“Finding Balance with Mental Health Amidst the Toxicity of Social Media”: An Essay by I AM SOPHIA for Mental Health Awareness Month

I AM SOPHIA © 2024
I AM SOPHIA © 2024
Throughout the year, Atwood Magazine invites members of the music industry to participate in a series of essays reflecting on identity, music, culture, inclusion, and more.
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Today, galactic pop singer, songwriter, and producer I AM SOPHIA shares her essay, “Finding Balance with Mental Health Amidst the Toxicity of Social Media,” as a part of Atwood Magazine’s Mental Health Awareness Month series. “Navigating social media as an artist can severely impact mental health, requiring a balance between maintaining public presence and personal well-being,” she says. “This journey, as I’ve discovered, involves prioritizing mental health practices and embracing compassion, even towards critics, to remain true to oneself and find joy in sharing art.”
I AM SOPHIA’s music is more than just catchy hooks; it’s a transformative experience designed to awaken the starseed DNA within each listener. As a singer, songwriter, and producer, she brings a wealth of experience to her craft, with achievements including SESAC affiliated accolades, theatrical sync placements, and headlining a stadium show in Dubai alongside BIA and Ayo & Teo. Her debut Galactic Pop EP, “Alien Being Human,” is set to release in June, followed by a series of ongoing singles throughout the end of 2024. With each release, I AM SOPHIA invites listeners to embark on a journey of self-discovery and cosmic awakening.
You can catch I AM SOPHIA live at Disclosurefest’s “Stairway to the Stars / Mass Meditation Initiative” where she will grace the Main Stage on Saturday, June 22, 2024. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the transformative power of Galactic Pop firsthand!
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“FINDING BALANCE WITH MENTAL HEALTH AMIDST THE TOXICITY OF SOCIAL MEDIA”

by I AM SOPHIA

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To be an artist in today’s market, chances are, you’ll have to play the game of social media.

To play the game of social media, chances are, you will suffer the byproduct of unstable mental health.

Thus, one must make a choice: do you put your mental health first and choose to stay out of the public eye? Or do you put your career first and rally to play the game even if it means sacrificing your well-being?

If you choose the latter, you must first make a commitment to take extra special care of your mental and emotional health, knowing that social media will otherwise deplete you. You must then come to peace with the fact that there are going to be hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people who will dislike you, simply just for being yourself and putting yourself out there.

I AM SOPHIA © 2024
I AM SOPHIA © 2024

This is the tricky part – this is where the entity of social media becomes dangerous and holds power over people’s lives.

How does one stay true to oneself in an online sea of opinions? How does one block out the noise of the trolls? That’s what I’m exploring in myself right now — how I can learn to disregard the disturbing parts of social media in a way that allows me to continue finding joy in this path. What I’m realizing is that the only way to survive this digital world is by not only cultivating lifestyle practices that nourish mental and emotional balance, but then also having the discipline to prioritize these practices over getting caught up in the online rabbit hole.

It’s ironic that this is Mental Health Awareness Month because, in these past three weeks alone, I have become more aware of the intricacies of my mental health than ever before. How? Through social media. So, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (which, let’s be real, is every dang month), I want to share the rollercoaster of a ride that I’ve had with my mental health in direct correlation to social media… and the epiphany that came with it.

About a month ago, I resurfaced on social media after having taken more than a year off from posting. I was reluctant to plug back into the social media matrix because I had spent all of 2023 focused on my “real world” reality and very much enjoyed the digital hiatus. At the same time, however, I was excited to share all of this new music and reconnect with my online community in a fresh way.

So, I started posting 15-30 second clips of my first single “Alien Being Human,” in promotion of its release on May 10th. I was eager to share this song because I wrote it for everyone who knows their souls are otherworldly and are thus having a hard time being human. “Alien Being Human” is an anthem to remind us all that the only way to navigate this temporary Earth experience is through the heart. I genuinely thought that most people would relate! I was very, very wrong, haha.

Suddenly my views started increasing at a rapid rate — except not in a good way, people hated it! Hundreds of trolls began berating me in the comments, many of them also sending hateful DMs. Dozens and dozens of people telling me to kill myself… saying they’d throw a party if I did. It seemed like my reality had done a 180 overnight — I went to bed feeling happy and grateful to be sharing this new music, only to wake up the next day and realize that I was the new cringe bait of Instagram.

I AM SOPHIA © 2024
I AM SOPHIA © 2024

The first week of this was the hardest. As the haters continued to grow and my videos got torn to shreds, I went into a deep reckoning with myself about whether this path was one that I could handle or not. Did I believe in myself and my music so fiercely that even an online brigade of hate couldn’t deter me from moving forward? If there was ever a time to quit, it would be now.

