Hello my friends!! I have started a YouTube channel!

I made an announcement on Twitter and I’ll probably make an announcement on Instagram and Facebook and things

And that announcement looks a bit like this:

And it’s fun and I’m proud of it and it reflects how I feel about the project!!!

But on my personal blog, I wanted to announce this project in a bit of a different way – a bit more personally 🙂

I’m calling this my B-Side announcement: I wrote a little essay in commemoration of this moment and its significance to me 🌸 Please enjoy!

1. The shadow

I start things and I don’t finish them.

I don’t do this with everything. I don’t have this problem with work, and I never had this problem with school.

It’s just the stuff I want to do for myself. Side projects, exercise routines, my writing. There are plenty of examples just on this blog alone: Pieces I was supposed to write, series I wanted to do, efforts that I started then never returned to.

Each one began as something fun and exciting! But I found myself stuck in a cycle. Every time, after I finished Part 1 of some project, “Part 2” would loom ahead as an anxious little shadow staring back at me. Time would pass, and I could feel this shadow growing from a little seed of guilt into a bigger and bigger cloud. It would paralyze me to look at it, yet this inaction was what fed it, what made it grow. This cycle would continue and the shadow would contort and compound until the next time I peeked between my fingers, I’d find “Part 2” had morphed into a black hole, a grotesque manifestation of my unkept promise. I would hold my breath and stare back in silence, for days, weeks, months, until the black hole would finally cease growing and commence fading. It would fade and fade and fade until it quietly disappeared, an unkept promise turned into a distant memory.

Another failed project. I’d accept it and move on.

I never felt like I could control the destiny of the projects that I tried to begin on my own.

2. Korean

My mom had always intended to teach me and my brother her native language, but my dad got very sick when I was very young and my mom suddenly had to find work in an unfamiliar country, leaving no time for such things.

The guilt of not knowing my mother’s language weighed on me until I was 16, when I took a Korean class at a community college. (It was actually taught by my mom! But that’s another story.) Finally I could start communicating with my mom in a way that had not been accessible to us before. However, the community college only offered first year Korean, so my language skills were still quite limited, and I intended to continue my studies in college.

In my freshman year in college, I took one class of second year Korean, then the teacher banned me from taking the rest of her classes. To this day I don’t really know why. (That’s another story as well.)

I guess I could have studied abroad, but it would have delayed my graduation. And I guess I always thought I would spend some time living in Korea, but my 20s came and went and it just… never happened.

It had been a dream of mine to speak Korean fluently, but for about 15 years I had stagnated at the same intermediate level. I entered my 30s and I started to feel like, well, maybe this is the age where you have to start accepting that some of your dreams won’t come true.

Then about 2 and half years ago – March 2020 – I thought about how we were all talking to each other through Zoom windows. And I thought to myself, what’s the difference between me sitting in New York, talking to everyone over Zoom, and me sitting in Seoul, talking to everyone over Zoom? What does “immersion” mean? Can I possibly achieve immersion virtually?

I started looking into it, and modern language research says that you absolutely can learn a language when you’re older and reach fluency (*just not indistinguishable from a native speaker, but who cares) and that actually physically being in your target language’s country is not necessary to achieve fluency. The main thing is lots and lots of time with the language. Quantity over quality, just put in the time.

In March 2020, I definitely had time. I decided to try studying Korean again. I tried an approach that I had never taken toward anything before – I told myself, quantity over quality. I’m not setting quotas or goals for myself; I’m not going to worry about getting to some level of “proficiency” by some date; I’m just going to put in the time. I studied 2 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I have continued this practice (*though now reduced to 1 hr day, 5 days / week) for the last 2.5 years!

And in these last 2.5 years, my Korean has improved far more and far faster than ever before in my life. The newspaper is still challenging but I can definitely read comic books; I can write full paragraphs and sometimes I don’t get corrections from native speakers; I can have conversations with adults who don’t speak English and I love it, I’m not scared anymore, I love being in this language and accessing this culture and connecting with people who speak this beautiful language.

Fluency feels within reach, and for the first time ever in my Korean language journey, I feel in control of my destiny.

3. YouTube

Today I’m launching a YouTube channel about self-studying and language learning, and in part it’s exactly what it says on the tin: As I self-studied Korean, I had to figure out so many things on my own. I benefited so much from Polyglot YouTube and Study YouTube and the like, and I’m delighted to give back to this community that served me so well over these many months. I can’t wait to share everything I learned!

But I have another motivation for this. My success with Korean study gave me the courage to try for something I’ve long yearned for but have never attained: A steady, sustainable creative outlet. 

Why YouTube? I have no ambitions to become an influencer. I barely post on social media. I know nothing about video production. There are so many other things I love – I’d love to improve my writing skills; I’d love to get better at drawing; I like making zines, teaching, creative coding projects… plus aren’t people on TikTok these days? Why YouTube?

Well, at the beginning of the summer, I had an introspective journaling session that led me here. I wanted to explore a mode of expression I’ve never tried before – (video) – engaging with a subject matter I love – (learning) – on a platform (YouTube) where someone I don’t know could ostensibly discover my content. I wanted to share with the universe this thing, this set of skills that I learned over the last few years in studying Korean that has been so healing and empowering to me. And I wanted to try to do so on my terms, at my own pace, without artificial quotas or goals or timelines that might warp this outlet of joy into a looming cloud of guilt and shame.

With YouTube I track my progress solely in terms of time spent making forward progress. I have a notebook where I have been recording my progress since that fateful journaling session. I started this project on June 25, when I first searched YouTube for “how to start a YouTube channel,” and since then I’ve spent 100 hours on this project.

Today I have finished Video One. When I watch this video, I see the 100 hours that led up to it. It wasn’t 100 hours of grinding or pushing myself or screaming at myself to just publish something. It was 100 hours of take your time, there’s no rush, how are you feeling today, what excites you today, what are you curious about, what do you want to say, how do you want to say it? This video is completely made by me, completely because I wanted to, on completely my own schedule, and I feel… really good about it!

4. OK here’s the link

my channel is live!!! the first video is here:

and I’d love if you’d like and subscribe 🤗

and now might be a time too to look at the A Side announcement, if you haven’t already: https://arc.net/e/6F418884-3CC2-4FE1-B530-956BB8297F56

I am proud of this video, I’m excited to share it today, and I am excited to keep working on this YouTube thing, for however long feels right.

5. Part 2

I’ve reached this milestone before in past projects. Part 1, episode 1, the first in a series. The milestone I’ve so rarely reached is Part 2, episode 2, the continuation of the series.

I’m a little nervous, but my relationship with “Part 2” has transformed. I’m not focused on the next video so much as I’m focused on the next day. I’m going to show up and move a tiny bit forward. I’m going to ask myself: What excites me? What inspires me? What terrifies me? What am I curious about? What do I want to do?

I realize now that “Part 2” is not a shadow, but a light. I will not try to bend this light to my will. I won’t corner it and bully it and try to squeeze productivity out of it. Instead I’m trying to listen. I’m going to follow this light where it takes me.

Where do you want to go today, little light?