I’ve had a presence on YouTube since in some format since 2011. Around this age I assumed all the content I put out was great and would share it with people at school to the point of adding everyone in my friends list into a chat and sending out a video link to my comedy series “life sucks”, I did podcasts and even sang on YouTube on the same channel. My sense of embarrassment didn’t seem to be present.
This changed once I moved from secondary school to sixth form. The secondary school I went to didn’t have a sixth form or college component so this meant moving to what was seen as the “rival school”. I was no longer someone who could chat to the majority of people (I wouldn’t say I was popular though), I was now at a new school with only a friend or two moving over with me. I felt very isolated from the existing groups at the school who had grown up together through sixth form. I was quickly forced to reacquaint myself with a friend who I’d fallen out with badly just to have a familiar face and someone who was in the same situation. This adjustment pushed me towards the way of just wanting to get by and not to make myself seen by this well established group. I deleted my YouTube channel and stopped posting on social media. Our friend group sat hidden out the way behind the stairs in the common room, out of sight and out of mind. I couldn’t stay away from YouTube forever.
I loved creating videos. I decided to create a YouTube channel with some friends and it was a lot of work editing multiple peoples footage, I uploaded our antics and while our videos barely scratched a thousand views at most, they were ours. We’d watch them in awe. It was all done under an alias that no one outside of this trusted friend group would know. I also created my current main channel at this time although without any content.
University came around and I had long summer breaks where I felt I could make lots of videos. It felt safer to go all in with videos as University was so large that if someone found it they probably wouldn’t care. I would record enough videos in the summer to schedule videos every weekday until the next summer where I’d batch record more. This videos were pretty terrible, I assumed I was capable of doing great let’s plays and while I’d like to blame my technical abilities I just wasn’t cut out for it. I would never share these videos with those that knew me in person. I had a few videos hit high views for me, and there was a worry that they would be found by those groups from school.
It didn’t help that one of my more embarrassing videos was the one that hit 30k views and it’s still up today following a video purge.
Towards the end of university I had this idea to create a professional YouTube channel. One that would be deemed acceptable by the groups I’d see giving me glares in the school corridors or laughing and whispering while looking at me. The ones that caused me to become breathless walking the cold school corridors, those that caused my face to twitch and seize up out of anxiousness.
This channel mostly became a sizzle reel of trailers and tidbits for game development. Safe videos mostly without my voice that just showed gameplay. One that I could add to my CV for job interviews to show that I cared about programming outside of my course material. It worked, I think I was given an edge getting into my first software development job because I would work on projects in my spare time.
At some point I shared my more embarrassing videos (rants) with a few closer colleagues from work (these had been unlisted at this point). I’d send people I was talking to on dating apps them as a quick introduction to the weird person I was, people enjoyed the rants and asked me to do more, dates would go well and people liked the passion I had for my game projects and would ask me more about them. I felt I’d been so turned around by anxiety that I didn’t get the opportunity to receive praise and see people enjoying my content. I started being me and embracing the weird more.
I eventually got persuaded to livestream content on twitch and while this was extremely mentally draining to concentrate on so much and then edit them down into YouTube videos, it was fun while it lasted for a few months. I had people from work popping up in the chat, and while it did put me a little on edge about what I could talk about the support was great. Eventually I started doing devlogs on my main YouTube channel. These were and still are quite wooden in performance, delivered with a safe for work script and void of emotion not knowing who from my workplace could be watching.
Then one day in a game jam I decided to do something different. Game Jams are the only time I’d share my YouTube videos on Facebook, they were always linked to my “professional” channel so nothing embarrassing could be discovered. In my most recent game jam a few weeks ago I decided to link my personal channel and while it was a safe video, it exposed my main channel with some embarrassing content still lingering around, videos where I’d actually speak.
I’m still not at the point where I’d openly share my devlogs with the entirety of the work place or link my devlogs on my channel, but I did make it a lot easier for people to discover those videos. The more I’ve matured and had support from people the more I’ve realised those people glaring at me in the corridor have most likely matured and may even regret some of that behaviour. While I still have bad anxiety to this day I get great euphoria for several days after posting a new video and when a comment from a familiar face pops up saying “great video” it makes me feel less like I should be embarrassed with who I am and what I create.
Thanks for listening.