I was once bullied for my videos, now I’m a TikTok Influencer with 246k followers

At a very young age, I had developed a deep interest in filming. The idea of being in front of the camera has always fascinated me, and there were many reasons. For one, seeing myself on screen was always exciting. It was a way for me to express my creativity through the screen. Capturing these real-life thoughts and movements through a small device made me feel as though I was transported into a world of my own, and it was something that I really loved. 

A Short-lived dream

I was 13 when I started up my first youtube channel. At that time, I was really into gaming, and thus had this idea of filming myself playing video games. The entire process was just an instinct for me – I filmed with the camera, learnt how to edit the videos by myself and uploaded them onto my channel. There were lots of trial and error in the process since I did the editing on my own without watching any tutorials, but it was really enjoyable. Having no prior experience in filming and editing, the contents on my youtube were not of high quality, but I was genuinely happy about it as a passion project. 

However, this passion project on youtube became known in school, and I became the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. The bullies at my school mocked me and laughed at those videos. At first, I brushed those comments aside by thinking of it as ‘just words’, but it was quite difficult. As teenagers, we get affected by the words and opinions of our peers on a much deeper level. Even if it’s just a word, verbal bullying has an impact on our self-esteem and leaves us wondering if we are really a ‘failure’ just like what others said. 

My confidence was totally shattered as time went by. For a long time, I wondered if I was going to keep the youtube channel, and continue doing what I loved. But alas, I decided to close the youtube channel down completely. 

Embracing my love for filming again

Nick and I shared a common passion in filming videos, and became best friends. Image courtesy of author.

In 2018, there was a music video clip that featured emerging singers from Cesenatico (Italy), where I was residing. My friends, who were singers, had invited me to participate in the video together with them. They had appreciated my fashion style and thought that it would be great for the video. It was there where I met Nick Barbiani, a boy from Riccione, Italy. He was two years younger than me, but we got along well and eventually became friends. 

TikTok was really popular at that time in Europe, and it was a topic that we were both interested in. Through our conversations, I then discovered that Nick already had 100k followers on the said platform at that time. This intrigued me because it seemed like a difficult number to achieve in my opinion and I was interested to find out more from him.

While I knew that putting myself out on social media entails negative comments from the public, I decided it was not going to stop me anymore. The thought of learning about TikTok and its videos enthralled me so much, I was more than ready to get back into the game. Eventually, I began filming videos with Nick, taking his advice and learning along the way. 

Learning how to grow a following was the hardest. Image courtesy of author.

It wasn’t an easy process – the starting was always the hardest. Learning on how to grow a following was a huge hurdle to get across. I also had other commitments – studying and working part-time as a lifeguard. It was hard to keep up at times, but the encouragement I’ve received from Nick and my followers gave me the confidence and motivation to continue on. 

It wasn’t that long till I saw the results of my efforts. In just a few months, I saw my followers grow exponentially on both TikTok and Instagram. From 10k followers, it had doubled almost immediately, and I had reached 200k followers by the end of 2019. It was a wondrous journey for me, to see what I could achieve in just one year. 

Since then, I’ve started to gain recognition in my country, and inched closer to the entertainment industry step by step. I was really honored to be casted on the Netflix show ‘Summertime’ for a small role, and it turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I was also interviewed by the local newspapers and radio stations. It was unbelievable, and I was so grateful for all the opportunities presented to me. 

Believe in yourself, and people will believe in you

One of the greatest things I learnt from this journey is to believe in myself, and carry on with what I was passionate about, regardless of what others said. No one had believed in me from the start when I wanted to film videos, not my friends and family, much less the bullies from my school. While those words hurt back then, I’ve learnt to come in terms with them, and turn it into a motivation for me to go further. 

Another thing I’ve learnt was that growth comes from experience. When I started filming TikTok videos, I didn’t start from scratch. The youtube channel I set up when I was 13 had helped me in knowing what to expect, albeit the experience being a short-lived one. Looking back, I’ve also probably grown to be much more mature in handling my own emotions, which was why I was able to withstand all the external pressures of doing social media. 

The world out there might not always look at you warmly, therefore it is all the more important that you show yourself some kindness. Only then, will you be able to move forward, and achieve all the goals. Finally, if there was anything I could say to everyone out there, it would be, “Believe in yourself, because it is only then that the world would believe in you.” 


Once bullied and called a “loser” for his videos, Alex Tonti picked himself up and turned negativity into positivity. In just one year, he grew his TikTok to 200k followers and is now inching towards the entertainment industry in Italy. “Believe in yourself” is a motto kept close to his heart and kept him going in his constant pursuit of dreams in filming. .

Disclaimer: All content is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the writer. If you’d like to contribute, you can apply here

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