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Free to Be Me, No Apologies

Free to Be Me, No Apologies

In my series on the Morning SAVERS, I've talked about Silence and Exercise. This week I'm talking about Affirmation. (No, I'm not going in order. I apologize to all my fellow OCD readers who are twitching right now. I understand. But this is just the way it's gonna be.) An affirmation is basically stating a positive intention for yourself. I've never been one to really stick with affirmations, sometimes feeling like they're a little hokey. But this time around, I'm giving it a chance and I'm just repeating a simple one every day:

I am free to be me, no apologies.
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This is empowering because it reminds me every day to be brave and be myself. This doesn't mean I never change (quite the opposite really...it means I'm free to change if that's what I need to do) but it means that I'm free to really be who I am without making apologies for how that makes other people feel. (Again, this is not license to be a jack-ass. "Sorry...that's just me. I'm a jack-ass, no apologies." No. This is about knowing how you're wired and being free in that, not about behaving in a way that is harmful to anyone else.) 

As I was thinking this over today, I thought of someone I love who has had a very intense lesson on being himself, recently. My daughter Jordanne's boyfriend, Bobby Burns, is the kind of guy who has never really been afraid to go against the grain. He's incredibly creative and smart and he has been creating YouTube content for many years, by focusing on the kind of content that is currently interesting to him. He's an entertainer and much of what he does is satire, so people don't always understand what he's getting at. (I know I don't get it much of the time!) But he still keeps doing what he loves, which has evolved over the last ten years (understandably...as an 11 year old should be interested in different things than a 21 year old!).

He's done Lego-animation, short skits, comedy sketches, war films, sketches with puppets (yes puppets), movie reviews, YouTube reaction videos and most recently, what he's calling a documentary film style and some are calling "vlogging." (Vlogging is a video log of what's happening in your life.) Anything he does, he does well. He's very talented at shooting, directing and editing. It's why he developed a strong following at such a young age. 

Recently, though, I've watched him go through an incredibly intense time. Thanks to a reaction video he did about a particular conspiracy theory video on Shane Dawson's YouTube channel (Shane is an extremely popular YouTuber) and a subsequent series of collaborations with Shane, Bobby's YouTube channel went from having around 250,000 subscribers (which is a lot) to close to 900,000 subscribers (which is rather crazy) in a matter of a few months. Just as that was all starting to blow up, he made a video for New Years in a style that is more of the vlogging style, and he absolutely loved doing it. (It was also my favorite video of his...it's a style that naturally appeals to the storyteller in me...although I should probably take exception to my daughter being the designated drinker for the group. But I don't. Because I know it's a comedy bit and I think it's hilarious. And also because I don't take any of their videos seriously. It's entertainment.)

So he's started off 2018 doing more of that style video has been doing even more of it since they moved to LA where the sun actually shines and vlogs naturally look gorgeous. In addition, he's posting one of his videos on Shane's channel every couple weeks which means over 12 million subscribers have the chance watch and comment on his videos (no pressure). I know he's been having a blast doing the vlog style and he's had a lot of positive feedback. But he's also had a lot of negative feedback. 

And when you go from typically getting 30,000 views on a video to getting millions of views and 30,000 comments...that's a huge uptick in people giving you their opinions of your work. I have been told by many wise people not to read the comments on these videos.

I haven't listened. (Someone get me a Xanax!)

Yes, my anxiety is totally my own fault. But I care about Bobby and Jordanne and I worry about how they are handling all these opinions flying at them on a weekly basis. I know when I write a blog post I feel excited to put it out there and I love getting feedback, even tho only a couple hundred people may see it. And I'm happy when I get a comment or two. So, I can't even begin to imagine what if feels like to create something you're proud of and excited about, put it out there and then get feedback from 30,000 people...much of it rude and crude. (And unfortunately it's human nature to focus on the negative. Even if there are way more positive comments than negative ones, the negative can be overwhelming, especially at that volume!)

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So after reading many of the comments (I know, I know...I shouldn't do it 🙄), I have been amazed and impressed at the way Bobby just keeps doing what he does. It doesn't mean he's blind to feedback. He certainly has an eye on what his audience is saying (Although he wisely has other members of his team reading those comments otherwise he would get nothing done and would absolutely need a double dose of Xanax!).

But he also knows that he needs to be true to who he is. He's not the same kid who made Lego videos and he's not the same guy who did video essays on popular movies. A part of him is still the same guy but he's also grown and experienced new things and new styles and is exploring those things in his work. I'm so proud of him for continuing to place a premium on being true to who he is, even as he's still figuring that out (he's only 21 for goodness sake)!

I called him today to see how he's doing that. How is he continuing to create content that he loves even when he has such conflicting messages constantly up in his face? For example, here are two real life comments on a video from last week, which are pretty typical of the wide range of comments he gets on his work:

"he's a fake ass sell out now. Desperate for shanes audience who rejected him after realizing he's trash and completely pushed away his original audience by riding shanes dick smh. Never seen someone go from 100k to a million back to 100k so fast lmao defenitly fucked up the biggest oppurtunity of his life. And worst part is you know it's his gf making all the decisions and running the show. This kid hasn't been able to take a piss without her permission since they started dating."

Really? Yes, that's an actual comment. I know that one is somewhat graphic but it is representative of the kinds of things people feel free to say when hiding behind the anonymity of user names and free speech. And yes, the mama bear in me has to restrain herself while reading the plethora of ignorant comments people make, like this one which is ignorant, inaccurate, rude and on top of all that, the dude can't spell...but I'm restraining myself. Truly.

And then you have the sweet ones like this who truly seem to enjoy what Bobby is creating and seem to understand what he's going for with this style:

"I absolutely love watching Bobby Burns. The way he films/edits his videos is such a great way to portray himself and his friends. I'm loving the documentary film style. It makes me feel like I know Bobby on a weird "personal" level if you will. It's different, but so cool.
Keep up the great work, and congrats on moving. 
Ps: Shane is an amazing person for helping him out. 😭I get a little emotional tbh"
 

Bobby says it has been a very stressful thing to navigate. He says it's a "tricky balance of being confident in what you're doing without being a stubborn asshole." I asked him if he changes what he's doing based on the "crowd reaction" and he said that he takes it into consideration but mostly he just brainstorms with the people he's known and trusted before this all blew up. He knows those people know him and want the best for him.

That's a bit of Bobby's current story, and since I was writing on this topic of being free to be me, I really wanted to give a shout out to my "other son" who is managing this on a huge scale. I'm proud of him and Jordanne and the hard work they're doing out there in LA. I'm also very jealous that they live in LA and didn't have to drive through a white-out snow storm yesterday on APRIL 8th! But that's off topic. #imnotbitter #whydoilivehere

So what about you? Do you feel free to be yourself or are you still trying to figure out how to navigate that? Thankfully, you and I don't have thousands of people giving us their opinions on who we are and the face we show to the world. But it's still tricky. It's still scary. And sometimes we just need encouragement and a reminder to be brave and be true to who we are. Bobby is that encouragement for me, today. Hopefully for you too. 

Repeat after me, "I am free to be me, no apologies." #nojackassestho 

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