the blog readers who think of me as a friend and family. That’s it.
I’m still going to stay (mostly) focused on professional stuff everywhere else, but Instagram is the place where I share bits from my entire life: my work, yes, but also other things that bring me joy each day. I’m not a selfie girl and I don’t want to plaster my loved one’s images all over a public social media account, so there aren’t many photos of people. But I realized how blessed I am to be surrounded by incredible beauty almost every day–some of it from my travels, but mostly just from being home in NYC or at our house in the mountains (two incredibly photogenic places.) Those sights make me happy, and I think they’ll make other people happy, too. So I’m using Instagram to share those little moments of beauty–or humor or reflection or celebration, whatever touches me that day.
Long-time blog readers know that my husband and I go on a “bucket list” type of trip every year for our anniversary. We’ve done Kauai, St. Lucia, Costa Rica, Alaska, Iceland, and now this week, we’re headed out west. We’re spending the last part of August touring the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell, Zion National Park, and then ending up in Vegas for a few days.
A real-life vacation for me always means a blogging and social media vacation. I probably won’t be blogging or updating much on Twitter or Facebook because that’s where I share my work stuff, and I won’t be working. But I will be posting on Instagram, because that’s where I share my life. You’re welcome to join me there, or I’ll see you back here when I return on August 27th.