Okay, you’re here. This is exciting. So first, I might be biased but I think you should go check out my “Philosophy” tab because… I want you to?
Additionally! I know sometimes people are like “you didn’t leave the visual aid/text bit up for long enough!” – for which I’m sorry, it’s hard to time stuff like that right and I’m working on it, BUT here’s all that stuff in one convenient spot, if you want to go back over it.
All of these diagrams were made using MindMeister, which is literally my favorite thing.
I’ve been feeling really small and powerless. I’ve been listening to this Keane song over and over and just hoping that it applies in some way to my situation, and the world’s in general, I guess. I still want to believe that the world is a beautiful place where the lovers don’t always lose, you know, where good does prevail, at least some of the time. But it’s fucking difficult to keep believing that that’s true, no matter who you are, right now, it’s just more obvious for more people, now, than it used to be.
But even if some of this does apply to me, I still have a lot of regrets about ever doing anything on social media, even though I never had a choice. And I’m still convinced deep down that no one does genuinely care what I have to say. Maybe, honestly, I don’t believe that anyone genuinely cares about anything other than themselves. That’s the way I feel in my dark moments, anyway, and these days it’s pretty much always just darkness, for me.
I love Keane so much. I didn’t even know they had a new album out and I’ve listened to them more than almost any other band… yeah. Ever. If you did the math on it, they would undoubtedly be in my top 5, if not my actual number one. To be fair, they have a leg up on the competition because I’ve been obsessed with them since High School. But, like. Whatever, that’s hardly the point… but I’m just saying it’s a little insane that I didn’t even know they had a new album out. And also, if you’re reading this for some reason and also aren’t also obsessed with them, I’m a million percent certain they will change your life. Not to oversell it or anything.
I’m a little drunk, I’m sorry. But if I can literally get half naked on camera and still meet my own eye in the mirror, I guess this doesn’t feel that… you know what it is? Youtubers, bloggers, whatever, do everything backwards. They don’t start out knowing why anyone would give a shit what they have to say, you know, it’s not like being an actor or a musician who gets a record out first and THEN posts the b-sides or live stuff, it’s like… it’s like going on a date with someone you’ve already heavily sexted with. It just isn’t the same, at all, and it feels way more fucked up and there’s so much more pressure to live up to some kind of impossible standard of being both incredibly intimate and incredibly skilled and charismatic and so on, is any of this even making sense?
Anyway, I keep trying to run away from myself and that… isn’t possible. So I don’t know… I don’t know how to let myself just exist, you know. Turn my brain off and let myself post a really stupid blog post that only three people will read, but that for some reason still makes me feel naked in a way that actually being naked probably wouldn’t even make me feel. I don’t know.
It’s a good song, though, so. Let’s focus on that part, I guess.
Only want to say that I gave it all I had That I felt afraid and I didn’t step back Whether right or wrong I did everything with loveFelt it all Gave it all Drank it allAnd we make mistakes And they make us what we are And we jump right in And throw open our hearts And we catch a glimpse of something magical Want it all, take it all, got it allThen we love too much Or we push too hard Or we fly too high Or we go too far For a moment I was all that you could see For a moment I was all that I could be Nothing can take that away from me Nothing can take that away from meAnd our purest dreams Steal something from our lives They can only live Because something else dies But they lift us up And they make us walk so tall Got it all, got it all, got it allThen we love too much Or we push too hard Or we fly too high Or we go too far For a moment I was all that you could see For a moment I was all that I could be Nothing can take that away from me Nothing can take that away from meNothing can take that away from me Nothing can take that away from meAnd the purest dreams Well, they make us feel so high When you’re falling down Is when you feel most alive Whether right or wrong You do everything with love Feel it all, give it all, drink it upThen we love too much Or we push too hard Or we fly too high Or we go too far For a moment I was all that you could see For a moment I was all that I could be Nothing can take that away from me Nothing can take that away from me Nothing can take that away from me Nothing can take that away from me
*unnecessary postscript: I’ve also been obsessing over Miike Snow’s videos, which you should also look into if you’re here for some reason. I’m currently making sims of the dancers in genghis khan and pull my trigger because OH MY GOD I CAN’T I LOVE IT SO MUCH
I think ultimately the decision of whether to delete my channel and pretend it never happened comes down to a couple of things.*
First, I hate celebrity culture. I hate LA. I hate fame as a concept and I hate what it turns people into. I hate social media and the relentless shallowness of so much of modern social life, whether or not it’s online. I hate that I ever was even tempted to play the views game, and I hate that if I kept making videos, at some point I would have to. That it’s impossible not to, that it’s just a part of the medium itself.
