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Hello, lovelies. If you get these in your inbox I bet you didn’t expect two from me IN ONE WEEK! But here I am. Here’s the thing. I’ve been planning it for a while, but I didn’t know exactly what “it” actually was. But today I figured it out. And now it’s real.

As always, I have to begin with a story.

Last summer Nick and I started making regular content for our YouTube channel. I thought it was super fun. We tried all the different kinds of videos a person could try. People said they wanted more videos, so we tried making more videos. We tried everything.

At one point I did about five in a row that were just me telling stories. Mostly the stories end up involving my mom, the author of The Encyclopedia of Country Living. I like telling stories about her, even though I often end up sort of crying. And any stories that didn’t involve my mom usually involved my strong opinions, often delivered with a smile on my face.

I liked doing those chats. But then I read some comments saying that they wanted less of the talking and more of the showing and I thought, well, yes, clearly, this is a VIDEO FORMAT, so I should not talk so much and I should do other things. And then I didn’t think anything more of it. (Although, funny thing, some of those talks are still our most popular videos!)

Now, fast forward to this summer. For a couple of months now I’ve been feeling unsettled with the YouTube channel. I wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong, and it’s been a busy season so it could be any number of things. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood.

But now I think it isn’t that. I’ve been watching some very popular YouTubers, and I noticed a kind of bravado there, that most of the popular channels have in common. I used to think that uber-confidence was what made them popular. But now I think it might be what happens when you become popular. I think it might be a kind of thick skin, which you need when you’re getting hundreds of opinions on every single thing you do.

I love the connection and the good advice and wisdom that I get, but also with 30,000 subscribers I also almost always get a knee jerk negative. I have to sort one from the other. And I’m a very sensitive person. You know that. That’s most of what you like about me, to tell the truth.

I think since about the time I gave that TEDx talk this spring, I’ve been working on balancing two different things: 1) my softness, which is one of my favorite things about myself; and 2) my survival in a world where a whole bunch of people get to say whatever they want about me.

These are not good choices. I don’t want to choose between being soft and being safe. But the good news is that I spotted it. And now that I can see it, I can find away to get myself some slack.

I’ve felt for a long time that I should have a second YouTube channel, under my own name. But I couldn’t tell you why. I asked people once, if they thought I should have a second YouTube channel, and everybody said “no.”

Now I know the second YouTube channel isn’t for anybody’s convenience but my own.

I just need to designate a space as “no apologies” space. I need to designate a space as “I say what I think and if you don’t want to watch it just don’t” space. I need a space where I’m a complicated country girl and I’m an eating disorder survivor and I’m a person with a lot of feelings and, honestly, an extremely sensitive person…which is probably a lot of what you like about me.

Casey Neistat, who is a very popular YouTuber that many of you have probably heard of, made a video about how he gives no f****s what people think. I didn’t like the crudeness of that, when I first saw that video. (And for the record I didn’t watch it, I just judged by the title. AND I know that lots of my people swear, so that wasn’t reflective of what I really think about anything.) But I realized it isn’t just the crudeness of the words that I didn’t like. It’s also that I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be proud of not caring. I want to be in relationship. That’s why I’m here. I don’t want to ignore comments and I don’t want to lead with an edge and I don’t want to be thick-skinned. This is exactly all the reason why I write: in order to have a meaningful spark with readers. That’s always been my “why.”

But in order to make that work I’m going to be more intentional about how I take care of my softness.

That’s why I’m starting a new YouTube channel. I’m not hiding the videos. I do want them to be available to people who want to see them. But I want them to be available with the clear understanding that they’re not going to be super edited and if I have makeup on it’s only going to be a little bit of makeup and if I have a strong opinion or a big feeling or a hard story I’m not going to hide that. I’m not going to squeeze myself into anything that doesn’t fit.

The manufactured/consumer world would like to turn me into a product. But I know you don’t want that for me. And I don’t want that for me, either. I want to stay the real deal, with authenticity, even as I navigate the tensions between my value system and the methods by which I communicate those values.

The logistics are that my personal channel videos are going to be embedded on this blog. The Fouchomatic videos will stay up on the “videos” page, so they’ll be right here, too, but the personal videos will be embedded in posts. And hopefully they’ll come with nice messages or pictures that go with them, so if you don’t want to watch the video (and that’s fine, if you don’t!) you’ll still get something nice, just for you.

I hope for you all that you never have to choose between being soft and being safe. I hope you can spot that bad set-up coming a mile away, and make a third way for yourself. If you can, and when you can, you make the whole world safer for all of our soft hearts.

Love from the yurt,
Esther

This week’s video is on food AND responsibility…but most of all, on easing up.