Recognising your creative talent is not always easy but putting it to work is even harder. There is a certain level of courage and confidence that a person must have in order to openly express their creative talents. She used to be one of those people who initially hid their creativity but she soon grew to publish and promote her work. This is the story of Selena Marie, a writer who owns a blog discussing her personal life experiences.
Selena started her creative journey in January 2021 so she is fairly new to the creative scene. Prior to starting out, she would write journals and share them with a friend but this year she reckoned that she would share them with a wider audience in an effort to encourage others. Hence she decided to start writing blogs online. Her blog posts consist of her own personal experiences and they tend to end on a positive note to foster an inspirational tone.
“If I can do it so can you” – a quote that Selena uses to describe the nature of her blog posts.
After graduating from a degree in sports science, Selena is now in the beginning phase of her role as a personal trainer which she describes as a current side hustle. She deems her degree to have been somewhat creative given that she now creates her own training plans for her clients. Selena also gets very creative with regards to training equipment. What about future plans? Selena plans to return to university to study further in her field.
The biggest challenge that she faces is coming to terms with what to write next. Whilst she has a plethora of stories to tell, she also feels quite restricted as she is cautious of putting too much out there. As of right now there is a situation that Selena is currently going through which she remains optimistic about:
“I am just waiting for that happy ending so that I can share my story and make sure for a fact that it finishes off on a positive note”
With regards to the UK creative scene, Selena believes that creatives often deserve more recognition than what they are given. She reckons that social media has aided creatives in raising awareness on their content.
“My biggest achievement already has been inspiring more people to get closer to God and figure out their purpose in life.”
Lastly, what advice would Selena give to aspiring creatives? She advises upcoming creatives to “get yourself out there by displaying your talents as they were given to you for a reason.” Whilst she loves to write she never actually published anything until this year. Even her family members could not recognise her writing ability given that she had tried effortlessly to hide it. Her last words are as follows – “Put yourself out there, you don’t know what opportunities or what doors will be opened for you if you don’t take it.”
For the past month Space2Uplift has merely focused on UK creatives, but this month we have decided to branch out and open up an international section of our online magazine. What a better way than to start it off with an individual whose hard work and dedication is very relevant to the current situation at hand with regards to studying and motivation. This is the story of Kaotharat Balogun, a 3rd year medical student based in Ireland who has reached over 100,000 followers on TikTok through starting a daily 8 hour study livestream.
Since starting university, Kaotharat has always enjoyed the feeling of being able to study in a group setting. Seeing others studying motivates her and stimulates her focus. At times when she is not in university she tends to join group video chats with her studymates to motivate each other, particularly on the days prior to a huge exam. However the outbreak of the global pandemic changed everything for her. Firstly she was unable to meet with other students in university libraries and their video chat calls slowly reduced given that they all had differing timetables.
“I saw my work ethic decrease drastically and I wanted to change that. I saw online that a lot of people would record themselves whilst studying to prevent themselves from going on their phone. I decided to try it out one day and it really helped.” – Kaotharat
Initially Kaotharat’s audience consisted of majority medical students as she would only post medical school content back then. Hence whilst doing a random live stream she mentioned the idea of a study live stream. One of her followers further advised her to start a study live stream to help them focus as well. This marked the start of her well-known “8 hour study live sessions” which commenced during mid-December 2020 as her exams started to approach.
If you are someone who knows about Kaotharat’s study lives then you will be aware of her constant perseverance throughout the course of the 8 hours. Most of her followers are curious as to how she stays motivated to study for such a long period of time. This is a common question that she gets during her live streams. Kaotharat describes her study stamina as a phenomenon that she has been building for quite some time, it stems from her goal of becoming a doctor. Interestingly, she deems that it is not her motivation that aids her study stamina rather her self-discipline. She quotes “discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments” – a quote that she stands by.
