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Don’t Sleep Yet, Follow Your Dreams Instead!

Don't Sleep 1VidCon 2015 was amazing! I actually went into the weekend and conference thinking that this might be my last one. I was feeling really stale in my content and discouraged by the last few years of ever increasing fangirl mania so I wondered if this would be a massive waste of time and money. I wondered if I would actually learn anything new this year since last year as an Industry attendee, I felt like I was really just having the same information I already knew shoved down my throat.

But I was oh so very wrong.

This was undoubtedly my best VidCon yet! I took a lot of risks this time around, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of them worked out. If you read last week’s blog post, you know I went from staying alone in my own hotel room to staying with four strangers and sleeping on an air mattress which is way out of my comfort zone. Obviously, since I’m writing this blog post, I didn’t get murdered in my sleep. I definitely learned that air mattresses leave you FREEZING in the middle of the night because your body heat can’t collect in the soft mattress to keep you warm, but as far as putting four people in one tiny room with one bathroom, we worked it out well. I got to hang out and brainstorm channel ideas with one of my best YouTube friends, The Josh Speaks. I only see him once a year, but it’s like we pick up exactly where we left off which is awesome. Now we just have to stay accountable to one another in our channel endeavors in the next year! I tried out VidCon’s new Creator Track and it was completely worth it! The panels were awesome and very focused on small time creators like me looking to grow our channels and our creativity. And the fangirls had to stay on the first floor! Hallelujah! I met up with a Madi 2 the Max for the first time for an interview on her channel and started a friendship and partnership that I think has a lot of potential for the future. And finally, beyond just the inspiring and informational panels, workshops and discussions with fellow creators, I also made sure to do fun things like seeing movies (i.e. Paper Towns and Insurgent), attending VidCon Prom, and spending Sunday at Disneyland making even more new friends.

Don't Sleep 2So what didn’t I do at VidCon?

Sleep.

Something I definitely didn’t do much of at VidCon was sleep. I started out well with 8 hours that first night because I forced myself to go to bed by 10 pm (especially since I’d been awake for 24 hours straight with the 3 hour time difference). But after that first night, it went downhill because there was always something interesting going on even if it was just a fascinating conversation. By the time I got to Disney Day at the end of the convention I only slept 3 hours beforehand and an hour between getting back from Disney and having to be up again to catch a flight. I’ve never felt my body rebel against me so much. When I woke up after that hour long “nap” between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM on Monday morning, my body just didn’t want to work anymore. I was trembling so terribly that I didn’t know if I was going to pass out, throw up, or fall asleep while standing. It was awful! It fortunately wore off by the time I made it to the airport, but for a while I was really wondering if I had finally pushed my body too far.

Even though my body wanted to rebel against my lack of rest and sleep, my brain kept telling me “But sleeping is a waste of your short but valuable time at VidCon! That’s the struggle for many people—especially creative types. We need a certain amount of recuperation time, but we also have so many ideas that we want to implement that we can’t always find the time to sleep! This VidCon, I definitely learned that I do have a limit when it comes to lack of sleep, but I also learned that I can push my body a lot harder and farther than I thought possible. I certainly hope not to make this a regular occurrence, but it made VidCon worth it this year. I feel like I really squeezed out every last drop of interesting, informative, and fun during my trip.

So I’d challenge you to do something crazy too. Get a little less sleep in order to have new experiences or build your dream. It doesn’t have to be every day for the rest of your life (since you have to sleep eventually or you’ll die.)   But at least for me, understanding that giving up a little sleep here and there for the sake of becoming a better creator and artist is absolutely worth it. Maybe this seems like a no brainer for you, but for me—someone who struggles with chronic illnesses—taking care of my body has to come pretty high on my personal responsibility list. But it’s actually quite liberating to not do it. To think about your dreams first. So don’t sleep yet, follow your dreams instead!Don't Sleep 3

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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

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When you’re reading this blog, I’ll be on my way to Anaheim, California for my fourth year of VidCon. I’m excited and nervous as always, but this year holds some even new adventures for this VidCon veteran. For the past three years, I’ve always gotten a hotel room to myself because I go alone and I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to meeting people over the internet and deciding to room with them. But this year with a hotel bill looking to be over $800 for a hotel farther away from the convention center, I started looking into alternative options. What I really wanted was to find one girl who would split the cost with me and we’d each be paying about $400. I’ve on average spent $500 for a hotel room when I’ve gone in the past. I was looking for just one roommate because I like the idea of having my own bed and personal space. And I would feel like I would be on equal ground with just one new person.

Well…that’s not exactly how it worked it out.

