Looking back now, I can see that my anxiety stemmed from my desire to sabotage myself, to punish myself. My stage presence was getting better, my jokes were becoming more polished, and I was building a community of people who soon became friends. But I couldn’t help but find a way to undermine myself. A part of my brain would whisper to me: “You don’t deserve this. It’s not fair that you’re happy while Kristina’s ashes sit in your parents’ living room.”

I will openly admit that one of my biggest vices is YouTube. It feels so much easier to justify watching a quick five-minute video than it is binging on the newest season of Stranger Things. One video inevitably leads to another to another, of course, and I end up “wasting” just as much time anyhow. On some level, I chalk it up to “research” as an aspiring vlogger.

They say one of the best ways to learn something is to emulate someone else who is already doing it better. After absorbing their techniques and tactics, you can start to develop your own style. That’s part of the reason (or at least that’s I tell myself) I regularly follow the vlogs of Hank and John Green, for example, as well as “WheezyWaiter” Craig Benzine. Another YouTuber I enjoy watching is Anna Akana.

I came across Anna Akana on YouTube a few years ago, but only really started following her channel more closely these last couple of months. I think it was after an old Wong Fu Weekends video popped up in my feed; Phil and Wes were learning how to pole dance from Anna. She’s actually appeared in several videos with Wong Fu over the years.

Since then, I’ve been slowly making my way through her back catalog. Aside from some shorts that she produces from time to time, most of Anna’s content takes on the form of video essays. She tackles a topic of interest, acting out a skit where she plays all the roles. Some videos are light-hearted, like discussing her old roommate situations. Others, while equally entertaining and funny, approach much more serious topics. Like the time she got an abortion.

In So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister, Anna compiles a number of key life lessons and stories that she wishes she could share with Kristina. Her little sister committed suicide several years ago. Understandably, this has had an irrevocable impact on Anna’a life.

Getting to the excerpt quoted at the top, Anna discusses the subject of self-sabotage in the context of her stand-up comedy career. While I have not experienced what it is like to lose a sibling, I definitely do identify with this notion of finding a way to undermine myself. It’s just so much easier to recognize it after the fact than during.

If you’ve been reading this blog or following me on social media these last few years, you’ll know that I struggle with finding the time to do all the things I want to do. I complain that there is not enough time. When I do find some “extra” time to be productive, though, I end up sabotaging myself by getting lost on Facebook or indulging in just one more YouTube video.

Every terrible thing you make will get you one step closer to making something better.

We all have our vices and our shortcomings. We are all imperfect in some way. And that’s okay. We are still worthy of praise and success if we are willing to put in the work. It’s okay to make terrible things, because it means you are learning. And you deserve better.

In the immortal words of Anna Akana… stay awesome, Gotham.