Kaotharat tends to get hundreds of viewers whilst filming a live stream, at times these numbers can reach up to 900. But does the digital presence of the audience during her study lives really serve as a source of motivation? For her it definitely does:
“There are days where I don’t want to get out of my bed or study but I know I have people counting on me daily to broadcast my live stream so they can get their work done too. Having that responsibility gives me the motivation to work hard so my viewers can achieve their goals. It is a win-win.”
Space2Uplift constantly strives to uplift creatives by recognising their various achievements. What has Kaotharat’s biggest achievement been so far since starting her study lives? Among many she has gained over 80,000 followers in a matter of 3 weeks, her current following stands at over 100,000. Further, she recently started a discord server which accumulated 1400 students in the space of 2 days and continues to be on the rise. However the principle achievement for her is “helping my viewers grades improve drastically and helping them see the beauty and joy in studying. I get so many DMs daily of people informing me of how they went up by 2 grades since they started watching my study lives and that honestly fills my heart with joy.”
As much as her success has come with positive experiences, success also comes with many negatives. For Kaotharat that has been dealing with hate on tiktok. Due to the nature of the app, it enables anyone to join her lives and for some users her livestream may appear on their “for you page” – a suggested feed. On various occasions she has been subjected to hateful comments from tiktok users. I was intrigued to find out her views on the hate she has received and how she deals with it:
“Yes, unfortunately since I stream for so long, it is inevitable that my stream starts to pop up on people’s for you page that are not particularly interested in seeing people study. This led to hate and sometimes racist comments on the live stream chat. I am quite a sensitive person, so it took awhile for me to learn to ignore the hate and just move on from it. I realised the amount of people I am helping outweighs the hate/trolls.”
Given the current pandemic and its effect on education many students have found it difficult to stay consistent and motivated amidst the uncertainty. But for Kaotharat the pandemic has not had such a huge impact on her degree as a 3rd year medical student apart from missing out on a few placements. Hence that way she believes that she can not necessarily afford to fall behind as the stress that that would entail is scary to her. The responsibility of having people depend on her to study everyday has aided her in accomplishing this.
As a role model for many students across the world many would believe that Kaotharat is always motivated and hardly deals with procrastination. When I asked her about this preconceived idea she replied:
“No, I am not motivated all the time. When I find myself lacking motivation, I just try to remember how privileged I am to be studying medicine in the first place. It is something that my younger self worked so hard to get into and I just don’t want to let her down. Younger me was studying religiously to get into medical school and she deserves her hard work to pay off. That is the one advice I would give to people lacking motivation, just remember why you are doing it in the first place!”
Her final and very important message is as follows – “One thing I would like to say is I know the pandemic can be extremely hard on student mental health and it is okay to take a step back from everything, pause and take care of yourself. Your mental health always comes first!”
Interested in following Kaotharat’s journey?
TikTok, Instagram and YouTube – medical_kat
Written by: Claudia, founder of Space2Uplift
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In 2015 upon receiving an offer to study dentistry at university, Yewande uploaded her first YouTube video, explaining her journey into dental school. She never intended to start YouTube fully, rather had the aim of helping aspiring dentistry students through her experience. Her channel soon escalated into a lifestyle, offering knowledge and advice concerning the field of dentistry and gaining popularity from aspiring students and the general public. This is the story of Yewande, a dentist who expresses her passion through her creative skills in graphic design and video editing.
It was not until after her first year of dental school that Yewande decided to continue posting videos offering tips and advice on dentistry. She describes her motive as “to inspire people who may have been in a difficult situation or who didn’t get in the first time.” Aware of the difficulty of applying to dental school, she wished to reassure people who were like her. She particularly emphasises the importance of sharing your failures and often receives messages of praise from students explaining how through the videos they decided to try again and not give up on their path to dental school.
Attending a Dental Elective in Ghana prompted Yewande to take video editing and her YouTube platform seriously. It was there that she built a passion for educating the public about oral hygiene after learning things that most everyday people were not aware of. She mentions an example of how one should not rinse their mouth out with water after brushing their teeth as the fluoride in the toothpaste is what helps strengthen the enamel.
