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  • Valerie Stunning

A Tough Pill To Swallow


I spent the last few years engaging less with the internet, and all it led to was a whole new perspective on life. Shocking, I know.


I began pulling away from talking shit on social media in 2019 as a conscious shift in focus because I was launching a new mobile food business. This was no easy feat as I had been blogging and thirst trapping for years, cultivating a decadent image that only the backdrop of Sin City could facilitate.


Initially the time my business demanded caused me to feel torn between two worlds. After all, social media had helped me discover my writing voice, a passion for sharing personal stories that promoted conversation, and a knack for creating fun images. It also consumed an obscene amount of time.

But slowly, a peculiar thing started to happen. The more I allocated time to engaging in the real world, the more the internet overwhelmed me when I eventually logged back on. It was as if I was losing my callous to it, and I began to feel drained by the formulaic content I was consuming and had become guilty of creating. The thrill was gone.


I found the tactical nature of running a business in the analog world refreshing and surprisingly quiet. So damn quiet. I hadn’t realized how all of those hours spent on my feed lived in my brain like late night infomercials with the volume turned all the way up. Which had become my new normal. And while the city of Las Vegas is not exactly known for it’s chill, it’s chaos only accounted for a fraction of the stress I schlepped around. By stepping back, I was able to notice how the rest of the stress I internalized came from the white noise of the internet and the very real issues that binge scrolling helped me ignore.


Though getting back in touch with my self after years of dismissing her in favor of my self image was not as cute as it sounds. This was not a joyous reunion. There was no slow motion running toward one another with happy tears streaming down our faces yapping about how much we missed each other and now that we’re reconnected all is forgiven. This was a cagey sizing each other up as we tentatively approached each other from opposite ends of the earth only to try and cross the street at the last minute in hopes of pretending like we never saw each other.


Admitting that I had been lying to myself was a really tough pill to swallow. It meant I had to get real about how being chronically distracted had tainted much of my decision making. And once I knew, I couldn’t unknown. I was living a life and pursuing dreams an outdated version of myself had dreamed but my present day self no longer found fulfilling, in a city that no longer inspired me.


So I did what all lost spirits do when they are being bitch slapped by an existential crisis, I went to Alaska. For those of you who’ve never been, Alaska is an excellent place to be depressed. Especially if you’ve lived an overstimulating life in one of the world’s most overstimulating cities for an entire decade.



Upon arrival you are transported inside a Bob Ross painting, surrounded by gargantuan trees, austere mountains, crystal clear bodies of water, and majestic animals. And, should you choose not to engage with anyone, you can easily go mute for two whole ass weeks. The people up there are gifted at reading the room, especially when the room is saying: “free falling down a shame spiral, be back soon.”


Unbeknownst to me, the 16 days I would spend in the frozen North sulking, writing, exploring, critically examining every aspect of my life, and being cared for by friends would come to be the tip of the ice berg (lol, had to) for the massive changes, life over haul, and renewed inspiration to come.


Valerie Stunning Alaska 2021
Anchorage, Alaska. October 24, 2021

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