I’m actually going to be rooming with 4 other people, and I’ll be sleeping on an air mattress. This is going to be an extreme jump out of my comfort zone! Not only will I not know anyone I’m rooming with but we’re also going to be in tight quarters and I won’t have a real bed for 5 nights. Despite what you might think, I’m actually the least worried about sleeping on an air mattress. As tired as I know I’m going to be while at VidCon, I know that if I can create a little cocoon of blankets I’ll probably be fine.

But I’m definitely nervous about all the new people! I’m excited too because it will be such a different experience for me (one that I hope I will look back on fondly and not with horror). I’m an introvert. I like keeping to myself. I like having my own personal space. I like being alone and quiet when I have down time. And what I think is interesting about people and being social is that even if I were to room with four other introverted people exactly like that, we’ll still all feel the social pressure and anxiety to talk and have fun and get to know each other that first day when I’m going to have been up since 2 am and trudging through a three-hour time change.

What I really hope to learn through this experience is how I handle under pressure socially. I know how I work personally in these types of situations, and I always try to be kind to myself at events like VidCon. But with so many other people in my room and the need to get to know them because I’ll be living with them for nearly a week, I wonder how I’ll react, how much shorter my fuse will be, and whether or not I can keep my cool or if I’ll end the first day by crying in a public bathroom somewhere. I’d rather that not happen!

It’s all up in the air right now though. I can hope for the best. I’m trying to think of tactics to best keep me calm in case I need them. But I’m also trying NOT to worry too much about it. Because it is what it is. It’s going to be an adventure. Not all adventures turn out to be as good as you hope for them to be, but that doesn’t make them any less of an accomplishment.

So here’s to the next five days of adventure! Wish me luck!

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You’re Awesome…True Story!

IMG_3220I have a hard time believing that I’m awesome. I know inherently that we’re all awesome in our own way, but I can’t always convince myself of my own awesomeness in contrast to how easily I believe in other’s. Other people exist in a different category for me. I don’t place the same kind of expectations as I do myself. For me to be awesome, I have to be perfect. And for me to be perfect, I can never make a mistake. I must always be at the top of my game. I must know how to perform at everything even if I’ve never tried it before. I MUST BE PERFECT. Because AWESOME = PERFECT to me.

I know this isn’t actually true, but it’s really all I’ve known throughout life. Being perfect (or trying to be perfect) is who I am. And strangely, although I feel the least perfect of all time right now, more people than ever insist on my awesomeness. Even people I’ve never met tell me over the Internet! What craziness! How can they say I’m awesome when they don’t really know me? If they knew what I was really like they wouldn’t think so highly of me. This toxic thinking invades my brain whenever I receive a positive comment from someone. I tear down and annihilate anything that has the potential to build me up.

But I am awesome. Deep down I know it. Maybe it’s just whatever bit of persistent ego I have left that insists upon it. So even though I tear myself down, I also secretly tell myself how amazing I am. I think it’s a humbleness issue. It’s not a humble thing for me to believe in my own awesomeness. I have to keep that belief buried and only bring it out when I’m totally alone and can’t feel guilty for it. I don’t get these secret trysts with my awesomeness very often, but when I do I try to cherish them.

And I don’t think I’m the only person to share these secret moments with my self-esteem. I think many of us—especially young Millennials like myself—have a hard time accepting their awesomeness. Our society demands that we act like we believe in it, even when our declarations seem impossible. We all feel inadequate in comparison to our peers who pronounce their confidence and amazingness to the world without realizing that everyone’s assertions are just as steeped in self-doubt as their own. It’s a mess.

But for now, I’d like to make the declaration that YOU are awesome. I don’t even know you and I can say that because I believe we all have something awesome about us. Finding it really just relies on believing in yourself.

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Inspiration on Instagram!

Hello friends! This week I thought I’d share with you some fun things I’ve been investing time into over on Instagram. I made a pledge a few weeks ago to post more on the image-based social media site as another way to connect with my subscribers. But besides silly selfies and image catalogs of my daily life, I like making inspiring quote images and sharing my thoughts. I basically find myself writing mini-blog posts! So I thought it would be fun to put a collection of them here. Enjoy!

Permission to Fail

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Sometimes I leave myself paralyzed by fear of failure so that I can’t even do anything for which I could fail at. That fear of failure is devastating and so easy fall into. My parents never taught me to be perfect, but along the way I gathered that the more “perfect” I was, the less likely they would have a reason to be disappointed in me. (And man, did I fear the people I love being disappointed in me!) So I worked so hard to never fail, to always be perfect–perfect grades, never misbehaving, the highest honors–but at the price of not stepping out of my comfort zone. I would only do what I knew I could succeed at, but that doesn’t leave much room for creativity or growth! Sometimes you have to do things that you’ll most likely fail at. And keep doing them, over and over until you find you’re not failing anymore. Practice makes perfect, you know? No one starts practicing at their peak or highest potential. They always have a goal to look forward to. So today, I’m giving you all the permission to fail. (And I don’t mean, fail your classes…) Try something you’re afraid of or know you’ll fail at. You might find, it wasn’t so impossible after all! But even if it does prove difficult, know that it doesn’t define who you are. One failure, a hundred failures, doesn’t make YOU a failure when you keep striving toward your goal.