But it’s more than just that. I enter every new relationship by announcing my flaws. I apologize before I do anything wrong just to make sure that I’m ahead of my own blunders. I assume that I will fail or make some catostrophic, unfixable error before I even start something and even after it’s done I worry that I’m missing some glaring fuck up that everyone else can see. I avoid looking in the mirror more than a few times a day because otherwise I’ll obsess about the thing that may or may not be obviously stupid about my appearance that day.
Basically, I start from the assumption that I either am doing something wrong, or soon will, and go from there. And with YouTube, the goal isn’t even clear which makes it a thousand times worse because according to someone, you’re ALWAYS doing something wrong.
For years I told myself I was incapable of doing anything well, that I was unskilled in anything that could pay the bills. And maybe that’s true, but my bills aren’t that high anyway. I don’t need a lot more than I already have, materially speaking.
But the truth is, maybe I was choosing to see myself as powerless because I didn’t want to also learn how to be responsible with power. And maybe I was choosing to see myself as worthless because a person who has value has to choose how to distribute that value. Maybe I’ve spent so long being afraid of my own voice that I forgot how to speak at all.
But fuck all of that. And fuck the belief that I can only be one kind of person, because I don’t see why I can’t allow myself to be both terrified and brave, both educational and silly, both overthinking and reckless, both a loner and a leader, both a deep thinker and an airhead, both dweeb and debaucherous.
I’m all that stuff, but I don’t have to prove any of that to anyone or worry that they’ll misinterpret the contradictions in who I am because that isn’t something that I can control. And I don’t want to waste my life letting the things I can’t control control me. That’s no way to live.
So maybe I’ll just have to accept that despite my flaws, I’m also kind of awesome. And maybe if other people agree, I should get out of my own way for a change and let them.
* also the humping thing and the shame and embarrassment things and all the other stuff but let’s ignore that stuff for the sake of, like, moving prose or whatever
Books, movies, shows, art, games, blogs… whatever it is, we all THINK we know what makes one “good.”
Any philosophy dorks are already getting suspicious but maybe even those of us humble enough not to claim to have authority on what’s objectively good… maybe we still at LEAST think that we know why WE like something.
I like Firefly for the world building and thematic depth, for instance. Or maybe I like New Girl for the heart touching comedy combined with entertaining characters and story structures. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but I THINK I know why I like things, generally.
But do I? Do we? How do we explain things that get really popular despite not being “good”? Or how do we explain why a show like Westworld or Black Mirror becomes such a cultural phenomenon where a show like Firefly stays more or less in a niche market?
And maybe more to the point, I guess I wonder… are we all our own tiny version of a TV show? With all the personal branding of modern life, how do we know what makes us like other people? What makes other people like us? And are those good reasons?
Why not play your cards close to the chest? Why take risks? Why go the extra mile? Why not just play it safe, as a personal marketing tool? You know?
I know that I’m kind of playing devil’s advocate with what’s obviously not my natural tendency but… why? How is a person supposed to decide whether they’re going to be an earnest but short-lived show, or a long-running but ultimately shallow one?
The loneliest feeling, in my opinion, is to realize that no one – not one single human – has to tell you the truth about themselves.
It’s one thing to know that they can’t – that’s a separate problem. But at least most of the time, with most people, we assume, or just blindly hope, that they’re at least, for the most part, trying to.
True, the goal of most social interaction isn’t really to form a relationship strong enough to combat existential loneliness. But it could be. And on some level maybe we always want it to be. I think I do. I don’t know why. I don’t know if that’s special, I don’t think it is.
But no one you meet, no one you know, not even your closest family and friends, owes you the truth about themselves. Or at the very least, they’re not going to be forced to tell you the truth about themselves. Not completely. Not ever. So maybe they’re hiding the truth on purpose, maybe they’re trying to manipulate you or get something out of you, but maybe also they’re just ducking human and they don’t pay that much attention at all, they just do their best to manage each relationship by ear and hope for the best.
But no one is ever trustworthy. Not really. It will always be a possibility that any or all of the people you know are lying about who they are, are hiding some enormous secret that would change the way you see them, you just can’t know. You can’t. Unless you’re conjoined twins, maybe. But you can’t know for sure, not really.
But imagine if we lived our lives actually fully realizing that. Would we even be able to function?
