Reevaluating the Resolutions

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[Image: February 2017 calendar with a large border of a multi-coloured flower graphic]. Source.
It’s been 2017 for a month-and-a-half now, and how am I doing with my very ambitious resolutions?

Well, they wouldn’t be New Year’s resolutions if you didn’t break them, after all.

I’d like to go over each one and be brutally honest about what’s working and what isn’t, as well as see if I need to tweak them at all.

1. Stop Watching TV

HA. Okay, to be fair to myself, I did do this successfully for a little while. And then I fell off the horse a little. And then I fell off 16 horses, a lot. Old habits die hard, they say, and this is certainly a habit that requires a hard death. I don’t think the expression works that way, and I’m sorry if that was confusing, but I’m sure you get the gist.

I want to keep this resolution the way it is because I think, for me personally, it is a positive thing to work towards. I know that I can do it – I just have to keep it up!

I think finding other things that relax me but don’t put me to sleep would help. Off the top of my head, I can think of podcasts, YouTube videos, and my dog. Yes, my dog! He’s actually so good at the therapy thing, especially when he tries to nip at my fingers or play chase around the house.

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[Image: Yorkshire terrier laying on a carpeted floor, on tum, head down. Part of a blue pillow next to them. Cloth and closet door behind them].
2. Read Two Books a Month

I think a more realistic goal would be one book a month, given the rate I’ve been going. So far, I’ve read Darling Days, part of The Secret Life of Bees, and part of Parable of the Sower. It was easy to motor through Darling Days because I loved it so much, but I’m a lot slower if I don’t really get into a book. I feel like making my goal more reasonable will mean that I’m less likely to give up on it, and I’d much rather read one book a month than none book a month.

 

Sorry for that wording. I swear I’m not a terrible writer. Actually, no, scratch that, I don’t swear anything.

3. Reach 1,000 Subscribers on YouTube

I only expect to do this over the course of the whole year, so the fact that I’m still sitting around the 300 mark is no big deal.

4. Finish My Degree

I did it!! It’s over!!

I wrote my final exam last week, and it’s super weird to no longer be a student, but also super great. I also made this masterpiece of a video after I finished:

[Video Thumbnail Description: Small fire lit by papers. Darkness all around. White text, which reads, “Goodbye, Sweet Homework” on top, in the centre].

5. Get on a Career Path

Obviously, I haven’t done this yet, but I’m working on it. I’ve already started creating a strong resume and cover letter, as well as applying to a few jobs.

This one is going to take some time still, but surely it will have happened before the year is out.

6. Move Out

This requires employment, which, as I said, I’m working on securing.

7. Finish Writing My Book

I have a different writing project on the go than the one I was referring to in this original resolution, but I’m pretty serious about it and am already a quarter of the way done the rough draft! I was right to think that finishing school would provide me with more writing time, as that’s exactly what it’s done. Looking at it now, this resolution still seems like a reasonable one.

Huh. I had the impression that I wasn’t doing so well with my resolutions, but this isn’t so bad. I’ve already completed one, and am working hard on three others. I only needed to tweak the second resolution, and I’ve only truly failed to follow through with the first. Okay, not bad! And as a plus, I feel re-motivated again.

Yay, resolutions, but more importantly, yay, lists!

Oh, and if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I committed myself to making two videos a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) on my channel at the beginning of January, which is what I’ve been pouring most of my creative energy into as of late.

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?

My Future on YouTube

 

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Screenshot of the top part of Sage’s YouTube channel, Herb Dino.

 

I launched my Patreon page yesterday. I was very nervous. For some reason, I thought that my asking for support might make people upset or angry. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m painfully aware of the general cultural attitude that we have towards artists, the attitude that says they should not be compensated for their work, and the attitude towards YouTubers, that says they should not earn anything from YouTube because it’s just a hobby and not a job.