Happy Fourth of July

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Happy Independence Day America! I’m very blessed and thankful to have been born in a country whose founding premise was freedom. On social media recently, I’ve seen so many people bashing and decrying America and saying they’re losing their freedom because of various decisions the government has been making. But what they don’t realize is if they didn’t live in a country like America with the freedoms they have, they wouldn’t be able to cry out against their government and the things they don’t like without being severely punished. The freedom of speech is probably my favorite tenant of the USA. We take it for granted so much without realizing that our ability to take it for granted itself means that we have it. I don’t always agree with everything my fellow Americans are feeling and saying but that’s okay! Because I live in a country that can have differences of opinion without being persecuted for it. It’s only when we become intolerant of others opinions and try to take away their freedom of speech that we run into problems. Okay…End of nationalistic rant! Ha! Today I’m proud to be an American. #fourthofjuly #4thofjuly #independenceday #merica #proudtobeanamerican #redwhiteandblue #lumis

Create Adventures for Yourself

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“Create Adventures For Yourself!” It’s summer time and adventures are everywhere! But even if it’s the dead middle of the winter when the world too cold and gray and boring to think there’s much adventure out there, you can always find one. YOU are the adventure. So make every day count and everything you do an adventure of its own. You’ll find happiness in the most unexpected places! #adventure #adventurer #sunflowers #inspiration #inspiringquote #quote #madewithover #happiness #behappy #createyourownadventure

Think Before You Speak

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After hearing about the SCOTUS ruling on #MarriageEquality a friend said to me “Did you know you can marry a fag in any state now, Kaitlyn?” And I was really insulted because no matter your opinion on the issue, the use of a derogatory term like that is never acceptable. I understand that his statement was mostly coming from a place of emotional charge, but it’s still not okay to say things like that. Today’s challenge is “Think Before You Speak” because we all have moments when we blurt out things that can be hurtful to others because we’re emotionally in the moment. I don’t care what your opinion is on #MarriageEquality who still have to respect other people. Maybe that means not acting like a liberal jerk and taunting your conservative friends. Or maybe that means thinking about the comments you post online more so as not to incite any anger or say inflammatory things. The guy who said this a great guy. He’s just very vocal about his ultra conservative views and I respect that.any of the points he makes are very good. But sometimes he (and many others) lets his emotions get in the way of politeness and respect for his fellow man. I do it too! We all do! So today just think a little more about what you’re saying before you actually say it! #lovewins #scotus #gaymarriage #supremecourt

Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels

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“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I discovered #thinspo a few years ago and was appalled. I didn’t know that stuff like that existed: encouraging girls to not eat, think of themselves as nothing more than their bodies, and guilt and shame them for their choices. They were beautiful images with a terrible, haunting, and destructive message. I’ll be real with you. I want to be skinny. I’ve settled with being healthy and even that is a challenge sometimes with my work schedule and living situation. But I’d love to look like some of those girls in the images you’ll see for thinspo. But I don’t want to not eat or restrict my calories to 300 a day like some of the “diet” charts you’ll find. Because that isn’t healthy. That’s an eating disorder and serious body image issue. I don’t always love my body the way I should. Even though I know it’s important to love me for me no matter my size or weight or hair color or level of paleness. Today is challenge you to take a look at your body and health. Are you doing good and respecting it? Are you hating and hurting it whether that means restricting food or binging on junk. I think a bigger and better goal than being “thin” is respecting your body and those of others. #bodypositive #thoughtoftheday #skinny #fat #loveyourbody #anorexia #bingeeating #lieswetellourselves

Start Living the Life You Want Now!

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After a week of vacation, seeing friends, and contemplating life, I’ve decided on a new life motto. I’m not sure what it was before now but I know it definitely involved a lot of waiting on fortune to come to me and not going out and seeking what I want. Part of that comes from my upbringing. I’ve observed it being a very southern Christian thing to say “Wait on the Lord, He has a plan for you!” Which I believe to be true but I think the way I was interpreting it and many others do too is wrong. It feels like they’re saying to wait to do anything until God tells you exactly how your life is supposed to go. But how can that be true? I don’t think God wants us to just sit around waiting for something to happen. I think He’d want us to take action! To seek the life we want! We’re never going to get where we want in life if we don’t first make an effort to get there. And for me, that means to stop living the way I’m unhappy with right now even if it’s easier to stay in my comfort bubble. And to start living the life I want. That means doing the things I love and want to do more of like swimming and living in a new place and making art and being a better YouTuber. So today I challenge you to start living the way you’ve dreamed your life to be! It will seem impossible (as it definitely does for me right now), but I’m confident it’s doable!

