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‘Expectations vs reality’ of a content creator and student

You know those memes depicting expectations vs reality; whether it concerns buying something online, hair, vacations, trying a trick, the holiday season, life. That sums up what it is like to work as a content creator while being a full-time student.

Content creation can fall under anything, really. You are creating content and hopefully doing a job. It is portrayed as easy; there is decent money, brand collaborations, and fun experiences, and it can be, but it’s a competitive industry and a brutal one. It isn’t all glam, and it isn’t all social media influencers; it’s hard work, sleepless nights, and a lack of motivation to do anything creative.

Life of a hustler

As a content creator, I model, stream video games, make YouTube videos, edit websites, post on social media channels and am a photographer. People will assume that I have a big following and make heaps of money because that is what we are led to believe. In reality, it is so not true; you have one significant blow-up, YouTube revenue is poor, Twitch takes half of your earnings, paid model gigs are rarely a hit and require a lot of free work and photography; well, no one wants to pay you because they can just do it themselves.

It is a struggle making it as a full-time content creator as you have to spend money to make money. While it would be fantastic to just drop everything and focus on it, you can’t do that now. How will you pay the bills if the career you want isn’t bringing in enough money for that? The reality is, you not only have to work a job you may not want, to fund that career, but as a full-time student, you must put it on the back burner sometimes as it does get overwhelming. It feels like it’s not worth doing.

Busy in the background

To add to the stress of creating content while studying, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram glamorise student life. With aesthetic and minimal study space, cute items, up-to-date technology, these creators make studying look easy and pleasant. BUT IT’S NOT. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t my life as a student. I went from school straight to uni, finished my bachelors, and last years of my Masters. I don’t know if I missed something, but my life as a student or in general has never been glamorous. Instead, it is

  • Juggling a 9-5,

  • Trying to stay active

  • Side hustles

  • Making sure I don’t miss those daytime zoom lectures

  • Trying to remember to eat

  • Living on coffee

  • Procrastinating

  • Mess everywhere

  • Living in my PJs

  • Getting out of bed

  • Wondering what week I am in

  • Questioning when I should start the assignment

  • Remembering I have an assignment due in a week

  • Last-minute realisation I have an event on the day before

  • No time to do any side hustles

  • Money struggles

  • Stress breakouts

  • Do I have time for sleep?

The list goes on.

Reality check

When it comes to this “expectations vs reality”, we need to ask ourselves some questions because we can fall into this unhealthy trap when we try to become that “expectation” and really hurt ourselves long term.

So how do we deal with this gap? How can we manage that stress we create when reality doesn’t match up? How do we get rid of these expectations? What happens when these expectations are not met?

Personally, I feel like these questions are to have their own article as they hold a lot of weight. Expectations don’t just come out of nowhere. They are put onto us from a very young age, and we subconsciously carry them our whole life.

But before we dive into that topic, I would suggest taking a moment to breathe and re-evaluate. As students, we have a lot on our plate already, and working towards our dream goal is a heavy task we must push through. But I would also suggest taking it one step at a time. Loading your plate with too much that you either force yourself to take in or you just can is a lot to handle, and with what is going on in the world, our mental health cannot carry all of that. So, before you let “expectations” affect your reality, get a piece of paper, write your goals down and take it one step at a time. Don’t compare your moments to what you see on the internet, as they often filter and capture “the best moments”.

Learning to manage

To bring this to an end, if you feel like you are getting overwhelmed or confused, I get it, I think we all get it. It is a lot to take in, but there are ways around it. What works for me is scheduling everything that I have on, in a diary (by the hour), on a calendar, sticky notes. Wherever it works for you, but writing everything you have on, work, uni, events, gym, absolutely anything. Having it in front of you will allow you to space everything out and set timeframes for yourself, keeping yourself accountable and on top of what you want to do and need to get done.

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