The Secret Life of Influencers

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Scroll through whatever social media platform you use, and before you know it, you'll see someone selling you a fantasy about what their life or business looks like. We're talking about motivational speakers, coaches, and influencers who are trying to show you that their life is all #brunches, #drinks, #poolparties and #livingthelife of a socialite. When they're not doing that, they're showing you a life of "today's office", " daily grind", or using the products and visiting the places that they love to use.

This is business for them. They're in the business of building and maintaining an engaged audience. Believe it or not, I'm in the same business. The bigger my audience, the more lives I get to help. It's not good or bad, it's just how businesses function in this modern age.

The trouble is that we also live in an age of people growing up wanting fame, an influence for the sake of wanting lots of people to validate them as individuals. This is a slippery slope that has a pool of sinking sand waiting at the bottom of the slide.

So allow me to explain what the other side of fame, influence, and celebrity life actually is. This isn't something that I'm spectating from some quiet corner of the world. This is from my experience consulting with a number of people that play these roles that you may look up to or even follow.

I want to help level the playing field between you and what you idolise in others. This isn't some take-down piece criticising and protesting the celebrity culture. It's an attempt to help you break out of your current mindset of how you see yourself and build a deeper sense of self-worth in who you are. Not who you think you should be.

We live in a world climate where people are put up on pedestals, infatuated with, and idolised for details that just don't exist. So let's take a closer look at the fantasies that you're seeing.

#TheStruggleIsReal (No really, it is)

Here's what the idols, celebrities, and influencers are actually wrestling with under the surface while displaying a different side publicly:

  • they compare themselves to their other influencers (especially friends)
  • they struggle with self-doubt
  • they don't know who they are without their followers' likes and comments
  • they feel like they need to do things for the acceptance of their audience
  • they don't know how to overcome their inner-critic
  • they feel like a fraud most of the time, especially when selling products they don't personally use
  • they're scared to show the world just how insecure they truly are in their private lives.
  • they don't manage their money very well, so they accept all kinds of work (even if they don't like it or the businesses who make them)
  • to maintain the image of an idealised lifestyle they live beyond their means and spend more than they get paid
  • they don't know who is genuinely interested in their friendship and who wants to use their 'friendship' for fame and attention.
  • they get overwhelmed with how much attention they get on social media
  • they wrestle with anxiety, panic, depression, body dysmorphia, and many other insecurities
  • they struggle with trying to maintain an image of being a hero/heroine or an idol for their audience
  • they're forever chasing approval, validation and acceptance from people around them, especially their audience
  • they wildly mismanage their time and don't know how to get on top of it
  • they're under the impression that more followers equal more money (many influencers aren't getting much more than 4-5k per month with over 400k followers because they're focussed on getting more followers 
  • because they're focussed on getting more followers, they forever feel like they're in service of the faceless masses
  • the only reason they are considered a somebody is because many people follow them
  • many of them have strained relationships with their parents

To be clear, this list isn't to shame or humiliate the social-media influencers. I have clients who are influencers. Believe it or not, this is what they want people to know about their struggles. They're just scared to show this side because they're worried people will take advantage of their vulnerability.

So, What Does This Mean For You?

Well, every time you scroll through your social media feed to see all of these various posts and stories being posted online, what's taking place in your mind?

You're building up a fantasy of what their lives look like. You have an idea of what their life must look like based on the little information that's being fed to you. They give you glimpses, moments of their life to make it appear a certain way.

Because your mind does a brilliant job of filling in the blanks with a colourful imagination of what their lives look like, it drives you to dream about having a life like theirs. Here's where it gets particularly sticky and maybe even scary for some of you.

What is fueling this perception that their life is a fantasy is your discontent with your own life. You might feel like you're not important, you don't have many people valuing you, you don't get much validation, and you don't get a lot of respect from people around you.

When you combine the void that you feel in your life along with the fantasy that is being shown to you on social media, this keeps you hooked in and coming back for more of the 'fantasy'.

Here's an interesting thought. What if you were the one creating the influencer/celebrity personalities that you're looking up to?

Think about it, are you not feeding the beast that is the pride and shame of these individuals who are receiving your validation and recurring consumption of their content? If social media was to shut down their accounts and ban them from the platforms they have, what would they do with themselves?

Most of them wouldn't know how to handle it because they associate so much of their self-worth from whether you, as a follower or audience member, validate and approve of them.

Your 'Likes' Impact Their Self-Worth... and Yours!

Here's the biggest problem with this psychological dichotomy for you: your admiration for these influencers and celebrities means you don't value who you are.

Your valuation of them and idolisation of them does two things:

  1. 1
    It leads you to believe that you don't have the same qualities and behaviours as they do. (Hint: you do)
  2. 2
    Believing they have amazing lives means you don't appreciate the one you have made for yourself. You undermine any value in your own life.

This is a one-two combo to your self-worth and sets you up to depreciate who you truly are.

Here is why I'm writing this: you're idolising and admiring people who have self-worth difficulties just like you. They have the same insecurities you do, and while you think you're aspiring to be like them, you're not aware that you're aspiring to be someone who has self-worth difficulties. They're showing you a highlight reel of footage and photos while you're not seeing the behind-the-scenes footage of what it took to create the highlights. And the cherry on top is that while you admire them, you're creating self-worth difficulties for yourself in realtime.

Your admiration for these people breeds discontentment for your life. I couldn't want anything less for you. I would love for you to be able to recognise just how brilliant, magnificent and inspiring you are. As long as you're looking up to people who don't feel inspiring and have deep personal struggles with their own self-worth, you'll never allow your inner brilliance, wonder, and worthiness to shine.

Take It From an Influencers' Influencer

Now keep in mind, not all influencers and celebrities promote a one-sided story. There are a number of influencers who are sharing the story of their struggles and challenges as much as they promote a positive image. If you are going to follow an influencer's journey, it would be wise to follow those who show a more balanced perspective of their lives. You might already be following some influencers who fit this description. Who knows, they may have even worked with me.

Having consulted with the people you look up to, let me make it clear for you: they're struggling with themselves. They're deeply scared to show you their real authentic selves, and they work with me to establish a sense of self-worth and self-belief. Deep down, like you, they want to know how to love and appreciate themselves and not feel so judgmental of themselves.

Find the necessary path for you to go and work on yourself. If it's working with a professional who offers the same kind of help as I do, then do that. If it means opening up to people around you about how much you're struggling, do that. Whatever gets the ball rolling and starts the momentum towards you learning to love yourself for who you are.

It's a cliche but it's the reason my business exists. People like you are looking for help to appreciate themselves for who they are, as they are.

The way your life is going to transform from a mediocre one into one that you can't wait to get up and live, happens by appreciating and loving yourself first. That's when things start to change.

And if you get swept up in admiration of these influencers again, come back and read the list of their struggles as a reminder of just how human they are. If you read it enough, who knows, you may just realise how special you are for living a 'real' life.