When I finally figured it out, I can tell you, I couldn’t. Maybe I still can’t, I don’t know.
I think maybe the reason I’m so aggressively forthright in life and online is that the betrayal I’ve been through over and over since I became an adult has been so deep and caught me so unaware that now I feel compelled to be the opposite. Because I’d rather be too open than let myself become like the people who hurt me by pretending to be something they’re not.
I would rather live and die a thousand times being too honest about who I am than die once knowing that I protected my own ego and interests when I could have helped someone else feel less alone. I just wish I could still believe that anyone else truly felt the same way.
So, about the YouTube thing. The world now is obsessed with social media, and I get it, it’s disgusting. One of the biggest reasons I want to delete my channel is because it horrifies me that I can’t control what other people interpret about me the second they find their way deep enough into my social media rabbit hole.
I know that you can’t control how other people see you no matter what you do, but it’s just that… I get it. The temptation to assume that I’m just another name on the infinite list of attention-hungry millennials looking for someone – anyone – to tell them they’re special, to make them feel like their mostly mundane life is actually worth paying attention to.
And I know that any good therapist or friend would say that it shouldn’t matter what people think if you know that they’re wrong… and I do know that they’re wrong. I’m not that person. I’m shy. I can crave attention and validation and spotlight, I guess, sure, but mainly I’m just sweaty, uncomfortable in my own skin, and unwilling to waste time getting to know people if they aren’t looking for the truth. The whole truth. You know?
Working with kids has been interesting. It’s been reminding me that deep down, we all just want to be known. We all were once children who would spill our entire life stories to a stranger just to remind ourselves that we exist, that we HAD a life story at all, no matter how short. Because to us, that’s all there was, so every tiny part mattered. There was no sense of proportion, of our favorite color being less important than what we wanted to be when we grew up, or whatever. It all mattered and we wanted it all to be seen.
I think that’s all adults want too, but it gets so much more complicated because we get so much more complicated. I, for example, have all kinds of weird shit in my brain and in my life that you just can’t share in most contexts, but for whatever reason on the internet, that kind of thing is fair game. Because, why? Maybe because it feels private and public at the same time? Or because everyone online is just trying to one up each other in terms of being unique and special and interesting? Or maybe because deep down I pretty much believe that the vast majority of people just don’t care enough to do a deep dive into someone else’s timeline.
That’s another thing adults and children have in common: we’re all excruciatingly self-absorbed. But kids… I think kids haven’t yet begun to see other people as fundamentally predictable, so maybe they still find other people interesting in a way adults often don’t unless they want something out of you.
Anyway. I’ve been enjoying proving to myself that I’m not the person who makes YouTube videos because they want attention or fame or whatever by taking a break from all of that. And it’s nice to know that these days, if anyone wants to creep on my social media, they have to come here. That feels nice. Less shallow, or maybe more under my control because it’s harder to misinterpret something if you’re forced to really engage with it, like you have to if you’re reading a blog post.
But uh, yeah. It hardly seems fair, being raised in the age of social media. It feels like it was never a choice, and now it’s just all so… I don’t know.
One thing about kids that I appreciate, too, is… they’re real. And that much I know to be true about me, too. When I’m not sure of anything else about myself, I will never doubt that I am incapable of being anything other than me. Sometimes that can feel crippling, but I think it’s also maybe the best thing about me, and the reason other people who are the same way seem to respond to me, why kids seem to respond to me. When you’re real, when you’re honest, and you don’t talk down to people… sometimes magic can happen.
It’s just… maybe having power is something I’m so not accustomed to that… the magic seems more scary than inviting. It all comes with a price, right? I guess the price of mine is when you’re yourself all the time… you feel… everything. Every tiny moment of the day that other people don’t think twice about, to me those are all equally important. Maybe that’s why I have such a child-like vibe about me, that in so many ways I just refuse to grow up and start seeing things through a more proportioned lens. But to be honest, even though I know it makes me seem silly and naive to a lot of people, I still kind of hope that I never do.
Hi. So. This blog feels more like a diary which is awkward, but… we’ve gone over that a bunch of times already. I doubt anyone has read every post, anyway, so maybe it’s more like… a feeble attempt to get outside of my own head in a space that still feels safe, for the most part, although I know that realistically, there’s no such thing as a safe place on the internet.
Anyway. Skipping the intro part where I mention that it’s a weird thing to do to blog at all as a defense against imaginary critics…
So. Social media hiatus. I’ve actually succeeded, for a while, and haven’t even been tempted, really. But maybe on the off chance that anyone cares enough to read this, I’ll explain a little.
