Previous: An Ancient Apocalypse
Next: The People I Hate Most in the World



View count:173,421
Last sync:2024-07-05 12:45


Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "A Midlife Crisis." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 28 May 2024,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2024)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2024, May 28). A Midlife Crisis [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2024)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "A Midlife Crisis.", May 28, 2024, YouTube, 04:40,
In which John isn't sure what the point is, how to prioritize, or how to square the benefit people experience when reading a book with the benefit people experience when giving birth in a safe, well-supported environment.
Check out the crash course coin!

Subscribe to our newsletter!
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:
If you're in Canada, you can donate here:
Good morning, Hank.

It's Tuesday. A while back, I was at physical therapy getting my chronic back pain worked on, which is a very middle aged way to start a story.

And my physical therapist asked how old I was, and I said 46, halfway home, which is my standard joke when I'm asked my age. By the way, having a standard joke when you're asked your age is also very middle aged of me. Anyway, then I started thinking, you know, that joke, which was never very funny, gets a little less funny every year because you know, statistically, I am, of course, more than halfway home.

So really, for the last year or so, I haven't been experiencing a smidge of a midlife crisis. I've been experiencing a smidge of an early late life crisis. Now, there are many reasons for this.

Like, obviously, your little brother getting cancer will make you consider your life and work in an appropriately finite context. Also, my kids are getting older and my body is getting older, hence the physical therapy. And I've reached this strange inflection point in my life where I have some big choices to make.

Now, of course, I am unbelievably privileged even to be having such a crisis, both because it means I have some choices, or at least I perceive myself as having some choices, and because it means I've been around on planet Earth for a while, which has a lot of upsides. But lately it's been hard to know what I want in life, or at least how to prioritize what I want in life. And that prioritization feels increasingly important because I am very aware that I cannot do it all.

And also I'm increasingly aware of both the wildness and the preciousness of what Mary Oliver famously called “your one wild and precious life”. So, like right now, over 70 people work full time for Complexly, our educational media company, and over 50 people work full time for or Good Store. And while almost everything in those companies happens without us, they do still need us a lot.

Also, I'm really proud of what those companies do. Crash Course has reached hundreds of millions of learners. Goodstore has raised over $7.5 million to reduce maternal and child mortality in Sierra Leone.

And then there's the most important part of my professional life, Nerdfighteria, which has grow around hubs here and on Discord and Reddit and Twitter and other places. Making these videos for the last 18 years, posting stuff in Nerdfighter spaces, that is super important to me. I feel like it fosters really important connections between people.

Also, we get to do amazing stuff together. I just love it. Meanwhile, tuberculosis has unnecessarily killed over 100,000 people this month.

And I'm very engaged, both publicly and in private ways, in lowering barriers to access for treatment and diagnostics, and also to increasing awareness and investment in fighting tuberculosis. I'm also writing a book about the history and presence of tuberculosis, which will come out next year. And the truth is, writing is my greatest, deepest professional passion.

It is the place where I feel the deepest fulfillment. But it's become a smaller and smaller part of my professional life over the years. Like, between 2005 and 2008, I published three books.

In the years since 2008, I've only published three more. And that's not because I don't have ideas. It's because I don't have time.

The other work just feels extremely urgent, both because it involves so many people's livelihoods, and in the case of tuberculosis and maternal and infant mortality, it involves so many people's lives. Now, of course, I know these things aren't binary. You can dial up some things and dial down others, but like, you do have to make choices.

You do have to prioritize, especially when you become aware that your time is limited. Not just like the time of every day, but the time of every life. So, yeah, this is something I've been thinking about nigh on constantly as I more definitively enter the second half of my life - what will my priorities be?

And if you're waiting for me to answer that question, I don't have an answer. Hence just the smidge of a crisis. Usually Hank, this channel is about us constructing a video in such a way that the video has a point.

But the point of this one is that right now, I don't know the point. Hank, I'll see you on Friday. Oh, but there is one thing I have to talk about today that I do know, which is that the Crash Course Coin is available starting today and only for the next week at

You can sponsor 2000, 5000, or 10,000 Crash Course learners and help us keep the channel free for everyone forever. And get one of these gorgeous, beautifully minted coins. We have upcoming Crash Course videos in everything from biology to art history to world religions.

And that is only possible because of the people who support Crash Course through the Crash Course Coin and our Patreon. So check it out in the dooblydoo -