As part of the #beYourself campaign we have highlighted importance of being yourself and expressing who you are . Talking and sharing thoughts can be a huge source of strength and support, it can be a helpful mechanism to find who you are and can have a positive impact on your personal mental health. Paul Broughall discusses his experience of finding his confidence through art and social media.
I think it was around the beginning of Secondary school when I reverted back into myself. I was the most shy person. I was full of social anxieties. I’m guessing it was the fact I was gay. I was never really bullied about it, just the odd name call which were just immature comments, not even meant so maliciously but it felt like I was this giant light standing out for everyone to see all of a sudden and comment on. It has never happened in primary school. So I guess I just decided to try change, lay low and dim the light as it were.
This stuck with me through all of my teens and early 20s. I’d forgotten how to be me. I could still laugh and have fun with friends but I’d forgotten that child inside me who spoke to everyone. My social anxieties were so bad that the most normal of encounters like purchasing something over the counter was an experience I dreaded incase there would be small talk.
Then I became an artist after spending much of my 20s not really knowing who I was or where I wanted to be. I started posting my work online and it grew a following. It was paintings of people as chickens with yellow skin and beaks for mouths and the picture was on a tiny easel posed with some yellow decorative Easter chicks and some tiny paints and a paintbrush. It was quirky and new and people took an interest in it and me. I was invited to exhibit at events and met people there and I painted some social media influencers and they gave me shoutouts on snapchat and this is where I learned to be me again.
I had just began talking to my story as a kind of mini daily vlog and after the shoutouts I began gaining loads of followers. I was just being myself, posting my art, talking about stuff I was doing that day, telling stories, embarrassing things that happened to me, joining the subject of the day on snapchat that everyone was focusing on. I could never see people, just the views so it never really felt like people were watching. It wasn’t daunting to talk to strangers in that way.
Complete strangers messaged me to say they loved my stories and they loved my wit how I was just myself and trying not to be someone else and I was floored. I kept getting more shoutouts because of this. And it gave me confidence to be myself more as I was doing but without that certain amount of anxiety thinking “maybe I shouldn’t have posted that, I might seem stupid or unfunny or weird” but eventually I grew to know that I was just being me and people liked it.
Now when I meet new people, I can completely talk to them without crumpling to the floor in fear (I didn’t REALLY do that) and it’s all because of my art and snapchat. From talking to people at events and mostly connecting with people through snapchat. Putting myself out there. Fighting the fear. I can’t recommend using snapchat enough as an outlet for being yourself and also getting creative and not being afraid to express yourself in whatever way you feel. It’s easy to be yourself when you remember that nobody really cares as much about what you do as you think. We all have our own things to deal with.