[Photo credit: Charlotte @ Bookmarks and Blogging]
This is something I’ve been meaning to write for awhile. I’m talking months. Almost an entire year. But the ironic thing I found out was that writing about self confidence proves to be a hard thing when you’re up against….well, your self confidence. Or more accurately, lack of.
But here’s the thing.
I’ve always, always heard people assume that just because a person shows themselves on the internet, that person is confident. That person is happy with themselves. That person is happy being on camera. I’ve heard so many people say about people who film or upload photos of themselves “they don’t have low esteem, they put themselves on the internet”.
Alright pal. You’re wrong but sure.
Being a blogger, I understood how this was just not right. I found myself feeling knocked down for seemingly no reason, just through comparisons of other people’s content who I adored compared to my own. But it’s only been the past year or so where it got a whole lot more intense.
I’m not one to hide the fact I have problems with my mental health. If I were to talk about what that covers any more in depth than that, we’d be here for decades. But for the past year or so it’s become a more prominent thing in my life, and while I have a handle on things now it’s very much always there. And it does make literally everything in life a thousand times harder. And believe it or not, that even includes the things you love.
So let’s talk through it. Being a booktuber, I have to watch and listen to myself many, many times. Just for one video, I’ll have to watch the initial video to make sure it filmed properly, break it down and watch it second by second in the editing process, repeatedly go back and make sure all the clips fit together properly, watch the final product to make sure everything’s edited smoothly, and watch it through again while transcribing the subtitles. And that’s the shortest process – imagine something goes wrong somewhere along the way…go back and repeat a step! So as you can imagine, I see and hear myself a lot. Too much, in my mind. My mental health makes it so difficult for me to like anything about myself, my self confidence is a tiny smidgen of a thing that only shows on particularly good days when around people I feel comfortable with. No, I’m not saying this to gain pity – I’m saying it to try and put any sort of context in place. Which proves futile really, considering I could never describe that feeling.
But the point of all that context was to explain how before I even begin to film anything, I have to make sure I’m in a good enough mindset to do so. And it’s a precarious process, because maybe I’ll start off fine while filming but then the editing process will trigger horrible thoughts and I’ll delete the entire video, going into hibernation for awhile. And before I even got that far, I used to refilm every video I make. Before getting my camera with a viewfinder this summer, there hadn’t been one time where I’d filmed a video and been happy with it first time. Every video I’ve created up until July (besides the 3 or 4 vlogs I have) has been filmed at least twice, which is actually shocking to think about when you know I’ve uploaded weekly since I started my channel almost two years ago.
And still, all this I can deal with most days. The worst part actually proves to be the subtitles. I transcribe the subtitles to my videos myself (because autofill is useless), and it tends to be this process that’s most likely to send things falling. It’s at this point where I have to listen to every single word I say, notice how many times I repeat the same phrases or how often I say the completely wrong word. It’s at this point where I realise how unintelligent I sound, something that hits particularly hard. I’ve already written about how I value intelligence probably too much for my own good, so you can read that here to understand
(it’s Hermione Granger’s fault, I’m telling you). And yet despite this being an optional part to the video creating process – and something most people don’t do – I can’t leave it at this point. People actually do use my subtitles, and I’m not about to take that away from them.
So this is the mental process behind every video I make. It does go on, each and every time I upload a video, blog post, or photo online. I’m having a good day and post a selfie? I’m being vain. Post photos of a day out with friends? I’m showing off. Upload a new video? Here’s a list of things wrong with it. New blog post? No one will comment or even read it. People know of me but I’m easily forgotten. I’m not part of any particular group. People might start finding me the roll-your-eyes sort of annoying. I sound unintelligent because I’m stuttering, pausing and repeating things a lot. It’s endless and it’s brutal, its my day-to-day life and no doubt many other people’s too.
It’s not so hard now – the harsh side of my brain is stamped down easier and my love for filming booktube videos almost always wins out. But those ignorant claims that I’m actually really confident because I have videos and photos of myself dotted about online? Or the ones that assume I’m just putting on an act? They make me want to scream, yell, fight, tear my hair out, do anything. It’s so frustrating, not being able to vocalise how your own brain is being shit and how hard it is to break the belief behind it. To explain how day to day life can actually run without any obvious inkling of this showing. To know how many fights you just had with yourself simply to upload something, or leave the house, or even to move. It’s exhausting.
We all have ways of managing things. Different sentiments our brains allow. Here are some of mine:
My booktube videos are perfectly fine going online because I have total control behind them. I choose what goes in them, how they’re edited, the thumbnails that give the initial impression and all that follows. If I don’t like how I look, sound, hold myself, explain something, anything, it doesn’t go up.
I might upload photos of myself if I’ve been on a day out or something, but these will almost definitely have been taken by me or be a photo from behind so you can’t see my face. Again, if I’m taking them I have control over where it goes and who sees it. I know my “good angles” and won’t be caught off guard. It’s rare that I actually like how I look in a photo if someone else has taken it. Still, I try not to be too bothered about it, but some days are harder than others.
Writing my own subtitles means I can add the more colloquial aspect to them, adding in the “ums” and stutterings and anything that shows things don’t just spill out of my mouth in fluent prose. I can’t change these things, so I embrace them. If anything, it just makes my subtitles feel more like the friendly/chatty style rather than a robot substitute.
If I’m finding it hard to leave the house to see people, I promise myself I can return home at any point. Just go outside, one step after another, see how things go, and if I still feel crap? Go home. I tried and today was just not my day. But the likelihood is I’ll feel better once with other people, have a nice time out and then can return home, get all cosy with my books and chill out, knowing I did it.
I am myself in all these cases, but there’s still a level of control there. If I’m not happy with how I am that day, no one has to see. But meeting someone in person, for example, throws that all out the window. You won’t permanently face me straight on like in my videos, you’ll see me from all angles. You’ll see the side profile that I despise. I don’t get to present myself under flattering lighting, or cut out my stutterings. You’ll see me unedited, and while that person is the same person you may have already seen online, to me it’s entirely different.
Self confidence is relative to each person, each situation, each day. For people to ignorantly claim low self esteem is impossible because that person dares to do more than bury themselves in a duvet and never leave the house is ridiculous. Everyone feels a lack of confidence once in awhile, and yet the stigma seems to raise the second “once in awhile” becomes “most of the time”. So we stay quiet. And here we are now.
It’s OK not to be confident. It’s OK claiming to be so while still daring to show your face. You know how it works for yourself. I hope that any one of you who has low self esteem at least have your better days. If you feel like it, show yourself online, show up to events, acknowledge how fab your outfit is or how your eyeliner is slayin’ today. Any small victory is something. And I shall be cheering on each and every one of you ❤
Until next time,