THREE MONTHS LATER: AN UPDATE
It’s been (nearly) three months since I hung up my tripod and stopped making videos for YouTube. Despite it being the biggest part of my life for nearly three years solid, I’ve quickly become acclimatised to the change in routine. I did think quitting would leave a play button-shaped hole in my heart and it would feel strange to not have to sit down in front of a camera every day, but, honestly, that part of my life feels weirdly like an old memory from another lifetime. I hardly recognise the person in those videos; even though it was only a few short months ago, it feels like Hollife is a completely different person to Holly.
There’s an undeniable slowness to my lifestyle now. Instead of the go-go-go of creating content, it feels like I’m finally truly resting. I have few tasks on my daily to-do lists compared to this time last year (especially since September through to December are the most lucrative months on YouTube) and I can take time to appreciate the things I’ve had no choice but to set aside. The house is completely renovated. I’m writing. I’m playing games I’d forgotten I had. I’m watching Glee! Mostly, though, I’m job-searching. The daunting task of deciding what I want to do for the rest of my life is softened slightly by the lack of opportunities in my area, so there isn’t many choices to make. As someone with little-to-no experience – employers don’t often consider YouTube a job, despite the hard work it entails – and no degree, I always knew it was going to be an uphill struggle to even get an interview, but I hadn’t considered that there was just nothing out there within a commutable distance for me. I’ve applied for some cleaning positions, a few retail, some office and the occasional ‘other’ (all rejected so far, of course), and I’ll keep trying for however long it takes, I suppose.
Despite the comforting feeling of relief and all the time to relax after quitting YouTube, I have been struggling with anxiety, both a side-effect of some medication and a side-effect of being desperately unemployed. Sometimes I’ll go an entire day worrying about the way I’m breathing, or I’ll spend the whole evening convinced my post-dinner indigestion is actually a heart attack. When I’m not in an anxious state of mind, I can laugh about how ridiculous I’m being, but it seems like the anxiety is here to stay for now, so I’m just learning to live and cope with it.
I mentioned the feeling of relief. It was like a tidal wave of it, washing me completely clean as I deleted every video and tidied away my huge lighting set-up. The claustrophobic box I imagined myself in was unlocked and I eagerly stepped out into the clear air. I felt like I could do anything. I had made the brave choice – it would have been too easy to continue – and I was excited for that change. And yes, I was relieved, too.
The pressure to succeed on YouTube is purely self-inflicted and impossible to measure. My mental health suffered drastically because of it; I felt like a failure if a new video didn’t get many views and I worried constantly about letting down my audience when I noticed an increase in Dislikes. I felt like I had to consistently upload to grow my channel, but I also only wanted to create content that I was proud of. Many videos were scrapped because they didn’t make the cut. The balance was often difficult to achieve.
I also found myself increasingly stressed with how much I needed to buy. There’s a huge consumerism problem within the beauty community, with most people seemingly buying every new launch, and those new launches happening every week. My wishlist for makeup grew increasingly longer every month, but I could never buy any of it; I always needed the brand new products for reviews. Reviews always did the best on my channel, so I ended up with so much makeup and only one face to put it on. Of course, this was completely my own decision and I could have made the conscious decision to not buy these products, but my obsessiveness with success shielded my better judgement and I found myself refreshing makeup sites waiting for the latest eyeshadow palettes to drop. If there was ever an influx of new-in items, it actually stressed me out thinking about how I was going to buy all everything and fit it into videos quick enough that they were still new-in.
Without it being a conscious decision, I stopped wearing makeup for a while after I stopped YouTube. Yes, I’d put something in my brows, under my eyes and on my lips (Fenty Fu$$y, always), but the days of a full coverage, cut-crease glam ‘beat’ were over. I think I needed a bit of a break in order to rekindle a flame for makeup that was spluttering and fading. As I’m writing this, I’m actually looking forward to doing ‘proper’ makeup again soon, and I’ve planned both a Halloween and Christmas makeup series for my Instagram. I’ve decluttered the makeup that didn’t bring me joy (there’s some still left on Depop…) and treated myself to some high-end products that were on my neglected wishlist. I want every piece of makeup I own to make me excited to use it. Makeup had turned into a chore when it was my job, but now it’s a pleasure.
I have already written about the influencer lifestyle and how it wasn’t for me in my previous post (ironically titled ‘The Last Blog Post’), but I need to reiterate how lovely it really is to be treated as a human again, and how wonderful it is to be able to share my feelings and opinions without fear of backlash. Hey! Guess what? I think Boris Johnson’s a twat! I’m pro-choice! I’m a proud feminist! I voted remain! See?! Wonderful. No one can tell me to keep politics out of my ‘brand’ any more. No one can tell me off encouraging smear test attendance, or for telling women that they shouldn’t feel ashamed for having multiple partners. I can even say the word VAGINA without someone unfollowing me. Well, they still can, but I don’t care.
You just don’t know what will happen in the future. Life is very much an open door (albeit one with a giant question mark in the doorway) and as I approach my twenty-fifth birthday with an off mixture of emotions – fear, hope, disappointment, backache – I only wish for happiness and health in whatever is thrown my way next. Because I have no idea what will happen. No idea at all.