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What I Learned From Two Weeks Without My Cell Phone

I watched my phone sit in the bag of rice. 72 hours. I was counting down. Waiting to get it back and see who texted me, who Snapchatted me, who emailed me, who missed me while I was off the grid. Seventy-two hours went, but my phone did not come back to life.

Two weeks before I was next slated to go home, my phone broke and I decided to wait to get a new one until I was home. As a sophomore in college, I would be going the longest I had gone without a cell phone since I was in fifth grade. That’s right, I had had a phone glued to my palm for nine straight years, and it was just ripped out of my hand. In this time, several things became clear to me, and I’ve made a couple of resolutions for when I get my phone back.

I worked harder when I didn’t have my phone to distract me.

This revelation wasn’t particularly shocking to me. However, since this occurred over a heavy loaded work week, I found it extremely helpful to not have my phone. I wasn’t taking breaks to check Instagram; instead I kept working while those around me goofed off, and I got grades on my exams that reflected my hard work. I’m not necessarily lazy when I have my cell phone on me, but I waste a lot of extra time checking social media when I get frustrated in my studies, whereas, without my phone, I powered through.

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In the future, when I have my baby back, I’m going to try and leave it in my dorm room when I have a major study session planned, such as before a big exam or before an essay is due.

I cared less what people thought of me when I didn’t have a cell phone. 

These two things sound unrelated, but hear me out. Without my phone, I was off of social media. I was away from touched-up pictures of pretty people and my friends having fun. And as a surprising result, I spent nearly every phone-free day without makeup on. I never would’ve thought that my appearance would change if my phone was broken, however, I think that without the bombardment of filtered images on social media, I felt less pressured to look perfect, and I took the time without my phone as a break from makeup and lengthy morning routines.

I’m going to try and remember that wearing makeup should be for me. I should wear makeup when I want to put it on, because I like the way it looks. I shouldn’t feel forced into changing my appearance for other people, and especially not for the internet/social media because people pay less attention to my appearance in pictures than I think they do.

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People use cell phones as excuses to be late.

I’m sure we’ve all gotten this text: “I’m going to be a little late.” Because we have cell phones, we don’t mind keeping people waiting because we’ll let them know, right? They can just play on their phone in the restaurant until I show up. I spent a lot of time waiting in my two weeks without a phone.

I had agreed to meet someone at 8 and they showed up at 8:30. They probably didn’t think much of it. They probably showed up late a lot, were used to texting me to kill some extra time. But the wait felt much longer when I didn’t have a phone because I didn’t know when they were coming. I couldn’t walk away, because I couldn’t tell them where I was going. I do the same thing. I change my errands list on a whim and tell people to give me some extra time before I show up. But I realize now that, without a phone, I felt the last-minute late policy was rude. Just because we all have cell phones doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the time of our friends and family.

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I’m going to try and honor the time I set with friends. I’ll probably have to hit snooze fewer times and decide on outfits faster, but that’s definitely worth showing my friends I care. 

I’ve made a general resolution to be more present. Yes, I am thrilled to have my phone back. I’m back on all of my social media platforms and am texting around the clock. But, I think that any time I shut my phone off or leave it behind in 2016 will be time I cherish. It’ll be time I can focus on the people I’m with and the places I’m blessed to be at, and my schoolwork, too.

Casey Schmauder is a Campus Correspondent and the President of Her Campus at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a senior at Pitt studying English Nonfiction Writing with a concentration in Public and Professional Writing. 
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