If you watch my TikTok (which you should... @victoria_staff) you may have seen that I am taking a break from dating. This all was sparked by a desire to delete my dating apps. In all honesty, deleting the dating apps was less about the men and more about me.
I love myself, I think I’m really funny and smart and I make fantastic food. I’m a damn treat. But I also know a lot of that is “self-love” rhetoric and in reality there is nothing about me that makes me better than anyone else. I think I’m amazing, but I also want to paint myself with an accurate brush. If we expand that honest opinion about myself, we’re going to talk about how I look.
I think I am a decent looking person. I would never make a child cry and scream “OGRE” in the street, but I don’t think I’ll ever be in a Calvin Klein ad (or any ad for that matter). I think there are days where I look pretty and days where I definitely do not. My mom once told me (in a very endearing way), “It’s amazing how you can be so cute but make yourself look so…not cute”. To be fair, I was eating Nutella on the floor of my kitchen in ripped sweatpants and one French braid instead of two (my arms got tired before the second one, so I was eating the Nutella to refuel).
However, I would never describe myself as ugly.
First and foremost, I don’t think anyone should describe themselves as ugly. It’s a gross word that should be reserved for cartoon witches and gargoyles. It’s unkind to call yourself ugly, and you should always be kind to yourself. Secondly, I don’t think anyone is truly ugly. I’ve never come across a person in my life and thought “wow, that person is really ugly”.
The craziest part is that I was dating quite successfully. I was having great conversations, I was getting those sweet, sweet words of affirmation (my love language people get this), and I was going on dates. But all of this validation wasn’t enough to compete with the odd conversation that dropped or the person I didn’t match with.
In the spring, I had downloaded the trilogy from hell to get me out of my apartment and back into the game, and I was very successful in achieving my goal. But this healthy exercise of meeting new people and dating became kind of obsessive. I was able to settle down a bit in the fall, but those fucking notifications kept reminding me that a) I was still on the market when I didn’t want to be and b) that I was being judged on my looks and not everyone was happy with what they were seeing.
AND IT WAS SO HYPOCRITICAL. Sorry, I shouldn’t yell. It was so hypocritical because I was doing it too. I was engaging in swiping like the biggest bullshit game of Candy Crush to ever exist. It’s not that I regret having those apps; I don’t regret it at all. I met some incredible people, got some great stories, and wrote some killer songs. The experiences via the apps? Pretty good. The apps themselves? I’m pretty sure Satan birthed those out his asshole. So, in November I deleted them. I did not want to bring this negative energy into my 23rd birthday so I scrapped the battery draining dumpster fire and celebrated the holidays in peace.
However. I’m 23. I’m single. And a girl’s got to eat.
I like dating and I like talking to people, and if you read some of my content from the fall, I’m looking for a “Right Now Person”.
But these apps. The unholy trinity. It’s like someone poured a frat boy and a computer algorithm into cauldron and mixed it with bright primary colours and advertised it to people in their 20’s (I swear to Jesus, if I get one more TikTok ad for Bumble or Hinge I’m going to fly to China to have a word with Bytedance). I want to get back out there, I want to put a hiatus to my dating hiatus and I kind of want to redownload the apps, just in a healthy, more productive manner.
I don’t think that they should be someone’s only method of dating, but they’re helpful, a useful tool in your back pocket. It’s hard to meet people during a pandemonium and I want to give myself every leg up should I decide to venture down this road. But I don’t want to go back to feeling unattractive.
I don’t know, maybe there’s no winning. Maybe I just reintroduce that chaos into my life for a couple months just to delete the whole lot in August and start the cycle again. Maybe I’ll actually have a healthy relationship with technology. Maybe this time it will be super fun and I’ll meet my Right Now Person (probably not this one). Maybe I’ll enter my villain phase.
No matter what happens, I’ll probably keep you all up to date here or on TikTok or on Instagram. So, keep your eyes and ears open, because it will either be a wild success, or this is the year I decide to become a nun. Who knows.
From me, with love, to you,
A couple months ago I called my friend from university. She had recently scored a new brand deal and I was feeling down on my luck. Her platform felt bigger than mine, her TikTok’s were performing better, and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of inadequacy. We talked on the phone for a couple minutes before she revealed to me that she felt like she didn’t know what she was doing. Social media was fast and changing everyday. Trends were created as quickly as they ended. Some of her content flopped and some took off, and she couldn’t find a pattern.
And I laughed.
Not at her, that would be rude. I have my character flaws but I’m not a bitch. I laughed because I had been working in social media for four years, and I got conned by the oldest trick in the book: Fake it ‘til you make it. And it truly is faking it. It’s not “trying your hardest” or “putting in the effort”, it’s all about lies and facades and masquerades. Even though I work in the field, I got tricked by someone I know. I forgot the cardinal rule of the internet: Everything you see is a lie.
And I am the same.
