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Duration:04:00
Uploaded:2023-01-03
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In which John explores the costs and benefits of taking it down a notch in 2023.



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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023, which means, get this, Vlogbrothers just turned 16. Vlogbrothers can drive. Like Hank I don't wanna alarm you but there are people watching this video who were born after Vlogbrothers.

After all these years, I sometimes feel like making a Vlogbrothers video every Tuesday is a normal or natural phenomenon, but in fact it is a gift newly given each week. It is a real gift to be able to make stuff with my brother, and to be able to make stuff with a community I care about, and it is also a choice. I choose each Tuesday whether to make a video, and viewers in turn choose whether to watch it.

And I do sometimes struggle to remember that things I choose to do routinely are still choices, which is why every year I write myself two letters. One looking back at the year that was and one looking ahead to the year that will be to try to understand the choices that I'm making and be intentional about them. And usually in the look ahead letters, I set certain goals, like this year I'm gonna exercise a hundred fifty minutes per week or this year I'm gonna finish The Anthropocene Reviewed book or whatever. And historically I have a pretty good track record when it comes to accomplishing these goals.

But over the years, Hank, the vast majority of these goals has had one thing in common, which is that they involve, in some way, turning it up a notch. Write this book, start that Youtube channel, make this podcast, produce that movie, some form of "You know just take it up to 11 for a year." And often what I need in life is to turn it up, to push myself, to build my confidence, w-whatever. But sometimes Hank, sometimes you need to take it down a notch. And that's my only goal for 2023, just take it down a notch.

Like last year Hank there were several times where I got mad at a stranger on the internet and engaged in a debate with them about like, I don't know, whether or not access to life-saving medication is a human right or a luxury. And then I would be like late to dinner with my family because I was so busy yelling at a stranger, even though that didn't make my life better or their life better, nor did it expand access to healthcare. And what I wanna do in 2023 is take it down a notch, like for example, advocating for global health equity and better funding for healthcare systems without yelling at "First Name Buncha Numbers" on the internet.

Like some of you may know that many years ago, I worked as a student chaplain at a children's hospital and after doing that work, I got a temp job at Booklist magazine, just typing numbers into a database. In the first, like, year that I worked there, even though I-I am a very anxious person, I had a reputation for being calm under pressure because whatever was happening at the magazine, I would be like, "Well but it's, it's just a magazine. Y'know like it's important, I care about this job and everything, but like the magazine's probably gonna come out. It's come out for a hundred and four consecutive years." And that's the energy I wanna bring into 2023. My work is important, but it's not that important. Like you know what nobody thinks when they walk into a library? "Ugh, this place is almost complete, it just needs one more John Green book."

So yeah, that's my goal for 2023. Am I getting short with people I love? Take it down a notch. Am I defining myself entirely by work or worrying that the way people see me is more important than the way I am? Take it down a notch. Am I panicked about a deadline? Take it down a notch.

This is not a hospital, nobody is gonna die from neglect if this week's Vlogbrothers video isn't as good as it might've been. It occurs to me, belatedly, that this video might be putting pressure on people who do work at hospitals, which is certainly not my intention. Uhm, thank you for that difficult work that I bombed out of so dramatically.

Also I feel like if that young whippersnapper me, who 16 years ago had just made his first ever Vlogbrothers video saw this one, he would be like, "What are you talkin' about? Like life is about turning it up to 11 for as long as you can." But to that me I would just say, "Be careful what you ridicule my friend. For in time, you will become it. I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

Hank, I'll see you on Friday. Unless you're busy on Friday, in which case that's alright man. We're-We're takin' it down a notch in 2023.