But for me, it is a job. I approach it like one. It’s a fun and fulfilling job, that’s for certain, but I pour enough of my time, energy, and love into it that I do consider it to be a job. Actually, it’s sort of more than a job…

I’ve had ideas for other careers before but none have ever stood the test of time. I’ve thought, “I could do this or do that” but never really gotten too excited about it, never really felt like it was exactly right for me. I’ve considered being a forest ranger, freelance writer, actor, published author, librarian, copy editor, and professor. I’d think about each of these things for awhile and then move on to something else, never quite landing on what I wanted to do.

And then I found Kat Blaque.

Kat Blaque is a YouTuber who makes videos on a range of topics from feminism to institutionalized racism to lgbt+ issues. She also creates content for Everyday Feminism, the Huffington Post, and Pride.com. What’s incredible is that, after years of hard work and dedication, she is self-sufficient. Blaque is able to make a living off of her creative and socially conscious work. As I watched her videos, joined some of the live streams on her Facebook page, perused around her store, and went over to her Patreon page, I took in a lot of new information, and not just about social justice issues, but about how to support yourself while pursuing what you’re passionate about.

I remember thinking, almost immediately, “This is what I want to do”. I had no idea where to start or how to make it happen, but I knew that I had found it. This was the thing. I could tell that this was the kind of work that would make me feel creatively and intellectually fulfilled.

I got my brother to help me set up a YouTube channel. I started making videos. Save for some of his advice, I had almost no idea what I was doing. Now, six months later, I have (maybe) half an idea. I’m not “there” yet (what counts as there?), but I’ve learned so much and had a lot of fun doing it. My world has expanded. I’ve met and talked to tons of amazing people. I’ve discovered a new outlet for my creativity. I’ve been inspired by a bunch of fascinating content. I’ve started picking up some of the building blocks on how all of this works.

My channel is still quite small, but six months ago I didn’t even have a channel so that in itself is something. I’m not done here. I’m not slowing down. I feel like I’ve only just gotten started, that this is just the beginning of my creative/career-related/YouTube/online journey.

When I first started my channel, I wasn’t in a great place. I was in a lot of pain and there were a lot of things happening to me that I couldn’t control. I’m in a better place now and things are consistently getting better, but having this outlet really helped me through some of that hard stuff. There were points where YouTube was the only thing I enjoyed spending my time on, the only thing that was making me feel happy or even just okay. And now that things are better, YouTube feels like an old friend that got me through some really tough stuff. Now this friend and I are going to soar together. We are going to pursue our wildest dreams, not because they’re realistic or practical or anything, but because WE CAN.

“I can” is something YouTube has taught me. “I can” and “I deserve”. No longer do I feel like the least talented person in my friend group, the writer who “isn’t any good” at writing, the desperate and repressed creative with little artistic skill, the one who will always be frustrated, or the one who will never be good enough. I still have my doubts sometimes, but I’m on track. I have found my path and sometimes I feel damn proud of what I do. I feel confident in ways I never did before. I think that’s because, until recently, I had never really found “my thing”.

Here it is. This is my thing. I don’t know what it will turn into, but I’m going to hold onto it and keep on going for the ride of my life.

Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would support me on Patreon at this point. I put my video out there worried I may lose subscribers and thinking it would say $0 per month for a very long time. Within 24 hours of my posting it, however, two people pledged.

$4 may not be a lot of money, but it counts. It is something. It counts because it shows me that other people believe in my too. It counts because it shows me that I was not wrong to ask for help. It counts because it raises my YouTube-based income from almost nothing to $4, and that is growth. However small it may be, it is growth and all growth counts.

I want to thank the two of you who chose to become my patrons. It means a lot. It has reaffirmed for me that this is the right path and that it’s not all just some idealistic, unattainable dream.

I also want to thank everyone who’s ever watched, liked, or commented on my videos or the other things I’ve put out online. As a small creator especially, all of that feedback and support really counts. I’ve had comments before that have put a small on my face for a whole day. I’ve had comments that have sent home the “Yes! That’s why I’m doing this” message.

I cannot predict the future. I cannot see where all of this is going to lead exactly, but it’s going to lead somewhere. That much I am sure of.

Thank-you for believing in me.