So I’m laying in my bed right now, at 8:30 PM on a Sunday evening (night?) having just woken up after an all-nighter with Corrado Coia and Rianna Finch. With Rianna drawing, Corrado animating, and myself doing audio work, we stayed up until noon finishing episode 2 of our new cartoon The Apprentices, which is now live.
I’m not exactly the healthiest person. I don’t get proper sleep, proper food, proper exercise, or proper sunlight. I’m lucky to live with Tim Deegan, who constantly provides encouragement to break these habits, and he does so without making me feel guilty or like a loser.
I find that, as a video gets closer to being uploaded, it becomes more dominating. During pre-production and production, I can manage to keep myself at arm’s length, and stay sane. I can make videos while still maintaining a consistent lifestyle, while still being moderately healthy. But as a project nears completion, it becomes all-consuming. The last few days before a video goes live, it draws me in like gravity, and my orbit gets tighter and tighter until I crash. But then the video goes live, we let everyone know, and suddenly I’m free. It’s one of the most gratifying feelings in the world.
I feel very blessed to be able to do this for a living. Time and time again, I’ve been going through this process; different but the same every time. I love making videos alone or with friends, for myself or for other people. I started ApprenticeA Productions so I could invest not only in doing this for (hopefully) the rest of my life, but to enable other people to do it as well.
But what is it that I hope to get back from these works? If I’m putting so much of myself into this every day, what is the desired result? What’s the long-term plan?
It’s not about money. The means with which ApprenticeA operates is reasonable, yet not cheap. We’re able to get by every month, but it’s not as easy as it might appear, and no one here is getting rich. Joining ApprenticeA is a sacrifice, one that most people aren’t able to make. I personally lived a lot more comfortably before starting the company, and have made a lot of sacrifices to be able to support what we do. (Don’t worry, I don’t regret it.)
If it was about money, I probably wouldn’t have a company at all. Life is a lot easier when you only have to make enough for yourself.
It’s not about numbers. I’m the first to admit that views on YouTube aren’t great—not for me, and not for a lot of my friends. My main channel has seen a serious decrease in popularity over the past few years, and do you know what I’ve found? I don’t care. I really don’t. Sure, I’d be discouraged if I uploaded a video and no one saw it, but the difference between 1000, 10000 and 100000 views seems more irrelevant to me every day. If I’m happy with the video, if I’ve done my best, if I’ve challenged myself in some way, then I’m content. I get my validation from friends and family. I get my validation from the opinions of people I look up to. A digital number means a lot less to me than the people in my life.
If it was about numbers, I would pursue much more consistent content, appeal to pop-culture and instant-media, and spend way less time on videos. I’d focus on quantity instead of quality.
I’ll save some time here and highlight some other things I don’t think it’s about: fame, ego, pride, recognition, self-worth, insecurity, security, control, power, freedom, stubbornness, or desperation. I’m sure the list goes on.
So why do it? What do I want back? What am I trying to do?
I was talking with a friend recently (Mike) who helped finally put it into words. Saying it out loud immediately struck me, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind or heart since.
I want to use ApprenticeA, ApprenticeEh, my friends, my team, my videos, my money, my career, and my status to influence positive change.
Those are the words. Influence positive change. Everything I want to be and do. It gives purpose to my life, both online and off. To my actions and my words.
I wish I could say that I was this person, the person I want to be. I wish I could say that I never act selfishly, never make mistakes, and never lose sight of this goal. I wish I could defend all my actions and reactions. I wish that I never let anyone down. I wish that everyone liked me.
But then I wouldn’t be human. So while I am, I’m going to spend my life pursuing positive change, in myself, and the world around me.
"This is your life, are you who you want to be?"
This is who I want to be. Now I just need to go be it.