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Online vs. Reality: Finding the Balance

I’ve been doing social media as a job for years. I first started taking social media seriously around the age of 13 and I always knew if I worked hard enough, I could start earning an income from it. It wasn’t until around the age of 15 that I earned my first check from advertising revenue on YouTube. I didn’t make a lot at the time, but it was enough to inspire me to keep going.

When I tell people I do social media as my job, I don’t always get a nice response. Many like to tell me that it’s just a hobby and it isn’t the same level of work to be considered a job. Although I can see where they are coming from, I’ve put a lot of work into it for it to just be considered a hobby.

Every week as a young teenager I would spend my Wednesday and Thursday nights planning videos and writing scripts for upcoming videos. These scripts would be so detailed that I would even include the camera angles for each shot. Then Friday through Sunday, I would spend the entire day filming my videos and refilming each shot until it was perfect. On Monday and Tuesday, I would edit my videos. Sometimes the editing would take so long I wouldn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. Then, I still had TikTok posts to make and emails for brand deals to respond to. I believed that everything I posted was a piece of art and I treated it as such.

This occupied all of my free time. Unlike other kids my age, I didn’t have much of a social life. I would miss out on important events in a high schooler’s life like school dances. During the school days, all I would think about was what videos I was going to make next and how my other content was performing. I began to feel isolated socially and felt like I was always missing out on something. What kept me going was the idea that I had the opportunity to make a lot of money and I was creating something for others to enjoy. I never planned on quitting, but it got to the point where I believed if I didn’t take a step back, I would experience burnout.

I decided that the best solution was to take a step back from social media and not post as often anymore. I wanted to get more involved at school, so I joined the cheer team and my high school’s newscast team. I still did social media, but now it didn’t fully consume my time and I had more of a balance in my life. Instead of creating two YouTube videos a week, I made videos when I had the time and only two to three TikTok posts every week. Although I did struggle with the idea that I wouldn’t be making as much money and I was letting my audience down, I was happier overall.

Now as a college student, I am busier than ever. On top of taking difficult courses that require hours of homework, I also try to stay involved on campus by joining organizations such as Color Guard, which consists of both a fall and a spring season. It’s more challenging now than ever to find time to make social media content. I often find myself filming late at night because that’s the only time I have and I don’t want to disturb my roommates. It’s also hard knowing that my social media isn’t growing at the rate it used to be. Since I also depend on the income I make from it as my job, I regularly ask myself if I’m making the right decision with what I’m spending my time doing. It’s a question I still haven’t figured out yet. I enjoy making content, but I still need to find the right balance between school and work. I am afraid I’m making the wrong choice all the time, but if I spend too much time regretting my choices, I won’t get anywhere with my online platform or my academic life.

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