A Week Without a Phone

My sister Katie and I arrived in the beautiful Greek island of Kos on the afternoon of Monday 19th June. The plane left on time, landed on time, our luggage arrived, our taxi transfer to the hotel was waiting for us and we arrived safely at our hotel. It didn't disappoint. Right on the beachfront, blue skies, crystal clear pools and bright white buildings welcomed us. We were given champagne on arrival (not that I drank it, you know me) and hot towels to freshen up. The room was stunning. We had a sea view and a pool view! We had a huuuuge balcony!! The room as entirely white - perfect for those Instagrams and selfies.

Having unpacked, had many a hug and a high-five in celebration that we had found such an amazing hotel, squealing how it's just perfect and we're so lucky to be here, we decided to explore a little. First around the hotel and pools, then down on the beach. The sand was soft and white. The sea was crashing onto the shore (strong waves as it was super windy). We were desperate to see how warm the water was, so we kicked off our flip-flops for a paddle. Whilst holding my flip-flops in one hand, I took some photos of Katie in the sea on my phone in the other, got half-way through uploading them to Instagram, then put my phone in my pocket because I was dropping one of the flip-flops and needed a better grasp on them. And that's when it happened.

My phone slipped out of my pocket. I saw something fall, thought it was one of my flip-flops, and then realised. My phone was in the sea, being dragged away by the ferocious waves. I couldn't see it. After a good five minutes of wading through the water (in my trousers, I may add), searching hopelessly for my phone under the thick sea foam, sand and strong current, I started laughing hysterically. Then I started crying hysterically. Then both at the same time. It was no use - my beloved iPhone (with my entire life on it - bank accounts, contacts, notes, messages, holiday info, train tickets, photos, videos, memories) was gone forever.

What you'll read below are my emotions from then onwards!

Day 1

Of course, all evening I've not stopped thinking about the fact that my phone is somewhere out there in the Kos sea (heck, it's probably in Crete by now). I keep going to pick it up, look at the time, check for messages, text someone, take a photo, check my Instagram notifications... and then remember that it's never to be seen again. I feel oddly okay about it. It feels like my right arm is missing, but my right arm it not missing - it is firmly attached to my right shoulder. Basically, it could be a lot worse. It could've been my passport or my debit card. Katie has her phone and laptop. We are safe and well. More than well! Perspective! We're on an amazing holiday with our favourite people (each other) and we came here to do yoga. To escape, unwind, switch off. To work on ourselves, liven our spirits, take a step back. Get deep. Get real deep!

It is what it is. I can't change it. I can't wade back into the sea to find it. Even if I did miraculously stumble across it, it's useless now. A waterlogged piece of metal. The thing is, I could look at it in two ways. Either I think, 'this is s**t, the holiday is ruined, I can't live without my phone' or I can think of it as a sign that I need to switch off (now literally), live this holiday through my eyes not through my phone screen, and as an opportunity to start being more present physically rather than virtually. I'm choosing the latter.
I want to have an amazing holiday. I don't need material possessions to do that. I don't need to take a selfie with Katie every 5 minutes to do that. I don't need to constantly be checking Instagram and Whatsapp to do that.
Right now, I'm still in shock. It hasn't sunk in yet (pardon the pun). I feel distraught and a bit lost. My mind is going into overdrive thinking about what is gone, how I'll get back home, when I'll get a new phone. And yet, I feel calm, and most of all, I feel free. I am going to enjoy the space, enjoy looking up and not down, and enjoy this opportunity to see how I'll cope without a phone. I'm also going to journal my (very likely) rollercoaster of emotions on here during this next week of being phone-less. Like a kind of unintentional, heartbreaking but valuable and enriching experiment.

I think I'll be okay. After all, if Ed Sheeran can live without a phone, I can too, right?

Day 2
Throughout the night, I kept waking up. I had very little deep sleep and when I dreamt, I was thinking about my phone. I felt unsettled. I felt anxious. When I woke up properly, I felt angry and sad. When Katie asked me why, I said "because I'm stupidly attached to my damn phone". That's the honest truth, and something that's become more evident as a result of this! I am so used to have it in my hand, by my side, in my bag, in my pocket, that not having it with me feels wrong and frustrating.

In our morning yoga practice, I started to feel more at peace. I was able to balance better in poses than last night (last night I was wobbling all over the place), a huge reflection of my state of mind. Last night, post-phone-incident, I felt like I'd lost my footing, like the rug had been pulled from underneath me. I didn't know what to do with myself! The safe, secure feeling of having my phone nearby (you know that feeling, I'm sure), was replaced with unease and uncertainty. It's no wonder I couldn't stand on one leg. Doing yoga last night, I was also really giggly. I couldn't concentrate. Hysterical laughter (poor Katie was getting frustrated with me as she was trying to guide us through a yoga sequence and I kept bursting into fits of giggles). It was the hysteria, the shock of what had happened (having my phone in my hand one minute and the next, having to surrender to the fact that it was gone - and even if I found it - wouldn't work anymore), coming to the surface. Showing up on my yoga mat.

I spent much of this morning feeling pretty low. Hard-done-by. Annoyed. The victim mentality was REAL. As the day has gone on, I've started to feel happier, more grateful, and (dare I say) I've been enjoying the freedom of not holding/carrying/checking/using a phone. Well, except for when I posted a poolside Instagram using Katie's phone - I couldn't help myself, and I think that's part of the problem and something I need to work past. In some way, I believe this is why my phone is now at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea.