YouTube used to be my favorite thing in the whole world, in the days when it was really a small fraction of what it is today. As a viewer, I mean. But I feel like when I started making my own stuff, it was like I was stuck in the mindset that YouTube still was what it used to be when the vlogbrothers had like the biggest following on the platform. (Did they even? I don’t remember. They were up there, though.)
ANYWAY. It was like a community, then, it’s like it was a private school with one grade per class and then all of the sudden it was the entire school district.
So three things about me: I’m dumb, I’m idealistic, and I’m extremely stubborn. And I’m not sure which of those qualities was the one that made me insist on treating YouTube like the sandbox it once was instead of the clusterfuck of attention seeking it is now. But they all probably contributed, among other things like desperation and loneliness blah blah.
ANYWAY. So all that happened but all of the sudden I started to become aware that the beginning stages of a channel, I’m talking like working up to 100 and then 300 subs, which took longer, I think, for me, than it took to get from 300 to 1700. Which is normal, I think, but the point is that pre-300ish area was really… I don’t know, pure? For me? My process was? Maybe because it was so fresh and new and then all of the sudden I was putting so much pressure on myself that I couldn’t… so.
What I wanted to talk about before I started rambling was this: I’m the kind of person who reads sociology papers for fun. Who listens to audiobooks by MIT professors arguing that human life is a kind of simulation game while playing simulation games. Who knows the difference between the epistemology of Descartes and Wittgenstein and would enjoy an excuse to talk about it.
But I’m not smart. Which I don’t mean as a put-down, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I think intelligence is just such an unhelpful and often harmful concept altogether. It’s not that I’m not intelligent, that I don’t have skills, but I’m not… I’m the person who wades into the academic world and splashes around in it, not the one who sails out into the ocean and studies the coral reefs or whatever. I’m a dweeb, but I’m not a genius.
My point, I think, is just that that’s a tough place to be but I think also maybe an important place to allow yourself to remain in and play around in and feel comfortable in. Because the problem with smart people, in my opinion, is that they expect everyone to be as smart as they are, and that’s just not how life works. If you want to feel superior to others, fine. That’s a normal drive to have. But the definition of being superior to other people is that the majority of those other people will not meet your standards, so the expectation that they would or even should just doesn’t make sense. See what I’m saying?
Like if I wanted to be an extraordinary musician, and then succeeded, but became extremely impatient with anyone who didn’t have perfect pitch when they sang happy birthday at my birthday party, that would be stupid and unnecessary and rude, and I wouldn’t have many friends anymore, except other exceptionally skilled musicians. In the same way, I think that often a lot of exceptionally educated people alienate themselves from anyone except other exceptionally educated people by expecting everyone they talk to to have “perfect pitch” when it comes to the topics they’re well versed in.
Basically what I’m saying is that… so… the reason I’m taking time away from social media is that I’m exploring other options for my life and figuring out if I even want to keep my channel public at all, let alone keep doing it. Because YouTube… I still love it. And that pesky optimism and stubbornness won’t quite let me give up on the idea that it can still be used the way I originally wanted to use it. But.
I moved to Wyoming to live with my aunt and be a “paraeducator” at a local school. Which means I’m sort of a special education person who works with students one on one within a regular class. So maybe that’s why all this stuff has been on my mind, because… some kids take longer to grasp fractions than others. Some kids have ADHD or autism or brain damage or whatever. But that doesn’t mean they can’t improve and thrive, it just means they need a different approach.
So I guess my question is… why do we all feel like we have to exist in the same intellectual space? And do we really have any hope of communicating across demographics and educational barriers and so on if we refuse to acknowledge that all progress is progress, if we hold everyone to the same standard regardless of their circumstances?
Like me, for example. Should I feel like I can’t talk about heady subjects just because I’m not an expert, if they’re still something I think about and research and a language I try to be as fluent as possible in? Should we only be allowed to talk about things if we have phd’s or can make other people feel stupid in the process of explaining something?
How are we supposed to have any hope of bridging the gap between “high culture” and “low culture” if we refuse to even try to speak each other’s language? What if instead of forcing people to learn like we’re performing a root canal, we actually took a look at what the purpose of education is supposed to be? Is it really more important to teach someone how to add two fractions than it is to teach them how to be compassionate and kind and conscientious? Can we really not do both?
