Finishing university is a very anti-climactic time for some people I imagine. Right now the situation is unravelling like that for me. I can acknowledge that I’m incredibly lucky to be in a place of leaving university knowing that I have income and a good job as well as being able to move back home to my parents. My emotions since walking out of my last ever lecture and getting my last assignment results back have been very stable smack bang between ‘slight anxiety’ and ‘slight excitement’ of the oncoming future. I feel very disengaged from the entire process, as if the summer is just breezing past in front of me.
general writing worries
I often worry and get quite genuinely upset that I did my entire three years at University wrong. That I didn’t appreciate the opportunities put in front of me or take in any of the lessons that could have benefited me. As a student in creative writing and an aspiring writer, all I want is to feel happy and pleased with the words, prose or nonsense that is released when I put pen to paper or text to document. But even as I write this blog post I feel like my writing is compatible to a toddler who is excelling a bit faster than the rest of the literacy class. Sure at the age of six it makes them a wonder child, meant for amazing things. But at the age of twenty-three, I feel I’ve become stagnant and that I’m constantly way in over my head when I call myself an aspiring writer or make plans to write a book or poetry collection or even a blog.
poor self-esteem and social media do not go well together
Social media and it’s effect on my mental health has been, frankly, a constant bloody migraine in the past two and a half years. University is a great time, especially when you connect yourself to societies or big groups of people, as you get to see many different people explore themselves and grow and change. It can bring out both the best and worst in people. One of the worst things it brought out in me? I have a disgusting habit to compare myself to others and get pathetically envious when people excel at a faster rate than me at similar hobbies. I can be happy for people but I would be a fat liar if I said there wasn’t times in the past three years where I had literally cried that I should give up writing because I saw my peers who weren’t even planning to become writers or weren’t doing similar degrees get more ‘social media’ likes and shares when they decided to create blogs and such. Wrapped up in my own crushed ego, all I desired was to be known in a social group as the ‘writer’, the ‘blogger’. To have my hard work acknowledged and regularly have support. These high expectations placed on other students, who were probably struggling with their own self beliefs and attempts to find what they were good at, only doomed to fail and I found myself throughout third year feeling invisible and convincing myself that if I wasn’t getting likes, shares and support online then I was nothing.
my experience with instagram
I think I’ve had about four Instagram accounts in my whole university ‘period’. I’ve tried to find a personal branding by making accounts for this blog, for my ‘eco-conscious’ journey and even a ‘bookstagram’. I had a thirst for a link to a community. I just wanted to feel like my voice was being heard. It hurt and would reduce me to tears if I felt like I was putting out too much of myself online, only for nobody to interact. It felt desperate and embarassing. I was stuck in a spiral of putting a part of my work, my voice and myself online in hopes it would help someone or speak to someone and to not get an instant response, I would blame myself. I would feel disappointed in friends even though I knew they were trying their best to support me. I had incredibly selfish expectations that could only be settled by instant-gratification and that gratification would fade so fast. The thing is with social media blogging and having it come to a point of being obsessive and basing your whole worth on it is that you begin to struggle with communicating your emotions, upset, mental health effects and worries out loud or through spoken word. I felt trying to explain any of this to a counsellor or family member would be pointless. Pathetically, I would then express my disdain, my depression and my frustrations through what I’d personally call ‘online outbursts’. I’d write some vague nonsense on an Instagram story, a tweet or such whilst being emotional and then when my ‘rational thoughts’ kicked in later and I realised I was getting upset over social media, a concept that didn’t even exist when I was a kid and really will mean nothing 20 or 50 years in the future when my life is different, I delete the post and humble myself over my actions.
My obsessive attachment to social media and trying to construct an ideal personality and representation of myself, because deep down I cannot really pinpoint what personality I have or who I am, is unusually unhealthy and I always wonder if social media-inflicted poor mental health is more common than I think. But that’s a personal issue I’m sure I’ll deal with one day or maybe even write about (ironic if that became my first ever publication – how to deal with having a toxic attachment to social media to the point of not knowing who you are without it! – might patent it now.)
why I think a break will be a good idea
So, now I have realised that there’s something inherently wrong and worrying at the fact I base my writing worth or talent worth or actual self worth on how many likes I get or whether or not I can get an ‘aesthetically-pleasing’ photo with my phone. I think it’s time to seperate myself from most of it. The reason I’m also including my blog in this is that I know I’m not happy with anything I write on my blog at the moment, and even when I push myself to write something, I ridiculously use the lack of shares or likes or interaction from social media as ‘proof’ towards myself that I can’t write or whatever negative self-bullying I have pre-prepared in my brain that day. I believe I might benefit from taking a hiatus from my blog and maybe coming back one day when I feel more confident in my writing or my confidence and self-talk has become more positive so that I won’t care what ‘support’ or ‘interaction’ I get. I would like to come back to my blog when I’m back in a place where I want to write for me and anything that comes out of it is just a bonus. Unfortunately I am nowhere near that place right now. Even if I tell myself that I’m writing for me, I find myself checking the likes or asking people if they’ve read it.
Therefore, I’ll be taking a break from my blog and I am also disabling my Instagram to push myself to live life for what it is. I find often I am not completely present in moments or situations in my day-to-day life and that I feel I can’t prove a good thing has happened unless I put it on Instagram. I find myself dissociating and isolating myself to check my phone, to edit photos and take several photos to get that ‘aesthetically-pleasing’ shot. You know it’s sad when you care more if a photo is ‘inline with your feed’ than actually capturing a moment you enjoy. I find myself writing blog posts or making interactive Instagram stories thinking ‘nobody’s going to read this anyways’ and looking for evidence to sustain this self-belief of ‘nobody cares about my work’ which is just depressing overall. This spiral or this compulsive behaviour associated with social media and my blog is detrimental to my mental health and can also affect my relationships with other people. I don’t want it to keep doing this. I don’t want to isolate myself especially if I feel alone online anyways.
I do appreciate if you’ve read all the way to this point and I’m sorry it’s such a winding ramble. I hope one day I can come back to my blog or find a time where I can use social media just as much as everyone else healthily. I wish for a time where I can put my creative work whether it’s blogging, reviews, art, poetry or photography online and do it for me and not compulsively check for other people’s affirmations or acknowledgement. I am eternally grateful for the friends, followers and people who may have always read my posts or interacted.
So hopefully this seperation, especially as I’m finishing university and unleashing myself into a summer of a lot of free time (slightly scary), will be good for me and I’ll be able to become a lot more happy, confident and self-assured.