Mental wellbeing for young people

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Identity and Social Media

Joel Harris photo Joel Harris · 10 Nov, 2020

Joel looks back on how success on social media took over his identity and how he's learned to put his roots back in something deeper.

Hello Headstrong UK, how are you doing? My name is Joel Harris. It's good to be talking to you. It's good to be here today. I want to chat about my journey, my kind of battle with social media and that kind of area.

If you're teenagers 99.9% likely you got social media, you know what Instagram is, you know what Tik Tok is, and YouTube. And if you watched my last vlog you would have known that I was bullied in primary school. So all through primary school I was bullied and that led me be in high school not being myself, me having a different character. Me being very shy, very scared, very timid.

So here I was 14, 15, not enjoying school, not enjoying my self worth being low. My identity being low because I'm being this different person, at school. So I was wanting to be accepted. I was wanting to be loved. I was wanting to be known, I was wanting to be valued.

So I started YouTube and started doing YouTube when I was 13, 14. And by the age of 15 to 16, I was travelling around the country doing meet and greets, meeting fans, doing gigs, doing tours, all of this stuff. So it worked. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be accepted at the age of 14 and then a year and a half later, suddenly I have people screaming my name and I was loved. I was accepted. I was known. People wanted to know about me. People wanted to spend time with me. People wanted a photo with me and I was so happy. I was on top of the world. Like I am it. I've made it. I really hadn't. This is amazing. People love me. People accept me.

I started to place my identity on this fact that I was a social media influencer. I started knowing, I started getting really cocky. Like I started getting really 'look at me!' because I felt loved. I felt accepted. I felt like I belonged. I felt like everyone wanted to be with me, wanted to be friends with me. And that was amazing.

But then the day came where I didn't get all those followers. I didn't get all those likes. I got less followers. I go less likes. And suddenly I'm not happy . Suddenly I'm in this dark place where my identity's crumbled. My self-worth has plummeted. I am emotionless. I'm not happy. I don't feel anything. I'm not motivated. Suddenly, when those likes didn't come, when those followers didn't come, I was crushed. And my mental health suffered and it was hard. It was really hard.

And at that lowest point where my social media plummeted and I felt worthless, Jesus built in me a new identity. He built me back up, better, but he didn't build my identity on Likes and followers. He built on what he says about me. On who I am, how God loves me, how God cares and how I have got a purpose. I got built back up in my identity. Not on my likes, not my followers, but on Jesus. And what Jesus said about me.

Now, here I am today, doing social media a bit, but my identity is great. I am secure because I've placed my self-worth, I've placed my value not in likes or followers that can change every day, but I place my self-worth and I place my self value in Jesus. And in what he says about me, and he doesn't change. And because he doesn't change, my security won't change because I've placed it on something that is firm. I've placed it on something that is sustainable.

So if you're here today. And you realise your identity, isn't in God. Your identity is something which could change everyday, It could be social media. It could be likes, it could be friends. It could be gossip. It could be your fashion. My one tip for you today is read the Bible. Spend time with God, and figure out what he says about you. I'm asking you to start building up your identity, but in him, in God and not in that likes, social media, fashion, all that stuff. Pray to God, read the Bible, get to know the Father, and get to know how much he loves you. And through that journey, your identity will be switched from you placing it on these things which aren't sustainable to placing them on God who is sustainable. Thank you so much. Hope this has helped. I'll chat to you soon. God bless.


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