Last week I sat down with Shanti Tan, a German YouTube sensation, to talk about her life online, the perks of the internet, and about her methods of dealing with negativity.

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Shanti is 21 and currently resides in Berlin, while organizing her life as a social media girl boss. She is smart, nice, and incredibly funny. Her humble and laid-back vibes will just make you want to be around her and enjoy the little things in life.

I met with Shanti at a pizzeria in Kreuzberg, Berlin. She happens to be an absolute foodie like me, so the evening was bound to be a good time.

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Q: Shanti! We love your online presence, when did your love for social media begin?

A: It all started with a network called SchuelerVZ, which was a big platform in Germany a few years ago. I was still fairly young, attending grade six, so I was only allowed to spend an hour there each day (laughs). It was a great experience as likes and follows didn’t have a meaning at that moment in time and I was able to get familiar with the online landscape. I only joined Facebook to stay in touch with my father, who originally resides in Singapore.

I had an epiphany when I discovered YouTube - I could spend hours online, thrilled to watch people there. In 2012, I was such a big fan that I naturally decided I wanted to be a part of that world and joined the platform as an active uploading member. Although, it was a different time back then in terms of recognition. There weren’t that many people contributing content, the algorithm was different from now and following picked up rapidly. The YouTube scene was very friendly and more familiar with one another. I connected with a lot of people, for example with Ischtar (another German YouTuber) and we became best friends up until this very day. We started collaborating a lot and things just took off from there. It was crazy as I was just a girl doing what I really enjoyed and I was really lucky to become successful from it.

Image by Meow
Shanti and her friend Ischtar

Q: What keeps you inspired on a daily basis? Do you ever come to the point where you feel pressured to be creative 24/7?

A: Pressure to be creative nonstop is a given fact. I think it’s the concomitant and struggle of every creative in every industry. We live in a culture of being pressured to produce original content like a machine to stay relevant. Nevertheless, at one point I decided that I wouldn’t bow to that pressure anymore. If I don’t have anything to share one day, I don’t constrain myself to just post something for the sake of posting. For me it is quality over quantity, my followers notice when I’m not doing something whole heartedly or am not feeling well.

I keep myself inspired online, too. My love for social media is fond and deep, to me it’s the perfect source of inspiration. I use online platforms to find new inspiration myself. It’s so amazing how many talented, aspirational, and creative people/things are out there - all brought to us in the digital world! Apart from that I love walking through the streets of Berlin, it is an incredibly creative city with interesting people. You can gain a lot from just watching your daily life.

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Q: Berlin is a good cue! When did you decide to move here and what do you like most about the city?

A: I decided to come here last year, after spending quite some time in the city, staying with friends, the summer before. I really liked the city, but apart from that Berlin is just the pivotal point of the creative industry in Germany and it makes life easier (and more enjoyable) to live here. It’s really nice, I feel at ease here.

I originally come from Hannover (it’s much smaller than Berlin) and by deciding to move, life became more exciting in terms of new discoveries. Berlin is big, it’s anonymous, yet friendly and open. There are great spots for relaxing, for shopping, and generally for everything the heart could wish for.

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Q: A lot of influencers have to live with negativity/hate speech online and offline. How do you deal with that and do you have a tip for our community on dealing with haters and bullying?

A: I have an extremely nice, tolerant, and sincere community. With that said, I am very fortunate in terms of hate speech. However, I do come around hateful comments from time to time. Most of them don’t make any sense and are not related to the specific content I upload. It is best to ignore those. On the other hand, sometimes I receive criticism, which is well thought out. That form of feedback is constructive, I take it very seriously and try to implement and improve when creating any future content. Life is a learning process and I am happy to get input from my community.

The same can be said about life in general. Is the negative message irrational and only meant to be hurtful? Then, as difficult as it may sound, ignore those haters - they don’t know better. If it is constructive negative feedback, take a moment to think about it and then go on.

Bullying on and offline is an extremely severe topic. I don’t like giving a standard tip because every story is personal and every case is different. The emotions when in the situation are so challenging that giving run-of-the-mill answers just doesn’t live up to that. However, the bottom line is talking to other people about the issue (whether it be family, friends, or teachers), in order to not be mentally alone and be able to put things back into perspective. They can remind you of your worth and beauty, regardless of what irrational bullies might tell you. Sharing fears and insecurities can really help in the process of becoming stronger and more self-confident.

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Q: What did you want to do with your life before you started being a girl boss on social media? What was your dream job when you were a little girl?

A: When I was younger I wanted to be a model, a pop star, or a TV presenter (laughs). So there was a clear tendency. I finished high school before I slipped into social media the way I use it now. After that the only thing I really wanted to do with my life was traveling. I packed my bags and left home - heading to New Zealand, Thailand, and Indonesia with a friend. I made amazing experiences by overcoming the fear of leaving my comfort zone. This is my biggest recommendation for everyone finishing school. There’s hardly a time in life that suits your wanderlust more than the time after completing school or college.

I learned more about myself than I ever did before. Coming from a society of pure consumerism, during that time I was living very comfortably, so packing only four shirts and a pair of leggings was a life changing experience. Even though you can quickly fall back into your old ways, I constantly remind myself of all the experiences I gathered abroad and try to declutter my belongings in order to free my mind.

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Q: You are extremely funny, that’s why we love you so much. Have you always been courageous and outgoing or was it difficult at first? Have you felt pressured to change your personality to match society’s expectations?

A: I often notice new trends online and feel a bit of pressure building up to become a follower of them, but I never do. Trying to be someone else never works out and you are the best version of yourself. I try to be true to myself, that’s when other’s enjoy my content most. Authenticity is key. That’s the great thing about the web, there are funny people or serious ones and we can nourish ourselves with the content that best fits us.

-You are the best version of yourself.

Q: It always looks like you’re super busy traveling and doing things, are there times when you feel down at all?

A: Yes, definitely. Life online always looks perfectly spectacular. The truth is that I have normal moments too - where I just don’t feel like doing anything, but staying in bed. I have the same insecurities as everyone else and often ask myself what I’m actually doing. The important thing is to deceive yourself to those moods, but to see the next day as a new chance.

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Q: Some of your audience is still quite young, what advice would you give the community in order to fulfill their dreams?

A: I truly believe in setting the goals YOU want to achieve for yourself, regardless of other individual’s opinions. Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle or tell you that you won’t be able to manage. Because YOU CAN.

Check out Shanti’s YouTube channel here:

Interviewed by Anka Seekings