So what exactly does Yewande’s channel revolve around? It consists of a combination of advice to dental students and oral health education. Why exactly did she start posting consistently? It was her desire to educate and empower an audience and to encourage the younger generation through her platform.
A career could in some cases be well thought out and something that you have dreamt of becoming your entire life. But in Yewande’s case, growing up in a single-parent home with no dentists in the family given that her mum worked as a hairdresser, her interest in dentistry was very much unexpected. Her first encounter with the field of dentistry was through research. Nevertheless, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career within the healthcare sector as she enjoyed studying science, particularly biology. She was interested in working with others, communicating and working in a hands on profession. Searching for work experience was a demoralising experience for Yewande. Receiving a countless number of ‘no”s’ for the very requirement needed on her personal statement was challenging. Despite this, her perseverance persisted and eventually, after about 30 to 40 emails she finally received an opportunity to do work experience at a dental practice that was a two-hour journey away from her home. It was this work experience that confirmed her decision to pursue dentistry.
In pursuing her career in dentistry, Yewande has often branched out through her use of creativity. As a creative person who enjoys making videos and posting content, she could showcase her creativity on the popular app Instagram. She taught herself skills in graphic design and film editing enabling her to offer knowledge and advice regarding dentistry through creativity.
Whilst university is an enriching experience, it tends to affect those who are simultaneously working in the creative industry. I was intrigued to find out whether her university experience at Plymouth had an impact on her output of creative content. She explained that she found it difficult to balance her studies with YouTube, hence she took a break. Her main goal was to prevent anything from getting in the way of her path to obtaining her degree. She experienced nightmares of her failing university so she decided to take a break from YouTube and focus on studying. But she made sure that she did other things outside of academia such as fitness and socialising with friends. She mentions the importance of not merely focusing on studying and rather maintaining a balanced lifestyle at university.
Being a creative in the UK is an experience in itself. I questioned Yewande as to whether or not she believes that UK creatives get the recognition that they deserve. She believes that UK creatives are getting more and more recognition due to the rise of social media. According to Yewande, “the world is starting to appreciate creative talent a lot more than in the past”. Although she still thinks that creatives are quite underappreciated in the UK, for instance, how if one were to tell their parents that they wanted to pursue a creative career, they may not be as supportive due to preconceived beliefs that the field lacks financial security and stability. Further, Yewande debunks the misconception that content creation is simple and expresses her appreciation of all UK creatives. Overall, she believes that UK creatives do not get the recognition they deserve but believes that it will improve as time proceeds.
I asked Yewande about advice she would give to an upcoming creative? She encourages creatives to master their craft and use every opportunity to learn and grow. She assures creatives that even if you are not getting enough recognition, that does not necessarily mean that your content is bad, it takes time to build an audience. The last words of Yewande are as follows – “Do not write yourself off too early and keep on pushing with your content. If I gave up after my first video I would not be where I am today. Believe in yourself and your craft and do not give up.” Quoting Nelson Mandela “In life you never lose you either win or learn” she continues – “Take every loss and failure as a lesson and keep on going. When the going gets tough you have to keep on pushing. To anybody reading this, you have your own individual aspect about you that people love and never take that for granted. Being you is your superpower and don’t try to emulate other people, be authentic to who you are because that is what will take you far.”
Starting out in the UK creative industry with minimal experience is not always the easiest of tasks. Her early blog stages, university experience and life post-graduation created the pathway to launching a digital content agency. This is the story of Paula Melissa, a digital content creator who recently launched her new business “Paula Melissa Co”.
In the summer of 2012 after deliberation Paula Melissa started her creative journey. Growing up Paula faced battles of insecurity and her ability to understand herself as a person. Launching a blog on WordPress gave her the opportunity to discuss aspects of her life, in which she refers to her writing as being “too transparent” at times. Her blog served as a space of expression where she had the freedom to voice her thoughts. In the words of Paula, her blog was an “outlet to the world”.
