In Glasgow especially, this generation has been brought up in a culture where having a passion is a slag-able offence that only becomes acceptable when someone “popular” does it.
When used correctly, social media can be an excellent tool for kick-starting a career. Just look at the surge of MUAs and PTs whose client-base is largely built on Instagram. But taking that initial step to put yourself out there can be daunting.
For many, fearing what others think is enough to put them off. I used to be one of those people. In Glasgow especially, this generation has been brought up in a culture where having a passion is a slag-able offence that only becomes acceptable when someone “popular” does it. It all starts in high school, where social stratification is rife. We’ve all been guilty of laughing at others for doing something out of the ordinary. We only laugh because we’d be too insecure to do it ourselves. Since I have let go of those insecurities, it genuinely gives me joy when I see someone has created an Instagram page purely to showcase their artwork, or to promote their business, or has started a YouTube channel. I think “good for you”. Here’s my story of how I’ve finally shredded those inhibitions and stopped slagging off others for pursuing their passions. I hope it encourages others to do the same!
Leaving school six years ago (wow) and starting college was a breath of fresh air for me. Sixth year? I didn’t want to know her. As soon as I got my Higher Drama qualification, I wasted no time in jumping straight into a cushty little HND in Acting and Performance. After years of feeling pressure to conform, I could finally relax as I was surrounded by fellow dramaturges. I had escaped the shark tank wherein participation of any kind in a school show resulted in immediate demotion to the bottom ranks of the social hierarchy. I was transported into a world where drama wasn’t the piss-take subject, it was THE subject. A respected subject. I had the best time at college.
In my new drama haven, I was bursting with ideas for sketches and characters and longed to showcase them. But in the shackles of social media, I was trapped in a network of high-school alumni and allowed myself to feel restricted in what I could post, terrified of being judged and mocked in a group chat, or worse – the unthinkable – someone tagging their friend in my post. A secret vine account was my only artistic outlet if you will, shared only among my closest friends (you know who you are, and you are welcome). I’d hear stories of actors being discovered on YouTube but thought myself wise not to start a secret channel, as I knew it wouldn’t be a secret for long if I intended on using it to get exposure. So I ruled it out (besides from a certain Harry Potter video…) I decided it would be much safer to keep the acting for college and off the internet. Not exactly the recipe for success in the industry nowadays.
After two gap-years I returned to education. My HND fast-tracked me into 3rd year BA (hons) Performance, back to doing what I loved. Or thought I loved. I can’t pinpoint exactly when my passion for acting faded, but looking back on how I allowed my inhibitions to dominate my desire to break into the industry makes me question if it was ever truly present in the first place. Was I using fear as an excuse because deep down I didn’t really want it? Who knows, my degree isn’t in psychology, after all. I’ve always loved writing, even essays could be enjoyable. Writing my dissertation was a cathartic experience for me (I’m aware this makes me sound like an absolute w*nker, but it’s true). I enjoy the news way too much and of course there’s still that part of me that loves being in front of a camera. Lo! A new passion was born. Journalism was the path for me, and it is the path I am currently pursuing, with my course starting in September (buzzing).
High school is now a distant memory, but it is only this year I have let go of the insecurities that were formulated back then. Why? Because the penny finally dropped:
Literally no-one cares.
Writing blogs was an unthinkable pastime back in the day. But that was just my own narcissism talking. Sure, some people might scoff but the truth is people have better things to worry about. It even took me a while to admit I volunteer with community radio, then I remembered, literally. No-one. Cares. It’s not much, a blog and community radio, but I’m putting myself out there and at the end of the day, I’ve got to start somewhere.
So I highly encourage anyone who is still holding themselves back on social media in terms of pursuing a career to just go for it, whether it be personal training, make-up, art or performing. If done in the correct way, it is more likely to pay off than not. Anyone bitter enough to mock you clearly has a big empty hole in their life and making fun of others is the only way they know how to fill it. But the reality is, the people you think will you judge for it probably aren’t even paying attention. So just do it, you might even be surprised at the support you receive!