7 New Year’s Resolutions for a Kick-Ass 2017

I’ve flip-flopped over whether New Year’s resolutions are effective things to make. I think it really depends on how you make them, as in, how realistic and specific they are. General resolutions like “be less negative” or “be happier” without more specific goals don’t tend to work too well.

That’s why, this year, I decided to draw up a list of seven resolutions I feel are realistic and specific enough to make happen. Feel free to borrow, steal, take inspiration from, add to, or modify this list when making your own resolutions. I’ll likely make some kind of follow-up post or video in February, as well, to let you know how these are going.

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[Image: Old fashioned TV set on a table, surrounded by antiques. Blue-green walls in the background].
1. Stop Watching TV

I’ve already started working on this one, which is how I know it’s not unrealistic. It’ll be challenging, but worth it, I think. TV in and of itself isn’t bad, but my habits around TV consumption are. I just can’t seem to do it in moderation. It’s all or nothing, and when its all, it sucks up huge amounts of my free time, preventing me from reading, creating, or finding other ways to relax. I’ll still watch with friends and family sometimes, but the solo marathon sessions need to stop.

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[Image: Pair of reading glasses on top of an open book, which is on a Thesaurus. Stack of magazines in the background. Rest of the image is black].
2. Read Two Books a Month

This one is pretty ambitious! It also depends on me following through with the first resolution. I’m actually a pretty fast reader and tend to motor through books, particularly if they’re one of my main sources of entertainment. I may not get to two a month right away, but even starting off with one would be great.

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[Image: Screenshot from the top of Sage’s YouTube channel, showing their banner, profile picture, and how many subscribers they have].
3. Reach 1,000 Subscribers on YouTube

When I first started my YouTube channel, I set the goal to reach 100 subscribers in the first year. I made it to just over 300, which is very exciting! Though I don’t expect to be YouTube famous any time soon, if I keep putting my all into it I think I can reach 1k in the year to come.

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[Image: Shot from above and behind, people wearing grad caps and gowns sitting in black folding chairs].
4. Finish My Degree

I should be writing my final exams at the beginning of February. Then, I’m done. This will be a huge weight off my shoulders and a big accomplishment. Getting this degree has been an uphill battle the whole way. I can’t believe how close I am!

I’m setting this as a resolution in order to acknowledge the accomplishment that it will be. It should happen whether or not it’s on this list, but when I revisit it later, I want to be able to smile at this one.

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[Image: Yellowed grasses in a marsh, trees to the left, grey sky, and a long wooden pathway weaving into the distance].
5. Get on a Career Path

The logical next step after finishing my degree. It may not be the career path that I’ll follow for the rest of my life, but I’d like to find the first stepping stone for a career in something I feel passionate about. I’m already preparing my resume and a little video essay for research-based jobs, which I think I’d love.

Also, YouTube?? I feel like there’s something to that as well, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

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[Image: Stack of flattened cardboard boxes tied together, sitting on a table. Shot from the side].
6. Move Out

Once school is no longer in the way and I can start working full-time in a field I (hopefully) like, I should have the means and resources to get my own place again. I dream dreams of a one-room bachelor, and hope to make that happen at some point in the New Year. I’m feeling ready to reclaim my independence.

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[Image: Dusty, old keyboard of a typewriter, shot from above, sitting on a table. Black keys with white lettering].
7. Finish Writing My Book

The rough-draft, at least. This may be the most challenging of the seven, which is why it’s last on the list. Honestly, I think finishing school will really help, because with it I simply have too many things on my plate. If I could wake up in the morning and work on my book rather than a series of assignments, then I’d likely make much quicker progress. Writing an entire book is really, very hard. This one might not happen, but I’m going to try my best!

2016 has been a really hard year for myself and many others, but more than anything, it’s been a year of growth and development for me. I want to continue to use some of the tools I gained this year in the next, and I’m hopeful that some of these resolutions will help to make it an overall better (though perhaps not easier) year. I have hope!

What are your resolutions?

Note: All images are free stock photos provided by http://www.morguefile.com, with the exception of the YouTube screenshot.

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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?

Whoops, It’s Tuesday!

 

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[Image: Sage, a white non-binary person in a blue-and-pink wig with bangs, presses their lips together and makes a face at the camera, tilting their head to the left. They are wearing a sleeveless shirt with a green-and-pink flower pattern. There is a paint-splattered painting, part of a wooden cabinet, and a purple wall behind them].
I completely blanked on the Monday post this week. I spent the weekend with my friend in York and ended up taking a mental health day Monday because of a panic attack in the morning. I have a video coming out on the NFi Collab Channel this Thursday which goes into more detail about that.

I’m so close to being finished with this round of courses, my friends! Unfortunately, however, at this point I’m having a lot of trouble focusing. The closer I get to being done, the less I feel inclined to put in the time.