But what about all of the people who were telling me they loved my music? All those who made it a point to share stories about how this music is healing them, inspiring them, activating them? These are the voices that give me strength and motivation… but unfortunately these are the voices that I ignored at first — the hate absorbed much more of my attention (initially) than the love. Why? Because the hate was a shattering of expectation, it was a killing of my ego. I was not anticipating such an extreme rejection from society and thus it made me question my worth, my identity and my sanity. As if my depression and anxiety weren’t difficult enough, this experience triggered me into a deep spiral of darkness. I felt crazy, I felt unworthy and honestly, I felt like giving up. I couldn’t even sleep at night because I was afraid of waking up the next day to more death threats!

Flash forward a couple weeks to now, however, and I am grateful for this experience because it was through this dark night of the soul that I found my way back to love. Love for myself, love for my music, love for all those who are resonating with my music — and love for all of those who are not. This experience has taught me the importance of compassion when it comes to mental health. The moment that I started putting myself in the “haters” shoes and realizing how much they must be suffering to encourage another person to kill themselves, I stopped caring about what they thought about me. My sadness transformed into compassion. My anxiety and depression felt universal. It was a good reminder that we are all suffering, in one way or another, and radical kindness is critical right now.

I AM SOPHIA © 2024
I AM SOPHIA © 2024

It sounds cheesy, but the more I phase out the hate, the more I discover the love.

I’m coming to peace knowing that there will probably always be people who don’t understand me or my music, and that’s okay. Those aren’t the people I’m making this music for. I’m making this music for the souls that light up when they hear it; for those who resonate with the cosmic universe. All I care about is that this music finds those people. The haters can keep hating if it helps them sleep at night, but I’m no longer giving them my power.

Now, I want to emphasize that just because I have compassion for the “haters,” doesn’t mean I condone their behavior. It shakes me to the core when I think about how cruel people can be while hiding behind a screen. It’s no wonder that adolescent suicide rates are skyrocketing! I can only imagine how the 12 year old me would have felt if I had bullies coming at me online telling me to kill myself. In this way, I would argue that social media literally has a lethal effect on our collective mental health.

Had this happened to me even a few years ago, it definitely would have broken me. The only reason I’m standing strong in myself right now is because of practices such as therapy, meditation, breath-work, being in nature and exercise. Mental health requires just as much daily upkeep as your physical health — I never really understood that until recently. These practices help me to find inner peace no matter how turbulent the waters are. I am grateful to be in a place in my life where I can withstand the backlash, and also, I am hopeful of a future timeline in which this toxic culture shifts into something more positive — imagine what the world would be like if we all embodied radical kindness!?

No matter what, I’m determined to stay anchored in love and integrity. Do you love my music? I send you love. You hate my music? I send you love. “The only way to activate is through the heart” — one of my favorite lines from Alien Being Human. I believe that if I continue to stay anchored in my heart, I can play this wild crazy social media game in a way that doesn’t rob me of my soul. I believe this because I’m already seeing proof of it. The moment that I switched gears and started focusing solely on being loving and authentic regardless of the hate, the more I started connecting with the people who actually enjoy my music; the more I discovered purpose in what I am doing; and the more I got inspired about the path ahead. I’ve even had some haters reach out and tell me that after listening to “Alien Being Human” upon its release, they were pleasantly surprised and now love the song! To me, it’s a testament of how kindness can turn any situation around. I am kind to those who bash me, and thus they have no fuel to keep berating me. It is my hope that I can continue to exemplify love and kindness in a way that inspires others to “activate through the heart.”

I AM SOPHIA © 2024
I AM SOPHIA © 2024

It’s important to note that I by no means am hunky dory when it comes to my mental health now.

Just because I’m getting better at blocking out the hate doesn’t mean I’m not still struggling with it every day. I think social media in general is a huge mind-f*ck. Even just perusing on social media can lead to extreme depression and anxiety because it further perpetuates the fear of not being enough. This is why discipline is so important; you have to be disciplined in not letting yourself get wrapped up in the illusion of it all. Whenever I find myself getting sucked into the negativity, I literally say out loud to myself “Do you care more about what strangers think about you then what YOU think about you!?” And then I put my phone in another room until I’m able to mentally change channels. The only way to overcome the darkness of social media is by not giving it your power.

Your opinion of yourself is much more important than the opinion of strangers. Do you want to spend your life living for the approval of others, or living with the grace of self-acceptance? The journey of mental health is a marathon, not a sprint, and the more you commit to healing for the long haul, the more enjoyable the journey becomes.

To anyone reading this essay: Know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel when you choose to keep moving forward from the heart. Social media can be a ruthless environment, but if you approach it with levity, compassion and radical kindness, miracles can happen. – I AM SOPHIA

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