I’ve been wasting a ton of time online lately. I know I should be working, but I just can’t seem to make myself do it. Even worse, I’ve been finding myself kinda fixated on other cammers. I keep checking them out, and it just makes me feel worse and worse about myself when I see how well they’re doing.
Wasting Time in Wichita
Dear Wasting Time in Wichita,
In the modern age, the internet provides endless opportunities for us to follow other people’s public lives in ways that can make us feel like we don’t measure up. There’s even a fancy new term for it: Obsessive Comparison Syndrome. OCS is “a compulsion to compare oneself with others in a way that produces anxiety and depression.”
Long before the digital age, people made themselves sick by comparing themselves to others. The phenomenon is quite painful and can be exacerbated by online life. Furthermore, the urge can be particularly seductive — and destructive — for sex workers, including cam models. Let me explain what I mean.
Advertising is the business of selling make-believe. Nowhere is that more true than in the sex industry, selling the fantasy that we’re flawless in appearance, hugely popular and always ready for action. Let’s just step back and acknowledge one important fact: Most advertising is projection, often augmented by professional photography, airbrushing and a whole lot of hype. In truth, the sex industry is made up of mere mortals, and most of us fall far short of perfection.
Even with that in mind, constantly checking out the competition can give us plenty of opportunities to feel bad about ourselves. You’ve taken an important first step by noticing how it makes you feel. Here’s some additional advice to move past online obsessing.
Nobody’s perfect … and hardly anyone’s secure.
Research consistently shows that most people feel insecure. One study found a mere 4 percent of women think they’re pretty. That means a whole lot of us are walking around feeling not-so-good about ourselves, but you’d never know it from all the selfies posted online. Let go of believing everyone else is swimming in self-confidence. A lot of people are carrying private pain.
Compare yourself to yourself.
You are the only person you need to worry about, and yours is the only business over which you have control. You can start by identifying and affirming your successes and strengths. Setting goals and achieving them is an excellent way to build your self-esteem. The trick is to make your targets both ambitious and realistic. Aim high, so you can take pride in a job well done, but not so high you set yourself up to fail.
Ignore other people’s numbers.
Online numbers mean very little. People buy followers, juice their likes and brag about huge payoffs that don’t exist. I’m not saying everyone online is a liar, but remember: We’re talking the internet here.
Concentrating on finding your core followers, a fan base that gets and supports you, is a far better use of your time. Shift your attention to how your fans make you feel. That’s true success.
Let praise in.
This is a job where people pay us to tell us how hot we are. That’s pretty sweet, when you think about it. When somebody gives you a compliment, stop for a moment and really let the positive assessment soak in. Enjoying praise doesn’t make you stuck up or vain; instead, it means you’re invested in cultivating your self-esteem. You deserve to feel attractive and desirable.
If you struggle with accepting admiration, try keeping a praise journal and read it whenever you’re feeling down. We might not allow ourselves to take in a single compliment, but when we read 10, 15, 20 in a row, they get harder to ignore. It’s funny how we fixate on all the negative things people say about us and push the nice things away. But really, it should be the other way around.
Go cold turkey.
Sometimes you need to cut yourself off from the source of whatever is stealing your time and making you miserable. Free and low-cost apps like KeepMeOut and Tomato Timer help you to monitor how long you spend on certain sites. Cold Turkey and SelfControl can block you altogether.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When you worry about what other people are doing, you waste energy. You’re more than one step ahead of the competition when you stay focused on you.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself.
Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry, a self-help book for sex workers now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and wherever else ebooks are sold. Contact her at Lola.Davina@ynotcam.com and visit her on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
Image of Lola Davina courtesy Pat Mazzera.