Day 3
Honestly, I've barely even thought about the phone thing today. I've briefly checked messages on Katie's phone, but aside from that I have no desire to use it or look at social media. I've tried a social media detox before and I enjoyed it. but it was hard, and I'd still log in from time to time. But now the temptation isn't there, I'm not fussed. I thought I would be. I've been pretty engrossed in the news recently, what with all the political events and terrorist attacks happening on a weekly basis, but I'm more than happy to be sat reading a book, soaking up some glorious Greek sunshine, being blissfuly unaware of any breaking (heart-breaking) news stories. Don't get me wrong, I care. Very much. But it's all so damn negative and my goodness do I need some space from it all.

Weirdly, I don't feel too disconnected from the world. In fact, I feel a helluva lot more connected. Getting in the sea, outdoor yoga, feet in the sand, energised by the sun on the longest day of the year. I'm having more conversations with my sister than I would if my phone was in my hand, and I'm taking in this holiday - these new sights, surroundings, experiences, fully by looking up and not down at a screen.

The other thing is that time is going so much slower! It's strange. I suppose it's because I'm not constantly looking at the time on my phone - even when we check our phones for another reason, we're always subconsciously aware of the time, right? The days feel longer, more relaxed and chilled and real. I usually spend an average of 3 hours on my phone every single day (I have, well HAD, an app that tells me) - that's a freakin' huge amount of time. Shocking really. And this week, I'm getting that time back. It's pretty great.

Last day
It's the last day of our yoga holiday in Kos. I'm getting to that stage now where I'm itching to get back to routine, to-do lists and completing tasks. This week has been blissfully quiet and relaxing. We needed the rest. And now that I'm rested and have had a week of no responsibilities and worries, I feel rejuvenated and ready to carry on with life stuff!

It's been a week since I parted with my beloved iPhone 6 in its floral Cath Kidston case. My emotions have gone from hysterical and distraught, to acceptance, to relief and gratitude. It sounds absurd, and I never imagined I would ever say this, but losing my phone in the sea might just have been a blessing in disguise, a really great thing to happen. Not convinced? I'll explain.

Like the majority of 21-year-olds (well actually, like most people of any age), I spend way too much time on my phone and rely on it a huuuge amount. I also spend far too many minutes (hours) scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, or getting caught up in a a news story on Twitter. When something fun/lovely/exciting happens (from seeing a friend to eating a meal), the first thing I do is take a photo and upload it to the interwebs. In fact, I often walk around with my phone camera app open, ready to snap. And then I edit it - make it brighter, make the blue skies more blue and the grass more green, tweak it and perfect it, until it barely resembles the original photo, and even less so the actual thing I was experiencing in the first place. And then I share it with some people who I care about. And many that I don't know.
I love taking photographs (as I'm sure you know) but this week has made me realise that on some narcissistic level, I care more about sharing these photos and receiving positive responses, than I do about the actual moment. Having lived and experienced this week phone-less, it has made me question my intentions when I share photos, information or stories online. And if I'm being honest, the intention is more often than not 'attention'. And that doesn't sit well with me.

It is inevitable that when we share anything of our lives online that there will be an egotistical element to it. Even if we don't realise, deep down, we are showing off a little. I'm right, right?
And what we're presenting is a mere shadow of the actual thing. If it's an edited photograph, it loses its authenticity. If it's a story of what happened to you today, it's exaggerated.
This is the nature of social media. It doesn't mean you're a terrible person. We all do it. But it's made me realise that it's not always necessary to do so much sharing.

I think I needed to have my phone unwillingly taken away from me to realise this. And honestly? I've not really missed it that much. This may be because I've been on holiday and not needed it as much as I would in my daily, task-filled life where it acts as an alarm clock, and a bank account, and a timer for my cooking dinner, and a communication tool, and a torch, and a camera, and a shopping list, and a diary, and a calculator and a clock. And when I go back to my everyday life, I'll be using a new phone for all these things. But what I won't be using it for as much is social media-ing. I've felt more present and joyful this week than I maybe ever have before. I've done more reading, talking, writing, experiencing, looking-up. More tasting of food. More engagement in face-to-face conversation. Less time-keeping, less screen-staring, less mindless scrolling, less worrying, less texting, less 'liking', less snapping.

Well, I got a new phone. And guess what? I've been on it all the TIME. But, BUT, I've only posted on Instagram once since I got back so... well, that's pretty good for me! But oh my gosh I'm so much more aware of how I'm using it and I've been making an effort to not have it at the dinner table, not check it so often, and not post so much on social media. I feel differently about it because I've proved one thing - that I can be without it. Let this be a lesson my friends.

It's been a wake-up call. It might not seem like a big deal but I can guarantee that YOU do it too - always have it nearby, always flicking through your apps. It's just our lives isn't it?
But it's helped me to see that I don't always need it in my hand, that I don't always need to share my photos, that I don't always need to reply to messages as soon as I receive them (I'm terrible at that, I hate to think that I'm keeping people waiting). Being without it has helped me to identify areas of myself that I need to work on and to question my intentions (like, so much). I never thought that I could live a week without a phone, let alone gain so much from it (headspace, clarity, awareness, more time, a reality-check!).

So, I hope your phone falls into the sea one day too (trust me, I mean that in the nicest possible way!).