There’s a vague political point that’s supposed to be getting pushed here, but I’m not even sure what it is. I guess I’m just saying the left and the right both have an addiction to dick-measuring, just in different ways. And in general I’m realizing that maybe my ability to be stupid and smart at the same time is more of a strength than I thought it was. Maybe that’s something the world actually needs more of, yuno?
Anyway. If you’re reading this, wow. I am very sorry. But. I figure this is better than compulsively tweeting and watching for responses because here the views don’t mean anything, it’s just nice to have a place to rant about stuff. Even if it never gets read at all, it’s just. Maybe it makes me feel less alone anyway, just to get it out of my head.
Pre-Script: I just want to note that I know a lot of my posts are like this, but this one in particular is more of a journal entry than a blog post, so I’m giving it to you… not really for any particular reason, other than I thought it might resonate. I’m not asking you to comfort me, or for solutions, I just… wanted to feel seen, I guess. Or thought that maybe sharing would help somebody else who feels the same way for whatever reason feel a little less alone. But as I always say, but often do, I’ll probably take it down in a week anyway.
There are feelings that are too big for words. Too big for any amount of tears or anger to put a dent in. There are wounds that are too deep to touch, to even get close to, with the scalpel of language.
But eventually, even those feelings, the way-to-big-to-fit-in-your-chest feelings, even they, given enough time, get old. If you carry a burden for long enough, no matter how big it is, at some point it just becomes your new normal. You don’t get a choice in the matter, it just happens.
It’s a matter of survival, it’s just what humans do. We adapt because it’s the only way we can survive. So we make our circumstances normal, no matter what they are, no matter how strange they are, no matter how different they are from what we’ve known before, because the alternative is giving up, and giving up just isn’t in our DNA. If it was, there would be no humans.
We are descended, all of us, from a long line of people who no matter how much shit life threw at them, no matter how deep their suffering was, they didn’t give up. You might call it a virtue, you might call it idiocy, or maybe just masochism, who knows. But whatever it is, it’s in us, all of us, woven into the fabric of who we are from the day we’re born.
But that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It doesn’t numb the pain, it just transforms that pain into our new reality, like we’re boulders rolling down a hill and bits of us continue to get chipped away until there’s nothing left, and then our story ends.
But sometimes you lose a piece so big that you can’t even really roll anymore, you just clumsily topple in a generally downward direction, and you can’t ignore it because you’re not rolling anymore, like the other rocks, and you’re moving unpredictably, now, colliding with and chipping away at the normal, well-rounded boulders, despite your best intentions. You become the boulder equivalent of a loose screw or something, and you can’t control it, but you keep rolling because maybe you hope that eventually you’ll be the right shape again and you’ll be smaller, yes, but at least you won’t be a safety hazard, anymore. And maybe you just miss what it felt like to roll downhill at a normal pace, in the right direction, without all the chaos and confusion.
Maybe you just hope, even though you don’t really believe it’s possible, that maybe one day you’ll roll over some moss or something that fills in the parts you lost, so that you don’t have to lose any more pieces of yourself just to become something resembling a sphere, again.
But more than anything you just wish you understood why this had to happen, and you hate yourself, you hate everything you’ve become because you feel that you didn’t get to choose, that something was stolen from you that you’ll never get back, and you just want to remember what it feels like to be whole. And you’re so fucking tired of making excuses for the boulders who ran into you, that they also had pieces missing, because their missing pieces weren’t your fault and you were just to fucking naiive to notice that they might want to try and take a chunk out of you to fill in their own missing pieces.
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t feel like me, anymore. I haven’t for a long time. And I see now that I never will.
I’ve been listening to a LOT of Lenny Bruce, lately… and I think what’s most consistently striking about him is… the lack of pretense? And I think that’s also what he skewers so relentlessly about human culture, the rampant and consistent use and abuse of pretending.
We pretend not to be sexual or have destructive impulses, we pretend not to think thoughts that are too strange to say aloud, we pretend to feel feelings we don’t really feel while pretending not to feel the ones that we do, and on top of it all, we pretend that we know exactly what we’re doing the entire time. It’s exhausting.
I see Lenny Bruce as someone who saw all of this and saw that he couldn’t live that way, so he just… opted out of it by creating a spectacle of himself, by honing his personality and experiences and perspective into something that really “cooked,” as he would say.
What’s scary, though, is how easy he makes it look to just exist as you are, while also being a kind of martyr, going through the worst case scenario of what can happen when you do decide to just let your mind be an open book instead of a well-rehearsed line from a play written by somebody else.