I made the decision last week to focus on putting out a video every Thursday rather than have a more random schedule where I make videos every 3-4 days. It’s not that I want to be making fewer videos, it’s just that I’m more interested in making high-quality content without getting overwhelmed. Apparently, without a schedule, instead of never making videos, I make TOO MANY videos. I get ahead of myself and feel pressured into starting another video the moment I’ve finished working on one. I worry that this results in making more, lower quality content as I spend less time researching, writing, filming, and editing if I feel the pressure to have it all done in a few days.

There must be a happy medium!

So, at this point, I’m focusing on putting out one video every Thursday. That doesn’t mean there will not be extras, however, as this week I’m making a video for my own channel as well as another for NFi. It’s just to keep me on a more reasonable track.

In case you were wondering, yes, I am playing Pokemon Go. I am almost level 9 now. I hatched a Pikachu today.

I’m not working on my book as much as I’d like to be. It keeps falling to the bottom of my list of priorities, to the end of the day when I’m too tired. There are just so many other things! I’m also not too sure about the direction I’m going in with it. Books are hard, friends. Books are hard.

I just started writing a report on the history of my reading practices. It’s actually quite fun and interesting, given that it’s a school project. I want to share some of it here, but I’ll have to wait until it’s been graded and handed back so my tutor doesn’t think it’s been plagiarized. You’ve got to watch out for that kind of thing.

Filmed a video where I read from the journal I kept while backpacking through Europe yesterday. I have OVER AN HOUR of footage where I just read the entries from England. It may be a series. It was interesting to go back in time five years to that trip, as this is my first read-over. I think I tend to romanticize it, as we do with the past and with traveling, but reading the journal reminded me that not all was sunshine and roses. I struggled with a number of things, from growing up to stressing over booking trains to not feeling confident in social situations. I even wrote that I was hoping the trip would completely change me as a person, making me more confident and bold! Poor baby Sage…

In terms of the topic of friendship, I realized recently that it’s really important for friendships to unfold naturally. Also, that I can be happy with just a small handful of friends. I’ve been trying to make certain friendships happen within the past few years that just have not. And I’ve been really easily, naturally finding friendships through my YouTube pursuits. So, I’m learning, though it is important put in an effort, you also just have to let friends happen and not try to make anything into what it’s not. Having something to bond over helps too.

Okay, so this blog post was all over the place. I suppose this is a pretty good representative of where my brain is at this week. These are the things!

Have a wonderful week, catch ’em all, and I will see you all again very soon.

P.S. My wig came in the mail and it is everything I’ve ever wanted.

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.

Welcome!

New Profile Pic
[Sage, a white non-binary person with short red hair, tilts their head to the left and giving a small smile, wearing a black-and-yellow flower-patterned shirt, with their hair parted to the left and a paint splattered background].
Hello, I’m Sage, and I would like to welcome you to my new website!

I decided to create a domain using my internet handle rather than my full name for, like, job applications and other adult life stuff. I also wanted to start a fresh blog that is more incorporated in with my YouTube channel and all the other fun things I do online.

I have two goals for this site. The first is for it to be a place that connects the dots of all of the things I do around the internet. The second is to put out weekly blog posts on a range of different topics, from LGBT+ issues to book recommendations to personal updates. In a way, these blog posts will be the written correspondents to my videos. For example, I may write about my love of amateur photography on Monday and then make a video on Thursday about how awesome it is to be able to share that love with like-minded folks online.

So, if you prefer reading to watching videos, then this is the place for you. Or maybe you just want to know more about the Sage-things, and that’s cool too!

Speaking of the Sage-things, who the heck am I? And what do I do?

I’m a writer and a YouTuber. I make reflective videos over here about being a young person, school, feminism, identity, jobs, art, traveling and everything else that affects my life. In terms of writing, I’m currently working on a book as well as various smaller pieces here and there. I tend to write poetry, memoir, and short stories.

I’m non-binary and use they/them pronouns. I’m queer/bi/pansexual. I’m white, able-bodied, and deal with various mental health issues. I’m on the cusp of graduating with my undergrad from the University of Toronto. Bet you’ll never guess what I studied there (hint: it’s quite obvious).

I love being outside and in the nature. YA audiobooks are totally my jam and I am not ashamed to admit that I still read fanfiction. I prefer TV over movies. I hate cooking but don’t mind cleaning. I’m addicted to coffee but still don’t know how to make the perfect cup.

I make videos here. I tumbl here. You’ll find photos of nature and some quotes here. Frequent posts and updates reside over here. I write articles here sometimes. My adventures with books happen over here.  And I even utilize archaic technology here.

I’ll be adding some of my old pieces from my previous site to a separate page so they will not be gone from the web forever when I take that site down.

I want to make my internet presence as accessible as possible. If you have any questions or concerns about this site, please fill out my contact form or send a DM to @herbdinoohno on Twitter.

That’s all for now! Expect another post next Monday.