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Do The Thing That Scares You!

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“Do the thing that scares you.”

And I don’t mean, “Oh I’m terrified of spiders so I should just go jump in a spider pit.” That’s different. That’s torture. Or sadomasochism. Or just BAD.

What I mean is that many times we hide from the things in our life that require courage. Or perhaps we don’t necessarily hide from it, but we ignore it. And boy, are we good at ignoring things!

It’s easier to ignore what scares you. That’s what your parents tell you to do about the monsters under the bed and the scary clown at the circus. Just close your eyes and go to sleep. Or turn your head and pretend he’s not there.

For me the scary thing that I’ve been ignoring and avoiding isn’t spiders or creepy clowns or monsters under my bed (although those sound much more manageable than what I’m actually dealing with), rather I’m scared of putting myself out there for my career. I love film. I’m good at making videos. Because of YouTube I’ve had to learn how to be everything on a production team and more than anything how to brand myself. But I haven’t done “traditional film” since college, as I’ve only been able to find jobs in sports webcasting and educational curriculum and promotional videos in my hometown since graduating. I live in a small town. We don’t exactly make a lot of feature films. Liberty University has had their hand in some feature work, but I’m very out of their loop and haven’t had a chance to work on any of those productions. So basically I feel really out of practice in my “traditional film” skills.

But my friend Alanna asked if I wanted to volunteer at a casting call for a film that she would be working on later in the summer. Essentially I’d be helping corral the thousand or so people that would come out for the movie’s open call, and I’d get the opportunity to meet several important people on the production and network and maybe even pitch myself for a position on the production. So what’s so bad with that? A pretty nice hook-up, right?

Absolutely! Except I’m very self-conscious about my people skills. And this would require A LOT of people skills to do both the job I was volunteering for (I’m pretty sure I talked to 800 people that day) and my personal job of networking while there. I’m also an introvert so I can only interact with so many people before my brain melts. (I definitely reached melting point that day!) But mostly, it’s a lot easier for me to NOT go. It was a two and half hour drive. I’d be missing church. I could think of a hundred other things I could be doing that day. And it would be easier to not go than to go. So why go?

It’s not that I didn’t want to network and work on a feature film for a day. I absolutely did! I knew once I got there, it would probably be all right. If I just embraced my awkward silliness when talking to people, I could probably win them over with a laugh eventually. I can be pretty endearing when I want to be. But it’s the getting there. The deciding to go that’s difficult for me. Once I’m there, I stick to it and make it work. I might be MISERABLE, but I don’t quit. I don’t leave.

I did that once as a teenager when I was at a student government conference. It was the last day of the conference, and kids were arguing uselessly over whether or not to pass a prostitution bill, and I was really sick so left a little early and went back to my hotel room with a few of my other classmates. Our teacher was SO ANGRY. I’d never had a teacher or adult that angry and disappointed with me before. It was horrifying. So I don’t quit once I’ve started something anymore. Instead, the problem is always getting there in the first place for me.

I’m a last minute bail out kind of girl. If I’m utterly miserable with the decision to do something out of my comfort zone, sometimes I’ll change my mind at the last possible second. Especially if it’s a situation where I don’t have any definitive connections to whomever I’ll be working with or helping out. But that’s not a very nice thing to do. And I SHOULD do the things that scare me!

But why? Why not bail out or never even agree to doing something that makes me uncomfortable in the first place? Why do what scares you?

Because it makes you a better person. You prove to yourself and others that you can commit to something (even something you don’t want to do) and follow through with it.

It makes you a tougher person. You took on something uncomfortable. You did the thing that you didn’t think you could do. That you didn’t want to do. But you did it anyway. You have to realize that you’re tougher than you think. That you’re different than you believed. You’re more than you gave yourself credit for!

It makes you a happier person. When you’ve done the thing that you don’t want to do and are scared of doing, you feel far more accomplished than anything normal or comfortable.

It makes you realize that there’s more to you than you imagined before. I might be self-conscious about my people skills and introversion and rusty film skills, but I slayed that casting call on Sunday! It turned out differently than I had imagined, but then I’d imagined the worst-case scenarios and probably not-even-possible scenarios so it had to be better than that. But now I can feel more confident in myself to do something like it and even something a little more daunting because I made it through this one scary situation. It’s like stepping-stones across a raging river. It’s slow going but still possible to cross. So here I am, one step closer to the other side of the river!

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A post-open call selfie. I was exhausted and sunburnt (although the Instagram filter makes it look nonexistent), but I did it!!!!