I guess those aren’t the only two options, but you can see what I’m trying to say, maybe.
The lesson of Lenny Bruce is that we don’t live in a society that actually values freedom of expression, but one that pretends to, one that tries to enlist all of us in its game of make-believe, where we all pretend to care about free speech and the pursuit of happiness, while most of the time really defining what that means fairly narrowly. We care about these things so long as they fall within acceptable parameters.
And no, in case you’re worried, I’m not about to morph into an alt-right “free speech advocate” – in fact they’re the worst pretenders of them all, I’d argue. They pretend to care about freedom of expression, but the freedom they’re referring to is their own freedom to prevent someone else’s, which is a blatant and shameful contradiction in terms. But because language has this tricky effect of diverting our attention from all of the salient information being conveyed, and focusing it rather on what the sentence chooses to shine the light on, well, you can get away with some pretty wild bullshit if you know how to light the scene how you want someone else to see it.
To value free expression, really value it, is to want people to be able to live how they want to, speak how they want to, without living their lives in fear. That means everyone – all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations…
I’m venturing into territory where I’ll just sound stupid, but the bottom line is: what we pretend to be matters. You might start by just trying to fit in or not make waves, but before long, if you’re not careful, what you pretend to be becomes real. But you have to really fight, I think, to truly think for yourself, especially in our society which is largely founded on coercion. Even today. Even now that they don’t arrest comedians for saying certain words. Those power structures are still at play in our world, I’m just curious how that conflict will play out. Is free expression really safe for everyone? Maybe what these “free speech” advocates are actually pissed about is that for once, they’re starting to get a taste of what it feels like to be silenced and shamed the way everyone who’s ever actually tried to push boundaries already was. What they want isn’t to be free to speak, but for the people who are actually free to stop talking.
I don’t know, food for thought. lil brain burp. duno.
So… I’ve been watching my old videos back. Actually, not that many just now, but I don’t have to actually watch them anymore, I feel like I’ve seen them all so many times already that just looking at the thumbnail refreshes my memory.
It’s sad for me, right now, to go back and… watch myself get older, I guess? I feel like when I started, I had no real concept of what I was doing, that I still don’t. Like if… if my life before starting a youtube channel was a pond, that by putting myself in the ocean I changed myself, somehow, and I’m never going to be able to get the person I was before back. That’s scary.
It’s scary for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I might’ve tossed myself carelessly into the ocean, but I’m still just a tadpole. And I’m scared of being eaten even in the smallest possible pond. And like, I guess in this metaphor it’s more like I’m in an aquarium, or something, and the people on the other side of the internet glass can’t actually touch me, but… they also can. Especially if you take this whole youtube thing to its logical conclusion, which I guess would be… trying to be a performer of some kind?
A lot of people have gone crazy trying to be famous – not just, like, in the pursuit of fame, although that also happens, but being hyper-visible in that way is a lot for one human brain to cope with, and a lot of people who become famous, whether or not they intended to, go crazy as a result.
And I think if one thing is apparent from my blog/videos/life in general, it’s that I’ve been crazy since day one. But I also never wanted this, I just felt… cornered. I was so alone before Brandon came into the picture, and then Gina, my ex-roommate who miraculously found me… I really don’t know if I can explain, or if you would believe, the depth of isolation I was facing at that time. Which is funny because I don’t even know if you can tell from my videos, I was kind of in denial about it myself.
It’s a hard thing to try and get my head around, let alone make it make sense to other people… but anyway, I was just… youtube was my only social outlet. And twitter. They were the only source of novelty in my life. So I didn’t think twice, I guess partly because I didn’t think it would go anywhere and partly because I spent most of high school watching other people on the internet act like it was normal to talk to thousands of strangers online.
But it really isn’t. And I’m not saying I’m not grateful for that outlet, by a long shot, because I would literally not be alive without it, I don’t think. I don’t know how I could be, because the bars of my mental prison were very, very real. And I’m still terrified of being… physically… of putting myself out there in a literal sense, and not just a metaphorical one. Because in my experience, that hasn’t ever gone well. Brandon and Gina actually happen to be two of the few people I’m not physically afraid to be around. I have this fight or flight thing and I just… I can’t really…
I don’t know how to explain that level of distrust, because it’s not to do with the person in front of me in the moment so much as it is the person, or people, who’ve hurt me in the past, and how completely – COMPLETELY – blindsided I was by their actions. I think in a few cases, they were also completely taken for a ride by their own actions. But that doesn’t change the fact that now I feel this profound sense of distrust, not because I think that people are inherently bad or anything but because in my mind, I can’t tell anymore whether someone is a threat to my physical safety or not. I just can’t.
