From high school athlete to TikTok influencer, William Papa, 18, uses his platform on TikTok to create content and help people fight social anxiety.
Papa was born and raised in Gainesville. Before the COVID-19 lockdown in March, he rarely had any free time due to his school and extracurricular activities.
“I would just go to school, go to track practice, drive 2 hours to Jacksonville for soccer practice, get back home around midnight, do homework and hang out with like 2 people.”
Once March hit, his busy schedule came to an end and boredom made its grand entrance. One night at his friend’s house, he decided to create a TikTok. After some thought, he decided to create a video with a modern take on how the seven deadly sins would dress.
“I didn’t expect it to do so good.”
In 24 hours, the video had blown up and hit about 60,000 to 100,000 views. He received multiple comments asking for a part two, so he made his next video the day after.
After growing a following, he decided the type of videos he wanted to make was Point of View, or POV, videos that are shot with the viewer’s point of view. Together with his friend, they came up with clever content ideas.
“We’d stay up all night, getting out note pads and writing these ideas.”
On one night, they came up with a video idea at 1:30 a.m. It was the first video to hit one million views. From then on, his following continued to grow by thousands each day.
Today, Papa has 1.1 million followers on TikTok and has made about $18,500 in revenue through monetization and audio promotions.
Papa chooses to use his platform to help others fight social anxiety. Growing up, he was always bullied for being the tallest kid in his class. In middle school and early high school, his social anxiety grew worse. However, through creating on TikTok, he started to not care anymore.
“One thing I learned with my time on TikTok is the best way to fight social anxiety is by talking to people online first. It is the easiest way to get out of that little box that you’re in.”
To help others fight their own mental health battles, Papa created a discord server that anyone can join to gain new friends and join therapy chats with moderators that provide help. In the server, people can share their emotions, make connections with each other and become friends.
Although every creator has and will experience hate, Papa stresses the importance of remembering your self-worth and to stop trying to gain respect from bullies. He tries his best to laugh at the hate comments and seek the good.
“You need respect from your family, your peers, your friends, the ones you actually trust, and most importantly, respect for yourself. If you respect yourself while you’re doing it then I mean you’re set.”