Between 2015 and 2019 Paula studied journalism at the University of Sheffield. There is a common belief that choosing to study a “non-traditional” degree or rather a course that offers limited job vacancies often poses a tough decision. But in Paula’s case she does not regret studying journalism as despite her not being a practising journalist, it granted her with the skills she needed to pursue a career in digital media. The course also immensely grew her confidence. In the words of Paula, “I started in 2015 as a nervous 18 year old and left in the summer of 2019 as a super confident woman.” Studying journalism revealed the value that she brought to the world through her various achievements and the individuals she met. This confirmed her belief that God had placed her exactly where she belonged. Paula perceives her personal growth to have been the most significant during the course of her time at university.
When asked whether studying journalism at Sheffield helped her pursue her career within digital media, Paula positively agreed. Although she already ran a blog and a YouTube channel prior to starting university, her platforms grew much more during her time at university. Her department offered access to high quality, new equipment and she learnt how to professionally film and edit. Further, obtaining a scholarship from the Royal Television Society during her degree meant that she was able to attend exclusive events, meet intriguing people and expand her knowledge of the media industry. Paula deems these opportunities to have “grown and prepared me for where I am today.”
One of Space2Uplift’s aims is to shed light on the stories of UK creatives and recognise talent within the UK creative industry. However this objective stemmed from the belief that UK creatives are not recognised enough. When discussing this topic Paula expressed that some UK creatives get the recognition they deserve but not all. Despite this, she does believe that most of the individuals that have been grinding for years are at the top of their game now, she mentions Patricia Bright who has been posting on YouTube for 10 years as an example. Also Paula speaks on how Munya Chawawa, who also attended the University of Sheffield had been creating comedy sketches online consistently for years, but in 2020 his platform exploded granting him the recognition and support he deserved. All in all, according to Paula not all creatives are getting enough recognition but those who have persevered the most are now getting more recognition within the industry.
As a creative, one often strives to achieve goals. Paula describes her award for runner-up as Young Blogger of the Year at the Premier Digital Awards 2019 as her greatest achievement so far within the creative industry. This experience is described by Paula as an “unexpected blessing”. Additionally, in 2020 reaching a milestone of 1000 subscribers on her YouTube channel is something that Paula is extremely proud of.
In late 2020 Paula launched her very own creative digital agency – “PaulaMelissaCo”. Working full-time and freelancing as a side hustle posed an inevitable hassle concerning taxes. Paula experienced yearly struggles of paying either too little or too much tax due to the uncertainty of her income from freelancing. Hence registering as self-employed seemed much simpler for Paula as it enabled her to clear her taxes a lot easier. Interestingly, a friend of Paula’s advised her to do “Paula Melissa – speaking, writing and content creating” full-time. Initially Paula was a bit anxious to do this given that she believed that she needed to establish herself fully first. However her friend prompted her to start the business. In the end Paula did it as she knew that the ultimate goal within her career is to work for herself full-time, her business launch was “a leap of faith”.
Creatives within the industry have differing paths and experiences, but it is always nice to hear advice from the very individuals who experience both the benefits and struggles of being a creative in the UK. Paula who started her creative journey quite early deems that if she had been consistent throughout the whole duration of her on-going experience she would have probably been more established today. For Paula consistency is key as it is crucial not to compare yourself to others and instead merely focus on your own path to success. While Paula does strongly believe in quality over quantity, she reminds creatives not to let the ‘perfectionist’ mindset stop them from creating. Leaving large gaps between creating slows down the momentum and exercising of all your creative muscles. It is important to find the happy medium between creating things you are proud of and are of quality and having a plan which means you are consistently creating! Paula prompts upcoming creatives to put their content out there despite the inner beliefs that can arise implying that it is not perfect.
She also mentions the importance of networking and making a variety of friends within the industry – those who are smaller, similar and bigger than yourself in terms of traffic. Friends can be useful for encouragement and to simply bounce ideas off. Paula sums up her advice as the following: “Believe in your sauce and don’t compare yourself to other people.”