So my solution is to just avoid real interactions with people unless I’m absolutely certain that I will be safe, but no one is ever actually certain that they’ll be safe anywhere, under any circumstances.
But for me, that isn’t something I can just ignore. The biggest fractures in my sense of security didn’t happen on the edge of a cliff or a foreign country or whatever, they happened in my friend’s back yard, in my own home. My trust wasn’t broken by people I knew I should be afraid of, but by the people I thought I had no reason to doubt. You see? And so now, everywhere and everyone are equally threatening. Which makes it easier, I guess, to stand on the edge of a cliff, so to speak, but it’s not for the right reason. It’s not so much that I’m brave to do stuff on YouTube, it’s that I’m so scared of everything all the time that by comparison, it doesn’t carry the same weight that it would for a normal person. Every risk, big or small, to me, I think… sort of just feels the same.
That’s a tricky paradox to play with, and it’s one that I think a lot of “performers” have wrestled with, but it’s really very unsettling to not be able to trust the calibration on your own ability to perceive and react to risk taking and danger. Does that make sense?
I also just get so tired of running the same rat mazes in my head over and over only to find that some dipshit scientist has made some minor tweak in the layout again. I’ve been over this same problem again and again from so many angles and with so many people and I’ve tried to explain why it seems so impossible to get over but I really just think that some wounds don’t heal, at least maybe they don’t in some people, and that it doesn’t matter whether my wounds were deeper than anyone else’s or whatever because the fact is that whatever chemical reaction they caused in me, I still can’t get over.
I’ve never wanted anyone to think that I think my suffering is more important or more justified than theirs, I just want. I want. I want someone to understand that the figurative monsters in my closet are as real to me as the air I breathe.
It doesn’t even matter if they’re in my head, is what I’m saying, the point isn’t that I’m afraid of each individual person I meet or try to befriend – it’s that I’m afraid of the fact that all of my deepest betrayals, all of the people who hurt me the most, were people I thought I could trust, who I’d trusted for years, in some cases, who I never would have guessed could hurt me the way that they did in a thousand years, but then it happened. And yes, with at least two of them, I should’ve seen it coming. But “should have” is a pretty shitty and loaded phrase, and the point isn’t… let’s see.
The point is, if I’m a turtle and I have to decide under uncertain conditions whether to poke my head out of my shell, it only takes a few sharks trying to bite your head off to make a gal think “you know what, I think I’m going to just live my life from inside the shell, from now on.”
I always did like the dark, and silence. Getting migraines, I guess, made me associate those things with an escape from pain. So I kind of dig my shell. I’ve made it pretty cozy for myself in here.
I guess all I’m saying is that being a turtle who tried to protect itself from the predators in a pond by diving face first into the ocean… is a pretty ludicrous predicament to find oneself in, even if from my point of view, it seemed completely rational, at the time. So now, when I watch my old videos, I see a turtle who was not yet aware that where she ended up was, in fact, the ocean, not just a different pond.
But I guess maybe the other thing I’ve been realizing is that nobody ever really escapes from the ocean, anyway.
We just convince ourselves that we can so we don’t have to think about the predators we can’t see, so we can not just poke our heads out, but keep them out for long enough to do the things that make life worth living, presumably. Eating. Talking to other turtles. Looking at other sea creatures. Whatever else turtles do…
I guess. I guess my question is that it seems to me that a confident turtle is a dead turtle. You know? Have I taken the metaphor too far? I’ve honestly always related to turtles, so it felt like the right way to vent my frustrations with my current… stupid… life… predicament…?
I’ve had this reminder on my wall for probably over a year, now, that says “just do what you can.” I try to write such reminders when I’m feeling positive and motivated so that when I inevitably slide back into feelings of powerlessness and pointlessness, I’ll at least still be surrounded by little notes from my past self reminding me to stop agonizing and self-flagellating*, and focus on what’s right in front of me.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard. And especially now with my whole youtube thing, I often feel really exposed and vulnerable and stupid, and… even though I KNOW deep down that my strength is precisely that I am so good at being vulnerable, that doesn’t always make it easy. My “courage to create”** only comes in moments. The rest of the time, I’m still scared, and even if I can see why the version of me that made or did the thing that was vulnerable, I don’t feel like I am that person. I just feel exposed.
