The Day “Self-Help Content” Stopped Helping Me

The other day I told my partner, “I’ve heard something on this podcast that really made me think. It goes ” The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“”. Well, something along those lines anyway. He looked at me and said, “Yeah (sigh), I don’t really connect to that, I mean, this kind of stuff just goes without saying. What’s the point of that kind of affirmation anyway?

I thought he had a point, but to be honest I also thought, because he doesn’t have Instagram or listen to podcasts, “Well, he doesn’t really get it, he’s not familiar with that kind of content. He might see it from a, not hostile per say but “meh” point of view.

A few days later, I heard the exact same sentence on another podcast, and for some reason, it made me feel really angry. I don’t know if I was angry at myself, or the type of content I ingest, or both, but I decided it was all a bit too much. What was? All the “self-help” content I listened to, watched, read about.

*When I talk about self-help here, I know the term probably is too vast, and a business podcast for instance might not be considered like self-help content, but basically to me it means, any content related to how to improve your life, be successful, be better at communicating, be confident etc. Hope it’s clear!

It started with a few success stories about people making it. It would usually go like this “I started from nothing, worked my ass off before and after going to my everyday job, and after a lot of hard work, not seeing my friends, or family because of the amount of work I was dedicated to throw myself into, it finally…worked. See what I did there?

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.

I could not stop consuming stories about entrepreneurs, content creators, self-help book writers, people who inspired me. And, don’t get me wrong, some of them still do BUT, we’ll come onto that later.

Then followed, videos, TED talks, articles, Linkedin posts. They were all about the same idea, turned into a statement: you are responsible for your own happiness. Which, let’s be REAL, and nuanced, is so simplistic and just not true. It simply doesn’t take into account, culture, social background, education, life shit, anything. It’s an affirmation making you responsible for your own happiness but it sort of means that, if you’re not happy, well, guess what? That’s on you as well.

Then I started to see people on Instagram telling their audience, “I know I posted this amazing photo of me on holidays looking glowy and all but just know that right now, I look and/or feel like shit.” And everytime I saw that kind of post I thought, “Ok, then Why would you post that amazing looking picture of you in the first place? And then remind us that, hey, it’s not real life folks, don’t forget!” Some say, “I want my account to be positive, I want to spread joy”, etc. Which is a nice thought. Yet, they must be aware that this type of content does not have that much of a positive impact on people if they keep having to apologize for it, or deconstruct the images they put on Social Media for the sake of being honest and more transparent, right?

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It all started to make me feel dizzy, guilty and worst of all, small. I remember walking around in my flat, cleaning or folding my clothes away, listening to this podcast and hearing for the second time in a few days : “The only difference between you and the people who are successful, is that they’re doing it, you’re not“.

I stopped doing what I was doing, and said out loud, “Stop. This had to stop“.

I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

Consuming all this so called “self-help” content was not helping me at all. Years ago I’d be excited about it, it felt really new and full of hope, and I guess in a way, it was really new and full of hope, and probably necessary as well. However that day, I thought, ” Too much “self-help” content is eventually going to fuck me up.

I don’t even think I want to be an entrepreneur. I don’t like to fake it until I make it. I don’t think it’s easier to give up than to pursue your dreams, it’s way more complicated. I don’t like making lists, I always loose them or if I don’t, I forget to tick the boxes. I don’t even like baths and candles, it’s so boring it does not help me to reset at all. I don’t want to meditate, or maybe I do, but ultimately, do I want to hear about other people LOVING it all the time?

I miss raw content, unedited honesty. I miss real life stories. You might argue that culture, online content should or could, amongst other things, make us dream. And I agree. The thing is what I was consuming was not making me dream anymore. Because you know what makes me dream? Real life. With its flaws, errors, misundersantings, wobbles, failures, successes, joys, hopes. All of it. I’m sick of the edited version. I don’t love the word authenticity but I’m going to be crazy and say that, I want more of it.

I want the good, the bad and the ugly.

This post is a bit rambly. You might disagree or think it’s just another rant against society, consumerism, social media, and it might as well be. Oh also, I’m well aware I might be contributing to that, yet aren’t we all? I’m not sitting here judging everyone, I’m just being honest.  Anyway, I’m now choosing very carefully what I watch, read, listen to “self-help” wise, and I’ll share it with you soon. I touched on that a few months ago, and I’ve already done a bit of clear out this summer. But it’s not over.

What do you think about all this? Do you feel the same or not at all?

This space is called Le Beauty Journal and I like to think beautiful things in life can be rough, raw and real. Same goes for happiness and success. Failures and disappointments. We’re just doing our best. Don’t you think we might need less “self-help” if we could just help each other?

