I have never been a person who follows numerous people on YouTube.
This isn’t because I don’t think what they create isn’t great or exciting or moving, but maybe it’s because if I’m going to spend my time on YouTube, it’s usually to watch interviews of Benedict Cumberbatch to admire his cheekbones or watch people falling off ladders. And I never laugh if it looks like they have hurt themselves.
There is one exception to this rule however and that is YouTuber Charlie McDonnell.
You may have heard of him. He is from Bath, which I endears me to him immediately being only a train ride away, he has over 1.5 million subscribers and is truthfully one of the most beautiful, self-deprecating, honest, shy, funny and wise twenty-something I have ever had the pleasure to watch.
It’s not just the fact he has eyes so blue that looking into them is like willingly drowning in the Caribbean sea, nor the fact that he has Stephen Fry reading his credits at the end of every video, (you can’t make this magic up) it is because he is just an average Joe, trying his best in the crazy place we call the world, sometimes achieving great things, sometimes doubting himself, but trying really, really hard all the same. And his followers love him for it.
However, a change has come over our lovely Charlie.
His most recent post a few weeks ago is entitled ‘I’m Scared.’ It’s shot in black and white and Charlie’s first words are, “I’m not here to entertain you today, I don’t have the capacity to do that right now. I am here as one regular human being to another because I am not happy right now. I’m not happy with myself and I need to talk to someone about it.”
Charlie goes on to speak brutally honestly about where he is in his life right now. Making videos is something he is incredibly talented at and has been making them for years, but right now he is doubting himself and doubting how others will see him. Will they judge him, will they enjoy the video, but most importantly he says, will they like him? In all honesty, he’s scared. Too scared to even make videos anymore.
The response to his video has been incredible. Comment after comment from fans, friends and family telling him how much they love him, how he makes them laugh, how he has given them confidence to go out and do things they would have been too shy to do before.
These are the kind of thoughts that were whizzing round my head before I came to University. Would people like me, how would I appear to someone I just met, would they judge me on my clothes, my accent or my inability to speak for more than ten minutes without referencing Harry Potter?
Yesterday, Alison, in her favourite place (my bedroom floor, mug of tea in hand) said, “You know sometimes when you get really philosophical? You starting thinking about everything too much like, oh my God, I’m only made up of atoms and carbon and other crap! And, do you think we are real or are we just somebody’s imagination? And, what if actually, I am not at University at all, but a scientific experiment to see how young people react in alcohol, sleep-deprived situations?”
And that sums up the human race pretty succinctly I think.
We worry too much, we spend hours over-analysing everything, losing sleep wondering “Why the hell am I here and what should I be doing with my life?”
But you know what? That’s how every other person in the universe is feeling.
It’s a basic human need to want people to like you. It’s built into our genetic code – the need to be liked and accepted by people.
Being at University has given me a lot of confidence. You meet people who make you happy about yourself because they’re happy spending time with you. You can’t expect everybody to like you. But the ones who do like you for who you truly are, are the ones that matter.
I’m not going to pretend I’m anywhere near total, blissful self-fulfillment yet. I have decades left full of stressing, over-analysing and general questioning of human existence to look forward to.
So Charlie, and all my fellow worriers and jaw-clenchers, you’re great. Truly.You just have to believe it.
Just don’t end up like me who’s sleep-deprivation has led to heartfelt blogging at three in the morning. But you know what?
That’s all part of the fun.
Here’s Charlie’s video. If it makes you cry, watch his video on mocking Justin Bieber afterwards. It will give you faith in the world again.
Images courtesy of Google