I think that deep down we all feel like we’re not enough, no matter what. I think it’s just a part of life – you can become more comfortable with yourself, but life just is discomfort. Having a self means being self-conscious, and being self-conscious means never feeling like you are as good as you should be, or as good as the next guy. These days most of my self-consciousness is wrapped up in my creativity – not that I’m not as successful as I want to be on youtube, that part actually has stopped bothering me almost completely. But it bothers me that I’m not as informed or intelligent or well-spoken as so many people on the internet, and ever since Peter Coffin shared my video*** my anxiety has taken the form of comparing myself to youtubers who actually make a difference. Peter Coffin, Contrapoints, HBomberguy, PhilosophyTube, Mexie, Beau of the Fifth Column… just yesterday I found this channel called Renegade Cut that completely blows anything I could possibly do on youtube out of the water…
I guess what I’m saying is that it breaks my heart, a little, that I can’t be those guys. I’m not smart enough, hell, I don’t even know if I have enough conviction, I’m definitely not informed or well spoken enough to do the kind of stuff that they do (and nowhere CLOSE as far as editing goes, obviously). And I guess I feel so undeserving of what I perceive as this, like, incredibly kind and generous favor that Peter Coffin did for me by, like, associating himself at ALL with my channel, because I have no idea what kind of youtuber I am, or could be, or whatever, but I know for goddam certain that I will never be as skilled at it as he is, that I’ll never even come close to him either in terms of content or ideology because that just isn’t something I think that I CAN do.
Those people, though, I guess, are so good at what they do because they, too, are just doing what they can. It’s just that their capabilities are different from mine. As I said in my incredibly ill-advised “rap” –
Yeah I can act a little dumb, but I’ve got a lot of heart & I learned a thing or two from my main man Sartre: #1 is it’s important to be your real self, #2 is you should never put your feelings on the shelf
I am good at very few things, but I know for certain that I am VERY good at being authentic, and at being vulnerable. And embarrassing myself.
What can be hard, what will probably always be hard for me to accept, is that I will never be good at being anyone else. I will never be the “serious youtuber.” I will never be able to present my ideas and opinions with the nuance and conviction as any of the people I mentioned above. Or lots of people.
But maybe that’s okay. Maybe youtube doesn’t need me to try and be Peter Coffin just to feel like I deserve the validation he gave me. Maybe I’m just the girl who humps teddy bears and cries and tweets too much, and occasionally makes videos that aren’t just dumb and silly. Maybe I’m just the girl who’s there to show other people that you don’t always have to know what you’re doing, but you do have to try, and you have to keep trying even when you feel completely empty and worthless and hopeless and lost, even when you hate yourself and you feel like giving up and changing your name and disappearing into the wilderness to wait for the world to burn…
The world needs about 50,000 more Peter Coffins. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also need you, even if you haven’t yet figured out what for. There are things that you CAN do, even if they’re small things, or stupid things, or reckless things, or silly things. The older I get, the more I think that being a good person isn’t about what you actually do – not that the results aren’t important – but I think that being a good person is mostly about trying to be. We’re all broken, we’re all shitty, we all do things we regret, and have flaws, blind-spots, and so on… but if you try to judge yourself based on the fruits of your labor alone, odds are you’ll wind up feeling discouraged and wanting to give up altogether, the same way you would if you played all the way to the final level of a game before the computer crashed and undid all your progress. Honestly, that’s kind of where I’ve been at, lately.
But if you judge yourself by the effort you put into being a good person, or at least a better person, then it doesn’t matter what level you get to. Even if the game glitches out a thousand times and you have to live in this Sisyphean gaming nightmare**** – the computer can’t delete your effort. It can’t delete the journey you took, even if you have to repeat that journey a thousand times. Even if you take one step forward and two steps back, you still took that step forward.
That counts. It all counts. Even if all you can do is show up and play the game one more time, that counts. All that matters – all you can do, is what you can do. To expect more from yourself is just setting yourself up to be miserable.
* hilarious sidenote: definitely typed “flatulating” the first time. Really thankful that autocorrect had my back on that one…………… ** a book I highly recommend despite the fact that (as with a shameful number of other books that I own) I have only read the first chapter *** which was obviously an incredible ego-boost, as well, I’m not saying this is where my anxiety is coming from now, just the focal point it organizes itself around lately **** OH MY GOD IS THIS A GAME ALREADY I HOPE IT IS***** ***** it is, but I’m not going to download it to be honest, because… now that I think about it, that sounds… depressing…