Previous: My Two Favorite Jokes
Next: I do this every. single. tuesday.



View count:3,711
Last sync:
I am getting is making me introspective...

So you're down here in the description, huh. Well, you should probably open up Spotify and subscribe to SciShow Tangents, which is a very good science trivia game show podcast!!!

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
Learn more about our project to help Partners in Health radically reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone:
If you're able to donate $2,000 or more to this effort, please join our matching fund:
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Book club:
Good Morning, John.

I've been doing some thinking about how I became me, which is not clear. But there have been important moments on that road.

I was once at a dance at a summer camp, for example. The thing about summer camp that's a little weird is that there's a lot of people who are young, young people, but they are not all the same age, but they are all occupying somewhat the same, like, social environment, which, like, looking beyond modern times, had to be entirely the norm, but these days seems a little bit like "you put the high schoolers with the high schoolers and the middle schoolers with the middle schoolers and the elementary school with the elementary school" 
I'm not sure what that accent was.
The important thing here, though, is that I'm like eleven or twelve and I'm at a dance and there are kids dancing in this place. And you should imagine me standing over by the benches, experiencing some second-hand embarrassment.

There's this other kid; he's maybe two years older than me, I don't know him very well, but he is a nerd. He is a big huge nerd and he is dancing way too... much. Like, it's definitely not, like, good dancing; it's not, like, fantastic dancing and it's--but it's a lot. It looks like he's working pretty hard at it (not that I knew anything about dancing). I knew, like, that you're supposed to look cool while you're doing it, which, what does that mean? Who knows. And regardless , it's been a long time. I don't actually remember what this could look like. I remember that I looked at him and I thought, "that's embarrassing." 

But here's what I do remember. I do remember there was a young woman who was older than me, like higher status that me, maybe sixteen years old, and she said to me in a very sympathetic tone, "I know I wish I could dance like him, too." And my entire life changed. Like, what? Not only did she think that he was a good dancer; she couldn't believe that I was looking at him for any other reason! She had misinterpreted cringe for envy.

So here's what happened. From that day forward, I was never anyone but my true authentic self and I did absolutely everything I felt I should do and everyone loved me for it! No, none of, none of that. What I did do is I took what she had offered, though I don't think that she meant it as an offering. I took it, and,  like, I believed her. I accepted her version of that reality; that at that moment, I had no question in my mind that everybody in the world felt the exact same way that I did about that guy's dancing. But she showed me that that wasn't true, and in fact, that she was impressed by him. And she was older than him.

So I did, like, start to take up more space and live through moments where I wasn't sure what everyone would think of what I was doing or how I was acting because, like, who knows? Like, who knows?! I let her be one of the voices in my head-- certainly not the only one, but one of them. If you go bigger, if you try harder, some people are probably gonna thing "Wow that is so cringe." But some people might thing, "Man, I wish I could dance like him, too."

Neither of those people-- the dancer or the commenter, remember that moment, I can guarantee you that because, like, I remember a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the moments of those years. Here's the real wild thing: They might very well know who I am now, because they've seen Crash Course or something, but have no idea that they met me in 1991! And yet, those two people, who had no idea what they were doing, I think had a pretty big impact on me, because, like, putting myself out there is not natural for me. Like, this is my extreme sport. Like, I like this the way that some people like jumping out of planes. I had plenty of agency into how to work with that moment. Like, this is not a story that is about me not being in control of my life, but, like, that's a really little moment. It was a very few words that I do think has had a pretty tremendous impact, which makes me feel... happy.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.