*This* Is Helping Me Discover My Authentic Self

by Kaitlyn Vagner

Even though dating apps are most popular among Millennials, according to a recent Bustle survey with dating app Happn of over 1,000 dating app users, 78 percent of women and 85 percent of men still want to meet people IRL. That's why for the second year in a row, Bustle is deeming April, "App-less April" and encouraging our staff and readers to delete their dating apps for 30 days and meet people the old-fashioned way: offline. With participants tracking their progress and tricks and tips from dating experts, we'll be helping you feel empowered to meet people IRL all month long.

This month, I've committed myself to Bustle's App-Less April challenge. I deleted all of my dating apps from my phones for entirety of the month. Pressing the X seems like a simple task, however, it has impacted my life and my spiritual state tremendously. Dating apps helped me meet potential partners and many of my friends. By purging my life of all of my dating apps, I have thus liberated myself from the confines of *needing* technology as a pre-requisite for all of my social interactions and my dating life.

"Dating apps make it easier to get dates in some aspects due to the nature of having hundreds of possibilities at your fingertips," NYC-based individual and couples therapist, Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle. "However, when you're swiping through a dating app at home or work and get no responses (or worse, inappropriate messages), it can have a major effect on your self-esteem because it's happening to you in a place where you usually feel safe."

Since beginning the challenge, my day-to-day actions have changed greatly. I've ditched my toxic and consuming habit of using dating apps for hours during the day, whether it be to alleviate boredom or fulfill some deeply rooted sense of loneliness. I realized that I have a finite amount of time and energy, and expending any of it on a technological world was detrimental. By ending my reliance on dating apps, I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I've expanded my horizons and taken new efforts to meet people offline and in real life. Here are a few big revelations I've had during App-less April.

Even when dating apps were driving me crazy and leaving me feeling frustrated and in despair, I still relied on them. They gave me a sense of connectedness with the world, and even when I was being ghosted and ignored, they made me feel a little less lonely. App-less April has demonstrated to me that my day does not need to include meaningless social interactions through dating apps. I'm more than capable of living-and thriving-on my own.

I think that when some of us use dating apps, we try to portray an image to an outside world of ourselves. We post our photos and our brief two-line descriptions on our profiles in order to depict a persona to other people. This becomes totally suffocating and we are essentially living for other people in an image that may not be fully authentic. When I used dating apps as a social crutch, I was shy and terrified of initiating social interactions. By unplugging, App-less April has brought out my genuine self. Yes, I am 100 percent capable of talking to that hot stranger across the bar.

Eliminating dating apps from my life means that I have had to venture into new social territory. I've been attending social events that I otherwise would not have not gone to, on my own, and still having an incredible time.

If you've ever ditched an old habit or made an effort to start living a new way of life, you may have found that the process fills you with newfound clarity or a new sense of direction. I've stripped my life of old, negative energies and I'm actively taking steps to fill my life with positivity and new people who inspire me to become my best self.

Join the campaign and share your stories with #ApplessApril and ​by ​tagging @Bustle.