Hi! I'm not an eloquent person but I wanted to get my thoughts down for myself and for others to see.
I haven't streamed in over a month now, and to be quite honest, it's been.. oddly nice. I've been quite active on social media outside of streaming, so perhaps you didn't even notice or, you found me in the last couple months and didn't even know I streamed, haha. There was a heat wave in the bay area mid June, and for that week, I was unable to stream because of how hot my room would get while streaming (like high 80s, ew). After that week of not streaming, I realized how much freedom and relief I felt in not having to set apart 4-5 hours per day for 3-4 days a week to stream. And it was then that I realized how much streaming had started to have a negative effect on me and my mental health, and made a decision to take a step back from it.
It's not anything new; my relationship with streaming has always been a love/hate thing. There are a lot of things I love about streaming: interacting with people, sharing my hobby (well, hobby turned job) and my art process, doing silly things like rapping about keyboards, playing games with my community, building friendships, having people to talk to while I worked, and other good things! It's allowed me to express myself in a way I don't think I would have otherwise.
But I do think there are things that streaming brings out in me that I find to be negative and unwanted: jealousy, comparing myself to others, basing my worth/success on numbers, chasing after fame, wanting so hard to be liked and accepted by people, neglecting my own health (both physical and mental), making me feel anxious about something I enjoy doing, having to be 'on' and available for people, and how easy it is to burnout from. I became more and more anxious about streaming. I was worried about taking breaks, fearing the loss of subscribers and momentum would affect me too much. And streaming just wasn't as enjoyable for me anymore.
I think maybe I'm a bit lucky in that I don't have to rely on streaming for my main source of income (I’m able to rely on selling my physical art), so it's not something that I really have to ever do. So taking a break was not as detrimental to my income as it would have been if full time. But I honestly don't think I'd ever be able to do it full time, and I respect and admire those that have made a full time career out of it. Don't be misguided; it may seem like an a dream job - 'you just play video games all day and get paid for it! what a life!' - but there's so much more that goes into streaming than just.. playing video games or doing art, or whatever else it is that you stream. It’s not just the time that you have to actually stream, but also time it takes to setup your stream: designing your stream graphics/assets, figuring out what emotes/badges you want to have, planning what games you want to play, being active in your discord, setting up your stream hardware like lights, cameras, etc. - basically brand management, community management, marketing, and networking - the whole shebang of running a business. Streaming is not easy, and even doing it part time had taken a toll on me.
I'm a people pleaser and at the core of me, I just want to be liked and appreciated. And when I can put numbers to these wants and "measure" it (and see a lack of growth over time), it becomes dangerous and easy to turn into an obsession. What am I doing wrong? Why am I not growing? How come they're doing so well? How can I do better? Note: These aren't bad things to think about, just not healthy to think only about them and all the time. Taking a break from streaming has broken some of these bad patterns and thoughts, but it's something I still struggle with (esp. since I still am on platforms that are dependent on numbers) and have to continually work on. My value doesn’t come from how many followers I have, or how many people are watching my stream. It’s hard to remember and internalize, but admitting I have a problem was a necessary step to help address it. I get caught up in numbers on Twitter/IG as well, so I am still learning how to deal with it on a whole, and not just for streaming.
I'm still taking care of some things: physical space matters a lot (mine is a mess) and I hear therapy is quite helpful (am looking into it!). so this break is not quite over, but I just wanted to give an update to those who were curious. Let me make this clear though. I’m not quitting; there's a lot I still want to do with streaming/video content! I think I need to ease myself back into it, and take things slow. I want to get to a point where I feel no longer stressed and obligated to stream, but doing it out of enjoyment and because I want to.
And I don't really think that I'm alone in this. I've seen plenty of other streamers share about their experiences about the negative effects of streaming (particularly when it's too late, and they've already burnt out). I think it's all too common an issue that we don't address maybe as often as we should. For those of you that stream (this is a message to myself as well), please take care of yourselves first, ask for help when you need it, and don't let the numbers define you. There is more to life than streaming, and fame is fleeting and temporary. At the end of your life, are you going to be thinking about how many people were watching you, how many subs and followers you had, or how many hours you streamed? Probably not. But learn to cherish the experience of it and the friends you make along the way, and that will be worth so much more.
TL;DR - I stopped streaming because it was negatively impacting me, and am taking a break. Am still working on myself in the meantime but am hoping to return to streaming.. soon.