Clicking “unsubscribe” on stereotypes

Sydney Hembrough, Staff writer

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When thinking of the term “Youtuber,” what comes to your mind? Iced lattes from Starbucks? Target runs? Food deliveries? Forever 21 hauls? Collaborations? LA apartment tours? Modern-day Youtubers have set a standard for those looking to get into the industry, especially being a part of the Youtube community as a female. These women with multi-million subscribers all tend to follow a common trend: living a lavish lifestyle with access to a supportive, aesthetically-pleasing community.

Look up any popular Youtubers’ channels right now, and you would probably not be shocked to find out that one of two things are true about them: either they grew up in a big city or have recently moved there. This isn’t by coincidence. Creative-minded people prosper best when they are surrounded by either like-minded individuals or an environment that contributes  to their aspirations. When visiting big cities, it is not abnormal to see someone behind a self-held camera documenting their day. It also is not unusual to make a living off of their innovative channel content. Many Youtubers that we all know and love do just that. They are supported by a community that gives them opportunities to make what they love into a job – creating content for Youtube.

In a land far, far away from the skyscrapers of Los Angeles and New York City is Jacksonville, Illinois, where the corn stalks flourish and small-town values are held close to heart. While there are many reasons to support the love of a close-knit, rural community, it often limits those who want to think “outside of the box.” You rarely meet someone who has become successful in a job that isn’t 9-5 or supported with a degree in their field. If you see someone talking to a camera out in public, you can almost guarantee that they have either gone insane or are recording a life update for their daughter who is attending college an hour away. To say the least, my hometown is less than favorable to grow as an aspiring Youtuber.

Making creative, video content has always been a passion of mine. From the time I was six years old, I can remember recording “web shows” on my blue, plastic camcorder. I have always been a talker; ask anyone I am close to, and they will confirm that I always have something to say. The idea of putting myself out there to share my ideas with the world compelled me to start my own Youtube channel. Beginning as an outlet to share my ideas turned into something I never suspected. Since December of 2015, my channel has grown to nearly 9,000 subscribers.

My constantly-growing channel has become my inspiration to break out of my comfort zone and do something that I am truly passionate about. It has become a science. Figuring out what kinds of videos are successful at what time of year isn’t just the result of pure guessing. It is also an art form. There is much that goes into creating videos that people tend to underestimate. The hours I spend filming, editing, and planning videos is insanely too many. Being the perfectionist that I am, I want to ensure that a video is just the way I imagine before posting.

The only problem with my subscriber count is that very few come from around my hometown. In this community, it is very difficult to find the confidence to advertise my videos on my social media filled with locals. Due to reasons previously stated, being a Youtuber is not popular in Jacksonville or really any rural community. Finding the courage to be confident in what I am doing has been a inward struggle for me. I have many times almost deleted content or not posted videos due to the fact that I don’t receive the support from those around me that those in, let’s say, Los Angeles receive. Everytime I start recording in a public place, people look at me as if I am crazy.

As my channel has started to grow outside of my Facebook friend list, I have realized that there are people out there who genuinely enjoy my content.That, alone, gives me the reassurance that I need. Knowing that I am breaking the small-town, Midwestern girl stereotype and the stereotypes surrounding Youtubers is refreshing.

Another realization that I have had to make on this journey is to do what makes ME happy. Even though Jacksonville is not full of overnight sensations and Youtube gurus, that does not mean that I can’t reach for that. Even if I never gain another subscriber, I am content because I enjoy what I do. It gives me purpose and inspiration to be the best version of myself everyday.

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