Today I received an email from a YouTube fan.
Long story short, my YouTube channel resembled a channel that he himself had been wanting to build for a long time, yet lacked the motivation, discipline, or focus to ever materialize. He voiced concerns about not being able to sit down and learn editing programs, not being able to learn how to film properly, and constantly finding reasons to avoid doing the necessary work.
I responded immediately, because 1) I was flattered and 2) I saw so many aspects of myself in the concerned emailer.
To begin, I do not see myself as a professional videographer or photographer. Yet I have received a handful of emails and direct messages from a variety of aspiring creatives all over the world – asking for advice, opinions, and secret nuggets for success.
In fact, I have no idea what I’m doing.
Which is exactly what this article is about.
I believe, with all my 22 years of knowledge, experience, and human interaction, that no one knows what they’re doing.
I believe that I will believe this at 33 years old, 44 years old, and 88 years old.
In my opinion, secret formulas for success rarely exist. The people we look up to in our own professional or personal domains are not greek gods. We are all human, people with our own doubts and obstacles, and a flawed system of information and philosophy.
But it becomes so easy to look at the big names in our respective industries, to look at someone doing something we hope to do in the future, and think “wow, they are perfect, they know something I don’t”.
Sometimes people do know things that others don’t, and can pass on helpful advice (don’t order the chicken at a steak restaurant). But a lot of times people pretend to know things that others don’t, and it’s really just bulls**t.
Because when it comes down to it, often the things that older, more experienced, more accomplished people know (that others have yet to learn) have nothing to do with succeeding in a specific trade. Usually they’re things about life in general – perseverance, dedication, trying new things, sitting down and starting, cultivating self confidence, and treating others with a friendly eye.
And maybe the most important thing that older, more experienced, more accomplished people know is exactly this:
No one knows what they’re doing.
There is no reason to be afraid to jump into your dreams.
Everyone has everything they ever need in them, in front of them, and around them, to achieve what they aspire to.
If we can remember, recognize, and live by the fact that we are just as capable as the people we look up to, we might realize that there is no reason to doubt ourselves, blame ourselves, or cower away from the things that light us up with passion.
Everyone starts somewhere, the folks at the top just have a better idea of how to live, work, and play. They recognize that they are not the best, but they can be. They recognize that everything starts with trying. They recognize that laughing at yourself, trusting yourself, and giving yourself compassion on the 3rd, 4th, or 50th try is essential to the game.
Fan: Travis, I run an account under the name ___ ___ and just today I found a notification from you regarding adventure and you’re channel link. I am not sure if you specifically found me or if you’re just broadly advertising; however I looked into your channel and it gave me a warm reminder of what I was trying with ____ ____ (Something I ultimately never created). I am a (below 20) year old who has been influenced heavily by social media, the arts, and my generation that revolves technology. I cannot seem to find my motivation. I thoroughly enjoy Graphic Design, Photography, Videography and pretty much all digital art; yet I find it hard to record properly, to learn premier despite my obvious passion for it. I find I want to do something one day and then the next I find so many obstacles in my way. In short I wanted to know how you came to learn Videography and Photography. I apologize if this email sounds extremely difficult to answer. All I want to do is experience the true beauty of our planet and share that beauty with others so they can have their life changed like me.
Me: Hey ____!
I’m so glad you reached out – first off, I want to commend you for taking the initiative to seek advice and information, that’s where it all starts.
Second off, I want to tell you that learning and pursuing your passion is never easy, you’ll have pitfalls and lose your motivation, or you’ll get too busy enjoying life to bother capturing (and editing) it. I do this a lot, as do a lot of other creatives – even the ones with hundreds of thousands of followers.
I came to learn videography and photography from slowly gaining interest – I would edit iPhone videos in high school, then stopped a bit in university, then picked it up again (especially when I realized how much I truly loved it).
And I want to reiterate the fact that I in no way produce or edit the amount of videos, learn the creative techniques, or pursue videography/photography to the extent that I wish I did, to the extent that reflects my passion for it.
I think step 1 is realizing that this is a part of life – don’t let it stump you. You have other obligations and always will (I’m assuming school work and getting into a university for you), but you can slowly learn Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro on your own time, you can film parts of your life here and there, and you can start editing together small videos – it’ll get easier as time goes by.
I’m sure it is difficult for you to sit down and learn these editing programs and how to put together a video because you seem to be interested in a lot of creative domains – I’m the exact same way, as are a lot of others. What you need to do is sit down and just put something together – it won’t look like the videos on YouTube that have millions of views, and it won’t look like the videos you dream of. But it will be something you can be proud of, and that can motivate you to keep making videos and keep learning how to better your artistic skills. Chances are you are going to have a lot of ideas for various creative projects as time goes on – the key is to sit down and try them (sometimes you’ll figure out you don’t actually want to go through with the whole thing, and that’s okay! You can still love consuming creative media).
I hope this helps! Don’t be shy to ask more questions or reach out in the future – I’m very happy to help you.
I guess what I want to relay the most, and what I want you to realize out of this whole email, is that no one really knows what they’re doing. People like me might seem like we have the secrets, people with millions of views or followers or dollars might seem like they have a special formula for success. But we don’t! Most people are just as clueless as everyone who looks 1up to them, which is a good thing. It means that there is no reason to be afraid to jump into it all – you have everything you could ever need right there with you, and right in front of you. Remember that everyone starts somewhere.