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…