This is not to say that it isn’t based in reality. My name is Victoria, I am from Toronto, I have a myriad of mental illnesses, and I am a musician. The framework that you see and the stories that I tell are true. But I have painted all the details of my life from one point of view. I have spun a web and shown you only my side of the story. I have timed my relay of information for my benefit and that is because you are living in my fantasy. You are witnessing my life in the way I choose to play it out in front of you.
I edit my photos so the sky looks bluer and the lighting looks flawless. I tell you I’m spending my rainy day at a coffee shop in downtown Toronto, when in reality I was there three days ago. Currently, I’m sitting hair awry, trying to understand the intricacies of Google Analytics for work. Everything I’m telling you is a lie.
I tell you about my mental illnesses, but you don’t get to know all the details. All the dirty secrets and the diagnoses. You don’t get to watch the panic attacks and hear the thoughts that rattle around in my head. You don’t get to watch the self-destructive behaviour or get invites to the pity party because those are my secrets, and you only get to see slightly behind the curtain because that is all I want you to see.
You hear my songs, but you don’t get to see all the dates and the quiet moments. You don’t get to hear all the salacious details I share over cocktails with my friends as we play out a Sex in the City knockoff. You don’t get to watch me smile and laugh over texts and bad jokes and you don’t get to watch me cry when it ends. Because I don’t want you to see all that, I just want you to see the shiny, funny, and public moments.
And maybe this wrecks the magic for you. Maybe it’s like a child learning Santa Claus isn’t real, but I think in your heart of hearts you knew this. You knew that social media was one large con created by Mark Zuckerberg and his lizard-people-friends. You knew that for every good photo I take there were 200 of me looking weird and stupid. You knew all these things, but you let yourself believe that it was all true. You forgot that everything I’m telling you is a lie.
You knew all these things, but you let yourself believe that is was all true. You forgot that everything I'm telling you is a lie.
If you find yourself screaming at me or the sky or some other individual, thinking “why, why have you done this?” the answer you’re looking for is not simple. First and foremost, it’s the market. People want to seem flawed but not too flawed. They want to know you’re relatable and a human, but they don’t want to know all the dirty details. They don’t want to see messy or unkept. They only want to colour slightly outside the lines. I’m simply meeting the demands of a market. All in all, social media is a business and I’m the product.
Secondly, to maintain some sanity. If I create this divide between my real life and the life you see online, then I can’t get caught up in the part that might destroy my self-esteem. If the person you saw on your Instagram was truly me, then I could get personally offended by hateful comments or messages. I could be scared when men say the terrible things in my dm’s. But the separation of church and state provides a buffer between my well-being and my work.
Finally, it’s because frankly, it’s my life. My life is truly in technicolour. It is full of laughs and people I love and adventure. And I get to choose what gets shared. Yes, I take lots of photos and share lots of moments. But there are private moments that are mine. There are moments I keep memorialised, the stain-glass windows to the church that is my brain. I think sometimes there are moments that don’t need to be shared.
So yes, I’ve been lying to you. I’ve been showing you a single side of reality, which the truth is that my life is a 20-sided die. I’m telling you this because it means the next time you’re scrolling through Instagram or TikTok you might remember: Everything everyone is telling you is a lie. But then again why would you believe me? I’m a liar.
From me, with love, to you,
I believe we’re past the point of lying to each other, so let’s be honest. I had a really shitty day today. I felt ugly and stupid and anxious. I felt like I was bad at my job and a bad friend and a bad musician. I felt like no part of my life was a place to land. I was overtired, which made me nauseous and gave me a headache, and nothing was really working for me.
I tried working out, listening to loud music, talking to friends, just hunkering down and getting through the day, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of mediocrity. But it was more than that, the feeling that I was subpar. And those days are awful, the days where everything feels bad but you can’t attach the feeling to anything in particular. There is no problem to solve, no answer to find, nothing. You just feel awful.
On days like today, I find myself really caught up in my mental health recovery. I start thinking that I’m not as far along as I want to be or should be. I start second guessing myself, and I start to use the phrase “what if”, which is an anxious person’s least favourite phrase.
So, in the name of being honest, this post is not for you. It’s for me. It has been written entirely to make myself feel better.
I've always been anxious. It's just kind of written into my brain
I have always been anxious. It’s just kind of written into my brain. For me, like many people, anxiety presents itself as catastrophes. The worst possibility to every situation – no matter how unlikely. Every person hates me, every exam I will fail, every song I write is awful, and I am ultimately stuck in a state of paralysis as my brain tries to figure out a safe route.
And when everything is scary, sometimes you just stop doing things. There are things you cut out of your life altogether out of fear. Things you write off as “Impossible”. Throughout my recovery, I have slowly been able to incorporate those things back into my life. Not all of them successfully – there are still panic attacks and breakdowns because I am far, far from perfect. But I have begun to move things off my “Impossible List”.
