by Alice Garner ’24 (she/her)

Alice holds an avocado for a video. Photo by Alice Garner ‘24

At the start of break, I was beginning to get bored. My parents’ being at risk for COVID, coupled with the fact that I am an only child living in the middle of nowhere in Vermont, forced me to brainstorm various COVID-safe activities to cover the nine weeks looming ahead of me.

Near Thanksgiving, I Zoomed with my old highschool friend. She was on the fence about doing Vlogmas for her private YouTube channel where she posted goofy, unlisted videos. I had seen Vlogmas before — a challenge YouTubers take on where they vlog every day of their  December leading up to Christmas — but had never thought of attempting it myself. I eyed my chunky yearbooks stacked on the shelf in my room. For my high school senior superlative, I received: “Most Likely to Vlog Her Entire Life.” What if I put that to the test? 

I didn’t have a professional vlogging camera; however, vlogging was always at the back of my mind. A challenge I made for myself in 2020 was to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, but I knew that to take on this daring task, I would have to keep myself accountable. The next day, I posted on my private Snapchat story to around 40 people announcing that I would be starting Vlogmas. Immediately, I felt a sense of responsibility for my “followers” and motivation to start filming.

For the first day of Vlogmas, I vlogged my day, and then I did “What I Eat in a Day.” The next day, I sat down for a brainstorm session on what kinds of videos I wanted to do. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. This mantra ran through my brain as ideas started to formulate. In the end, I planned a tentative list of about 20 videos that I knew I wanted to film and left the remaining four days to spontaneity. 

On Day 3 of Vlogmas, I did an “Exposing Myself Q&A” and then the next day a “Reacting to Assumptions About Me.” As a very transparent person in general, I didn’t find it that hard to open up in front of the camera.. Usually, I had some pointers jotted down in my notebook, but there were many instances where I went off-script and launched into topics that I’m very passionate about, such as comparison to others, social media toxicity, and authenticity. 

One of the highlights of Vlogmas was that I wasn’t filming for any monetary reward or for anyone in particular, but rather I was filming for myself. I could film whatever videos I wanted to. I pulled out my camera to make memories and not to prove anything to anyone. When I knew that I was vlogging my day or an aspect of my day, I instantly became more motivated and happier. I had a purpose. 

By the time Day 20 arrived, I felt extremely comfortable in front of the camera and I decided to make the leap even further into the deep end by making my videos public. By publicizing them on my Instagram, strangers, random people, and friends who were not-so-close began to see my videos. This vulnerability scared me a bit, as I put myself into the big black hole of the internet. Even though I was still filming for myself and to document my memories, I also wanted to leave a positive impact on my viewers, whoever they might be. Especially during this difficult time of the pandemic, my goal was to bring joy into my own life as well as to spread love and joy to others. Being apart from my college friends was hard, especially those from far away. However, my friend Chase, who lives in North Carolina, became an avid watcher of my vlogs: “Even though we can’t see each other every day, watching your vlogs makes me feel like I’m hanging out with you!” This small comment meant so much to me, as I had hoped that by watching my videos, people could distract themselves by learning something new. 

My biggest takeaway throughout the Vlogmas process, and one which I hope my viewers can learn from my videos (“Let’s Talk + Paint” and my “2020” video), is how to stay “genuinely authentic” to yourself. With social media pressure these days, it is easy to slip into a habit of turning your Instagram or YouTube into a highlight reel of your life and posting “just to prove” things to others. My goal with my YouTube channel is to project the same “Al” both on and off camera. I aim to show not only my lighter side, but also my vulnerable parts, including my insecurities and fears. Part of being “genuinely authentic” is showing my viewers that everyone is human. By working hard to be transparent and direct to the camera, I hope to show that everyone’s emotions are valid. It’s okay to not just project the best moments of your life. I hope to provide a space for my viewers to feel the same.

Alice Garner (she/her/hers) is an intended Psychology/Africana Studies major and Hispanic Studies minor from White River Junction, Vermont. She can be reached for comment at algarner@davidson.edu