How Tiktok Saved My Sanity

Who’d have thought a simple 15-second video could be so healing??

I was living alone for the first time in my entire life, just me and my cat, and feeling jailed in my 850 ft. apartment thanks to COVID. Legally separated from my husband of 27 years, and the guy I’d been seeing decided to join the Army. The quarantine had just been mandated and after 6 weeks, I felt myself slipping into a depression. I’ve never been depressed a day in my life; I am the annoyingly cheerful co-worked who doesn’t need coffee to be extra-exhuberant at 6 am (or midnight. I work a lot of second and NOC shifts). This no-job, no-human-touch existence was taking its toll on this social butterfly. Bored out of my skull, I found TikTok like millions of others during COVID, but something about it really began to resonate with me. I realized that it wasn’t like the similar-yet-extinct platform “Vines” at all — there weren’t any skateboarding massive-fails that ended in broken bones or other dumb redneck “accidents” making fun of people getting hurt. I realized TikTok did one of three things for me: it either turned me on (all the shirtless hot men!!), made me laugh (but not at someone’s expense, just real comedy) or it inspired me (lots of positive affirmations and girl-power videos)

I had not gone out for 4 months; I had no life, no job, no man, nothing but boredom. No boyfriend, no sex. There was snow on the ground outside, my gym was closed, I mean, wtf did I have to look forward to? It had been so long since I’d even worn make up or gave a shit about my looks. My roots were showing, I needed a manicure and pedicure and a waxing. Like everyone else, I was gaining weight and a drinking habit to go with it.

Seven weeks into quarantine, I decided to join and make a video. I decided to make a sort of PSA; it was a “mental health awareness” video. If anyone I knew found it, I wouldn’t be embarrassed. And I had exactly 6 “hearts” (likes) and that was fine with me.

I realized Tiktok wasn’t just for teenagers; there were a couple of 30 and 40+ aged men and women on there and even a hot 50+ woman that had thousands and thousands of followers and likes. I thought, Hmmm, I’ll dress sexy and see what happens. The next night, two glasses of wine in, I decided to get dolled up. I put on full make-up, a hot dress I used to wear out with my guy, and the stilettos to match. I scrolled to see what the trending song was, and made a “thirst trap” video of myself, the camera voyeuristically looking me up from heels to head to the nasty song “My Type”. I sent it to my 20 year old daughter (she’s my best friend) and told her, “Your mom is too old for TikTok LOL” and I felt ridiculous. She said, “OMG!!!!” When I went to bed that night, I had zero followers.

I woke up the next morning to a message from my daughter that said, “OMG MOM YOU’RE TIKTOK FAMOUS! YOUR VIDEO’s GOT 14.1K VIEWS!” I could not believe it. I immediately went to my profile and sure enough, I went viral overnight.

That fueled my fire, and I began dressing up a couple times a week and writhing seductively to various songs. It felt so good to get dressed up and feel pretty again, and to have hundreds if not thousands of men tell me I was pretty. Many have commented that they “cannot believe I’m single”. Haha.

Making these videos has been a great boon to my ego and self esteem; when the one you love fails to tell you you’re pretty, or amazing, or make time to even text you back, it’s a pretty solid subsitute. And the followers kept increasing, and the likes and views and kind comments kept coming. TikTok has become my boyfriend, and he’s so much more giving and reliable.

I made my first video June 18th, and since then, I’ve made a total of 49 videos. I’ve got almost 5000 followers, 17.5K likes all videos combined. One video has over 100K views. I have so much fun getting all dressed up and making them! It’s my reward after a long day at work or studying (I’ve since gotten a job and I’m in grad school). I never plan what I’m going to do; I let a feeling come to me or a song and I spend less than an hour total making them, and I always feel light and happy afterward.

I feel so much affection for my followers; they are so loyal to me, I’ve got thousands of comments from them professing their admiration of me from the sexiness of my legs to admiration of me as a human being who’s a residential mental health care specialist and grad student. I don’t have haters or men that are rude or obnoxious; amazingly, everyone has been so nice to me and enjoys watching my videos. Several have sent me DM’s that suggest I put my Venmo account up so men can send me money. This is not something I’d ever do; I am not a prostitute (I do not judge) but I’m not making these to make money. I’ve had hundreds of marriage proposals. They’re a substitute for real human interaction in the COVID world we live in.

I am grateful to TikTok and know Trump has threatened to destroy it; there is speculation that the company that created TikTok — ByteDance, a Chinese company, is a threat to the U.S. I pray a U.S. company buys it to keep it afloat. There are approximately 500 million users — it’s available in 39 languages and in 150 markets around the world. What I love about TikTok is it is culturally sensitive and diverse; everyone is welcomed — from the LQBTQ+ community to people of color. The lack of judgmentalness on this platform is what really inspires me — there is zero bullying and all shapes and sizes and ages are accepted and applauded. If ever there was a platform that screamed the Billy Joel song “I love you just the way you are”, TikTok is it.

It’s been three months since my first TikTok video, and I still haven’t gone out; dating during COVID is a lonely joke, and it will be a year until my Army guy will get leave time to come home. He’s half a world away. Who knows what state our relationship will be in then. We aren’t exlusive. In the meantime, I’m having fun making scandalous 15-second videos that have helped me lose weight, feel more confident, and have given me motivation to self-care. My depression has lifted and I have something to look forward to when there’s nothing to look forward to.

Thank you TikTok, for saving my life.

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Lauren Thomas

I’m a singer/mother/grad student trying to learn to love myself