After spending the summer mostly alone and in bed, my family got my friends together and hosted an intervention. They wanted to know what they could do to get me out of the house and into the world. I had no goals, no direction, and felt like holing myself in my room would help me come out with an answer. Totally embarrassed by the intervention, I wanted to prove to everyone I was okay to get the attention off of me. I thought if I could convince them I was fine, they’d forget about the issue and let me go back to the safety of my room.
One of my friends at the intervention was starting a YouTube channel and asked me if I wanted to come be a part of her film shoot the next day. My parents thought it was a brilliant idea, and encouraged me to go. Though I hated the idea, I wanted everyone off my back and agreed to come with. The next morning, I woke up and stepped outside for the first time in a few weeks. A little shocked by the brightness, I grabbed some sunglasses, a hat, and began my drive into the city. Arriving at the shoot, I greeted my friend with a false sense of excitement. Right away, she got to work. Like a spider weaving a web, she brought me through her storyline. Today, we’d be filming a love story, and I was the focal point of the entire film. “Ugh, this is going to be brutal," I thought.
The first scene, I totally botched my lines and felt stupid. My friend could tell I was nervous and encouraged me to channel my inner Meryl Streep. I laughed a little at that, thinking back to some of the Meryl Streep memes I had been reading on reddit the night before. I recited my lines once more in my head, then nailed the scene. My friend looked down at her camera, then back up once again, almost in shock, and said, “Mer, that was f*cking sick! Come check this out.” I walked over to her camera, totally nervous of what I would see. But there I was, acting, totally in the moment, crushing the scene. And just like that, I fell in love. Totally focused on weaving the storyline into something brilliant, we worked and danced throughout the day, moving around the city to create something from our souls.
I got home that night, and almost felt a little ashamed of how good I felt. Was my friend just giving me false confidence to make me feel better? I immediately hopped on YouTube and started watching some of the YouTube greats. With a better appreciation of what goes into telling a YouTube story, I became fascinated by it. I documented what I saw, who was great, what they focused on, and how they built up anticipation.
With nothing more than an iPhone, I spent the entire next day in my room creating a stop-motion film about my cat and his love for treats. It was decent enough, and after a few hours of editing on iMovie, I felt the joy of creating something from start to finish. My entire life, I’ve left things unfinished. It has eaten away at me. But with video creation, I could write a story, visualize it, and execute on it from start to finish. It took serious focus, but the end result was actual joy I could feel at my core.
I created a YouTube account, and clicked the upload button for the very first time. It took me a while before I felt confident to show anyone. But that wasn’t what mattered. What I realized was most important: when I focus on something deeply, the distractions and triggers of my depression melt away. It was clear to me that doing, building, creating brought clarity to what mattered and what did not. Who cares if I wasn’t the prettiest girl in the world, I had a video to create. Who cares if my family isn’t wealthy like the rest of the town, I had a video to create. No matter what the issue was, I had something bigger, more important that brought clarity to what I needed to focus on. Since my first stop motion video, I’ve created dozens more. I’ve even become brave enough to share them with friends or family. They could not be happier for me. So if you are struggling, and cannot find the inner spark, just try to create something. For me, it was a video. For you, it could be a painting or a birdhouse, or a meal. Express yourself consistently, see a vision come to reality, and you will find clarity in your world. Good luck!