It’s the little things you know.

In all honesty, if that’s what it takes to grow an audience as a blogger on Social Media, I hate it. 

I’m feeling uninspired because though my blog is only 4 months old, I’ve been stuck in a rut for a few weeks now, because I seem to have lost a battle against myself. Let me explain.

When I started this blog, I really wanted it to be a place where I feature makeup and skincare items and beauty stories that inspire me in a #prettyreal way. Meaning to illustrate my articles, I’d take pictures that would be realistic. If the tone of Le Beauty Journal was going to be honest and authentic, so had to be the pictures. I knew what and how I wanted to write, and this haven’t changed since I started. I also knew that the pictures would be a reflection of the content.

I’d carefully crease my bed cover so the product would look like it’d been placed there in an effortless way and it would look similar to the pictures I’d been seeing online, getting way more likes than mine.

So I told myself, “If my bronzer looks grubby, who cares, it’s real life. If there’s a stain on the side of my lipstick, who cares, it’s real life. If my shirt’s not ironed and there’s a socket plug behind me on that selfie, who cares, it’s real life.” But after only a few weeks of blogging, I felt like I had to up my game and take better pictures. I’ve had a personal account on Instagram for years now, and I’ve always loved shots that look real. Not too edited, spontaneous, raw. Just to be clear, I’m not criticizing people putting out amazingly shot and perfectly edited pictures. I understand it, it takes skills, passion and work, you do you! It’s just not my jam, it’s not the type of content I want to make or see on a day to day basis. Truth of the matter is, when I created @lebeautyjournal’s Instagram account, I sort of lost myself. Quite quickly. I soon decided to only post pictures that I’d taken with my reflex camera. I’d been seeing so many gorgeous, perfect pictures of beauty products, I started to worry mine weren’t professional enough.

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I thought I should use props like candles and vases and flowers and coffee mugs to make the overall shot look more beautiful. I went to a stationary shop and bought big sheets of paper, in pink, blue, red and black to have a neat, clean, background. I’d carefully crease my bed cover so the product would look like it’d been placed there in an effortless way and it would look similar to the pictures I’d been seeing online, getting way more likes than mine. When a friend got me flowers I thought, “Perfect, I’m going to use it for Sunday’s blog post”. I think I just wanted to fit in and be part of the game. But what game?

And I started to notice a pattern of actions that seem to work for some of these accounts. Comment (genuine please), like (same here but if you do it a lot, it’s better), host giveaways, tag and master social media interaction. I wanted in so I started to do the same.

I discovered when I launched my Instagram account that there are a LOT of beauty content related instagram account. I knew it had been a super trendy topic for years, and that the Beauty Industry was booming. In fact, that’s how my love for beauty became real: thanks to Youtube and Instagram, there was suddenly a new world to discover. Naturally, I’ve been following the biggest “influencers” for years and years. What I did not know is that there are thousands of people with small-ish beauty accounts on Instagram all trying to be creative and seen. I felt stupid to have thought that maybe I’d get people interested in my content. And I started to notice a pattern of actions that seem to work for some of these accounts. Comment (genuine please), like (same here but if you do it a lot, it’s better), host giveaways, tag and master social media interaction. I wanted in so I started to do the same.

I follow around 300 people on my personal account and almost 600 on my blog account. The difference between the two is that my blog’s account became a place where I’d follow beauty content creator to compare myself and keep up to date with beauty content out there, and basically try and get up there with all of them. I would like a picture to get a like in return. I’d post everyday because, well, you have to. I tried to comment on tons of pictures to get noticed. That’s how I started to loose myself.

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Dirty Lipsticks
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Though before launching the blog, I had a pretty strong idea of what I would and would not do. I decided to launch my blog because I wanted to write in english about beauty because I’ve been SO into it for years, and not a lot of people around me care about this topic. I called it Le Beauty Journal because I’m french and I write in english. I thought the name was quite fitting because I knew I’d eventually start talking about style, books,  films, podcasts, all the things that make life more beautiful. That was it. And it’s been lovely.

To fix that, I questioned myself and decided I should at least try to play the social media game.

Some of you readers are from Russia, Australia, England, France, the USA… it amazes me! But for you to see what I write, I have to exist on social media platforms otherwise my blog is like a dusty book sitting on a shelf that nobody even knows about. What’s ironic is that I knew all of that before I started blogging, because it’s been like this for years, and my favorite Content Creators online who are all pretty honest and real, share their struggle regarding this shift in digital content. Also, I used to work as a journalist, and a Marketing and Community Manager, so I was fully aware of the problematic.

