I have watched two YouTube videos in the last couple of days and I can’t get them out of my head. The first is a TEDxTalk by Charlie McDonnell aka Charlieissocoollike, the second is a random vlog from last January by Casey Neistat. I will embed them both below, but first, let me explain.
I’m at a point of transition in my life right now. I’m changing jobs, I’m confused about the future both personally and professionally and, as always at the start of a new year, I’m just feeling a little lost. Trying to navigate my way through this confusing and stressful world is no easy feat. And when I say ‘my’ throughout this piece, I, of course, mean ‘our’. Our struggles, our stresses, because I’m not the only one feeling the pressures of being a ‘millennial’.
When I’m stressed, I don’t do anything. Like, I-can’t-get-out-of-bed type stress; I can’t face the day. Instead, I end up ‘watching’ YouTube/Netflix or ‘listening’ to the radio – anything that can buzz away in the background whilst my brain whirs at 1000mph flitting between my love life, my career, my finances, and back again, over and over again. It’s pretty horrible. And I wouldn’t wish this crippling anxiety on anyone.
During one such day recently, I watched Charlie McDonnell’s TEDxTalk and I was pulled up short, it quite suddenly stopped me from panicking. Let’s rewind a bit… Charlie McDonnell is a YouTuber, filmmaker, writer, all-round good guy that I’ve followed on YouTube since his early days. He is shy, cool, interesting, and most of all, human. He doesn’t put on that fake persona like so many of his peers do (unless he’s a bloody good actor!) which makes me trust him. The video entitled ‘How to unfollow your dreams’ was a fascinating perspective on the notion of dreams and the success thereof. Charlie spoke about how your past self should not dictate what your present self should be doing, and of course he’s right. It’s ok to change your mind, to learn from mistakes, to take a new path. And though the video is aimed at ‘youth’ as I’m the same age as Charlie, I can’t help but hear where he’s coming from. I felt like finally there was a counter argument, another side to those sickeningly upbeat ‘follow your dreams’ Instagram posts; it was so refreshing to be told the other side of the story, and so obvious in hindsight, a weight had been lifted.
If Charlie’s video had got me out of bed, Casey Neistat’s video got me washed, dressed, and ready to face the day. I am a huge fan of Casey; he is an incredibly inspiring person to me. I love his attitude, his outlook, his tenacity; if anyone is a poster boy for how hard work can get you places, it’s Casey. In his vlog called ‘Losers and Closers’ he talks about perfection as well as quoting a lot of Glengarry Glen Ross. He talks about how creatives can get so stuck searching for perfection that they don’t actually do anything because they’re spending all their time trying to make things perfect. It’s a common story for me (filled with anxiety), as well as many other creatives I know. Casey offers the solution of closing. Always be closing. Always finish what you start. This is precisely why Casey started his vlog in the first place: to use it as a means to create each and every day, to force the deadlines, to finish films and put content out into the world. And it worked, his channel has exploded and Casey is a better filmmaker and a better storyteller than he was when he started.
I have watched Charlie and Casey for years, and whilst I don’t think I know them in the sense of a friend, I do think I know them in their digital homes. I’ve witnessed their highs and lows and I’ve seen their integrity and strength in very different ways, and because of that, I listen to them. But what shouldn’t be forgotten is listening to yourself. Stop. Look into your heart and listen to what it’s saying. I mean actually stop, and think about what you’re doing. Are you moving in direction you want? Are you happy? If the answer is no, then make a change. Take small steps and eventually you’ll end up where you want to be. And even if in a year’s time you stop, reassess, and think you’re still not on the right path then just take another step in a different direction. As Charlie and Casey explain: there’s absolutely no shame in changing your mind and trying something new as long as you try.
Making hard choices in life should not be taken lightly, but breaking down big decisions into small ones can make it all together easier. Take one aspect of your life and make it better rather than trying to change everything. Work on things that you actually care about and want to improve upon. If they don’t work out, hey, at least you tried it, and no-one can knock you for that.
If you’re a little lost, then I highly recommend watching the two videos above. They have helped me enormously.