Guest Pep Talk [Martha Caldwell]: Keep Calm and Love YouTube

keep-calm-and-love-youtube-6This No Excuses November has been a different sort of experience for me.  The last two years I easily picked a goal and knew exactly what I wanted. This year, I feel a bit lost.  Maybe it’s because I frantically changed my goal at the last minute.  My original plan was to give up YouTube.  I should now confess that I have a full blown YouTube addiction.  I discovered YouTube in its true “people get paid to create ‘content’ on a regular basis through channels” form a little over a year ago.  (I use the work “content”  in quotations because of the extreme variability of the definition of that word.)  Since that time, YouTube has become my primary brainless form of entertainment.  I watch YouTube more than normal TV programming.  I am subscribed to a lot of channels/creators and these 3 to 20 minute videos have brought me endless joy.

However, this happiness brought with it a bit of embarrassment. I am very aware the primary YouTube viewer is a teenage girl.  Most of the videos I watch are very dumb and as a result of this addiction, I have almost ceased to read.  I used to be a voracious reader and that was no longer the case. I missed books and I didn’t know if I could achieve balance without getting rid of YouTube completely.  On top of that, this new form of entertainment had me experiencing a lot of self-imposed anxiety about needing to be productive, well-read and cultured. I am unfortunately the type of person that has a really hard time relaxing.  I make lists and set goals and this YouTube thing did not fit into this mold. It felt juvenile. What was I doing wasting all this time?! My Type A self was ashamed.  YouTube is silly and it was time for me to grow up I told myself.  The original goal was born.

When I started sharing my plan with people, I noticed they were not as jazzed as I was.  The most vocal opposition came from my sister. My sister acts as a major sounding board for me and I look to her for validation and also honest, true feedback (even though that never always feels as great as validation). “If these videos make you happy and help you relax, I don’t see what’s wrong with that.  You don’t need to be productive all the time.”  I heard what she had to say but politely disagreed. Imagine all the time I would have without YouTube!  Imagine all the books I would read!

As I progressed closer to the Nov 1st goal, I really got to thinking about what it was I was trying to achieve.  If I wanted to read more, why wasn’t THAT my goal?   Ultimately, I sent a frantic text to Allison declaring “I just can’t do it!” and changed my goal to reading 3 books during November.  This past week, I’ve wondered a lot about whether or not this was the right decision.  Was my sister right?  Alison’s “Giving Zero Fucks” pep talk helped me solidify my answer. At a time in my life when I am trying to alleviate my anxiety, why did I think it was necessary to eliminate something that helped me do that? Instead, I could add an activity like reading that would help me get there faster.  I can find balance with both.  I need not be embarrassed of my YouTube addiction. Who CARES if it entertains me? Who am I trying to impress?  What I’ve learned the most this NoExNo is to evaluate what I want and why and to make self-care the measurement.  

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