That’s why I thought, I’ll keep my goal in mind, stay #prettyreal, and it’ll be fun and maybe a bit different and voilà! I decided I would grow my audience organically. No robots, just work and consistence, just me trying to do my thing. I did stick to that. The thing is, the space is so saturated that when you start, you might be putting out stuff that’s a bit different or doing the same stuff everyone’s doing, you’re pretty much invisible. To fix that, I questioned myself and decided I should at least try to play the social media game. At first I liked it because I could see more likes and comment and consequently, my goal here, more readers on the blog. BUT, I’d loose the followers the next day, get crappy, fake comments below my pictures, get 50 likes from the same person so I would notice her/him and follow back. Here’s the thing: I like pictures on my feed all the time to support the content I enjoy and actually see it since the algorithm has changed, but I rarely comment. That’s just me, I don’t feel the need to comment, if I do I really have to have something to say. But I started to try to comment more and it was so dull. I never knew what to say, I was forcing myself. I’d also get likes on WordPress from people who would simply like ALL the articles in one go. I’d type in a hashtag in WordPress and Instagram and check out posts and articles with themes I’d be interested in, but after a few pictures and articles, it’d just get boring to try and find content that you relate to just so you can leave a comment in the hope that someone’s going to see it and click on your name and read your blog.

Isn’t it depressing? At the time I thought, “in all honesty, if that’s what it takes to grow an audience as a blogger on Social Media, I hate it.

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No one asked me to play the game this way of course. This weekend, I was at my mum’s house and my little brother told me my blog pictures were looking nicer and nicer. I said “aw thanks“, and thought “is it really what I want though? Shouldn’t my focus be elsewhere?“.

Do I want to create content that ultimately sets unachievable standards? Am I willing to, literally, fake it till I make it?

Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling like I’ve been posting pictures just for the sake it. Just to get more likes, views, comments, clicks. I still want all those things because ultimately, my goal is for the blog to find its audience BUT do I want to participate in creating content that’s polished and quite far away from reality? Do I want to create content that ultimately sets unachievable standards? Am I willing to, literally, fake it till I make it? There’s nothing new here. Everyone knows. But when you experience it, you still find it tough I think. That’s why I think I have my answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why people do it. I did it myself. I’ve tried, I’ve seen what it does to me (makes me feel miserable), and I’m hoping I can find a solution that will make me a happy, true to myself, honest blogger that’s all. I will still use hashtags because it does help me to find new inspiration when I’m scrolling through Instagram, so maybe someone feeling a bit confused by all of that might find some kind of authenticity on my account and blog. I’ll still post pictures that I find beautiful because I’ve always loved taking pictures but I will not obsess over “non-instagramable” details and I’ll shot things the way I want to, I will still try and find topics that are interesting for you and for me. I’ll try my best.

On that note, I strongly recommend you follow Sali Hughes, Caroline Hirons, Ruth Crilly, Joanna SpicerLeandra MedineThe Anna Edit, Lily Pebbles, and there are so many others out there putting out content I truly enjoy and am inspired by. I hope this piece makes sense. It’s spontaneous and not edited, ha! Let me know your thoughts on that, I’d be interested to hear more about what you think!

Have a lovely day,

Elsa

Thoughts on highlighters

This morning as I was finishing my makeup I noticed something was missing. Something that I wasn’t even aware of a few years ago. Something that I now think about as the finishing touch that I would not miss, really. Highlighter.

So many questions popped in my head when I realized that. Why ? Since when ? Why ? Did I mention why ?

Yet, I want more glow.

I’ve always been a huge fan of cream blushers, and let me tell you, they give a good amount of glow. But at the time of discovering cream blush, I was not even that into the whole glow thing. I just found it easy to apply, I liked the finish, there was no real intention apart from trying to find makeup that would make me look better, and most importantly, creating a “natural” makeup look. I still use cream blush, though I also love powder ones, and ok, I’m getting older, but my skin’s not dry, or especially lifeless you know. Yet, I want more glow.

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Of course endlessly scrolling through Instagram and Youtube seem to have created a need. I guess also, that natural makeup look means fresh healthy looking skin. So yeah, I now use highlighter almost everyday. I don’t put it on the tip of my nose like I’ve seen so many people do on Instagram, because why the hell would I want to to that!

But I do apply it on the bridge of my nose, on the cheekbone, and on the brow bone. The one I use is Glossier Haloscope in Quartz which is the perfect subtle item to add a touch of shine, without glitters which I highly appreciate. It’s in a very handy stick and a little goes a long way. I even sometimes apply it on eyelids when I’m feeling extra fancy. Though again, dewy eyelids ? Why ? I don’t know but I love it.

Do you use highlighters ? Which ones ? I might want to add a few items to my super small collection…