So, in an attempt to show myself I am not a massive failure, let’s take a look at what’s been scratched off my “Impossible List”:
And I understand it seems silly to some of you. It seems ridiculous to me that at one point in my life I was unable to take cabs. I was unable to drive on the highway. I was unable to go to class (as a university student I might add). So yes, today sucked, but I’ve had worse days. I’ve had days of complete panic and paralysis and fear, and this was not one of those days. Despite what my brain has decided to latch onto today, I am getting better. I am recovering. And there is not nearly as much on my “Impossible List”.
From me, with love, to you,
I am a damn treat.
Have you heard me say this recently? It has become a bit of a catch-phrase of mine and I drove my entire family insane over Thanksgiving weekend as most of my speech was littered with this phrase. And although it started from a place of sarcasm, it kind of became non-sarcastic (unsarcastic? dis-sarcastic?) with time. I AM a damn treat. However, don't worry, this isn't going to be about me going on this rant about how amazing I am. We're going to dive a little bit further down this rabbit hole or why I started including this is my day to day vernacular - and why you should as well.
I spent a lot of my life thinking that I was less-than. As a teenager, I sought validation from people around me; I thought that to love myself, I needed others to love me. It was exhausting, I oozed desperation and self-loathing. I aspired for better in the most self-destructive ways and created insecure relationships with people willing to abuse the fragile state I was in. Not to mention this perpetuated my anxiety beyond belief. "Hot mess" doesn't nearly describe the way I was living. I had people who loved me, but they felt like exceptions to the rule, I felt like I didn't deserve them.
And then to top it all off, I got into a relationship. I dated this guy who was wonderful but I shifted all my self-worth into the foundation of this relationship. I was enough because I was loved by someone, because someone else saw me as enough. But what happened when that relationship ended? I was shattered; nobody loved me anymore and therefore I was unlovable. I had placed all my value in something that no longer existed. I spent the next three months literally flinging myself anywhere, on anyone, trying to patch up the hole in my life where my relationship should have been.
Now this next idea is credited to Daniel Schloss (go watch his comedy special "Jigsaw", 10/10). I loved myself at a whopping 10%, so anyone who cared about me at 20% loved me TWICE AS MUCH as I loved myself. TWICE. It felt like the sun and the moon, until you actually think about all the things you like 20%. Here are the things in my life that I like 20%
I would love to tell you that I had this "light bulb" moment. This sudden realization that I was better, but I didn't. I would love to tell you the key to self-love is spinning around three times and jumping up and down on one leg and then TADA! Self-love! But it happened. Slowly. With time, I realized that I was caught in this loop. I was anxious because I needed others to love me and because I was so stressed about what other people thought, nobody wanted to be around me. The things that made me great were overshadowed by the things I hated about myself. This dependency on others also allowed me to shift blame in my life. Nothing was my fault because I was nothing, I was only what other people made me, so my faults were their faults. All good things were just a lucky shot and all bad things were someone else's problems.
But like I said, with time I shifted my values. I started taking credit for my actions, both good and bad. Being responsible for the things you do means that you are the sum total of your decisions. (See my last post). Taking responsibility for the good things was easy. Taking responsibility for the bad things was hard.
A prime example is grades. If I did poorly on a test then I had to think, how hard did I actually study. Did I give it my all or some half-ass attempt? Because if I gave it my all, if I could confidently say that, then there is nothing else I could do and I had to be proud of myself for the mark I got. But if I didn't use all my resources, TAs, office hours, extra help, then the shitty grade was on me. It was my responsibility. Frankly, I'm still learning to do this. I'm still learning to take responsibility for the bad things, because it isn't easy. But I'm learning and that's what matters.
And once you are the sum total of your actions, you are something. You have tangible evidence of the things that you are. You are the job that you got because you interviewed well and you put the hours in. You are a friend because you treat those around you with respect. You are, you are, you are. And I began to realise, I am a lot of things. I am a baker, a singer, a sister, a friend, a student, a writer, a philanthropist. I am all these things because I went out and I made them true, and nobody in this world can take those things away from me, because they're mine.
You don't need to love yourself 100%. Loving yourself 100% at times can be bad as well, it can stop you from changing and growing and being better than you are. Right now I love myself at about 80%, which isn't ideal but I'm getting better. I still have things I want to work on, but I'm on the right trajectory and most importantly, I'm proud to be who I am. There are still days I look in the mirror and I'm unsure, but 80% is a hell of a lot better than 10%. And for someone to be my sun and moon they need to love me at at least 80%. And to put that in perspective, my list of things I love at 80% are:
So I am a damn treat because I made myself that way. I took an 18-year-old girl with chronic panic attacks and a self worth lower than the pits of hell and made her into a young women who is about to graduate university (should all go as planned). And yes, the world will throw things at me that are out of my control. I cannot control the weather or time or the actions of those around me, but I can control me and that is enough. I am enough. And I am a damn treat.
From me, with love, to you,