A Young Person’s Manifesto for Navigating the World for the Next Five Years or So

Screen Shot 2016-10-10 at 8.41.38 PM.png
[Image: Grainy picture of Sage, head-to-shoulders, in a black coat. Water and island with rocks and trees behind them].
1. I will prioritize travel over stability even though it is easier to prioritize stability over travel. Whenever possible, I will attempt to travel to faraway lands, explore exciting places, and go on adventures.

2. I will find a way to make some kind of living from my art, even if I am just living for my art. Whatever else may pull at me, such as school or a job, I will know that, above and beyond, at my core, my art is the most important.

3. I will perhaps find a partner but I will not marry them or have children. Marriage is not for me, and children, if they ever happen, can wait to happen after five years or so.

4. I will find a healthy community of friends who are real, true friends and who will become like family. I will go on adventures with these people and I will hold them close. They will be equally as important to me as any romantic partners I may have.

5. I will not commit to anything for more than a year. I have been tied down by high-school and then by university. Eight-and-a-half years have passed. It is time to embrace more freedom than this. Any jobs or places will not hold me for more than a year.

6. I will attempt to expand my compassion for people with radically different viewpoints from my own (from vastly different communities than my own), even if their viewpoints harm me. This does not mean that I will allow them to hurt me, only that I will continue to see them as valuable people with some goodness inside of them, somewhere.

7. I will prioritize my mental health over ideas about “success” and other people’s expectations.

8. I will live a radical, as opposed to conventional, life. I will figure out exactly what that means to me.

9. If I am unhappy and a year has gone by, I will move on. I will not worry about “climbing the career ladder” or working towards a comfortable future. I will move on.

10. I will not get bogged down in a “plan” for my future. I know now that you cannot plan for your future.

 

Note: Other young people, or older people, are welcome to embrace, alter, or otherwise use this manifesto.

Advertisements

This is Art. I am Okay.

I would like to make a video about this at some point, but for now, I’m just going to sum up some of my thoughts here.

YouTuber Abi (Abijean) has made a couple of videos, here and here, addressing this topic, and her and I have engaged in a conversation about it as well, so this is partly a response to that.

But it’s also a response to some of the videos I’ve been making and the feedback I’ve been getting on them.

I’m a very open person. I’m very open on my channel. Sometimes, I can get quite personal and emotional on my channel, and some of the emotions I share can be negative. As an example, I recently shared a poem about being lonely.

I tend to receive comforting words, hearts, hugs, and questions as to whether or not I’m okay when I share something like this. I really do appreciate that people take the time to do that. It’s lovely to be a part of a community of folks who show that they care about me in this way, and to feel to connected to other people through this platform.

But I want to make something clear. When I share something like the above video, it is art. I’m attempting to express myself and connect with other people. I’m not necessarily looking for sympathy or asking for help. If I ever do go to the Internet to ask for help, I will be very clear that that is what I am doing.

This is art and I am okay.

The above poem is true. It is a reflection of my lived experience. The feelings that I share are valid, honest feelings.

However, it is a poem. It is a piece of art. It is meant to be read that way, taken that way.

Sometimes, when I write poetry, I express some of the most extreme, intense, buried feelings that I hold within myself. Things come up in my poems that don’t come up in casual, everyday conversations. Sometimes these things come from dark, suppressed, closeted places.

I think this is completely normal and okay because art is all about finding a way to express what you cannot normally in your day-to-day life. Poetry can help me find the words for something I do not typically have the words for.

However, when I share a poem like “23 and Lonely,” I worry that I’m coming across as too negative, or that I’m “over-sharing”. Some of this may be coming from an internalized place, something that I’m projecting onto the situation, but at the same time, the pressure to always remain positive, happy, and light on social media is very real. I feel like I’m only permitted to make so many videos like “23 and Lonely” before people will label me as too negative, too emotional, too personal, and too whiny.

Because of my conversation with Abi, I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. In fact, I think a lot of YouTubers, bloggers, and other folks within the online sphere struggle with this, with balancing the negative with the positive, the lighthearted with the serious, and the undersharing with the oversharing.

Part of me just wants to say “fuck it” and share whatever I want, but I’m painfully aware of having an audience now, even a small one, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t influence the kind of content that I create.

In one of Abi’s videos, she talks about balancing authenticity and keeping an accurate record with thinking about her audiences’ reactions and the fear that one is “being too negative”. She concludes by saying, “Maybe I just put out whatever I want and whoever watches me, watches me, and whoever doesn’t, doesn’t”.

This is the kind of approach I would like to take as well. One of the main reasons I’m on YouTube is to be able to express myself and create art that is authentic to my experiences. Sometimes, my experiences are negative. Sometimes, I’m going to share things that are sad, upsetting, confused, gut wrenching, or just plain angsty. Of course I’ll try to provide content warnings where appropriate, but, fundamentally, this is my journey and this is what I need to share. You’re welcome to come along for the ride if you want to, but if not, that’s fine as well. Of course, I will always appreciate your hugs, hearts, and words of comfort. Always. But know that that is not why I make my art.

I make my art to express these sometimes hidden, hard-to-describe feelings. I make my art to connect with others who may feel the same way. I make my art because this stuff needs to come out somehow.

Please don’t expect me to construct an artificially happy life on here. I’ll try not to expect that from myself, either.

P.S. I should add that I rarely ever judge other people for how personal they get online. For some reason, though, I’m a lot more judgemental of myself.

P.P.S. Taking this conversation further, was YouTube not founded on “oversharing,” in some respects?