With a growing YouTube channel, an active Instagram page and an undeniable passion for story-telling and travel, Nathaniel Drew is only getting started. Over the course of this interview, twenty-one year old Nathaniel shared his vision of life and of content creation with MayshadMag, touching upon the effects of physical and emotional burnout, along with the importance of challenges and pushing oneself in the road to success.
MayshadMag: Your YouTube channel, story-telling, and so on. It would be great if you could introduce yourself to our community!
Nathaniel Drew: Sure! I think the easy way to introduce myself is to say that I’m a filmmaker and a photographer and that I’m creating content online on the topic of mental clarity and, you know, I’m just trying to figure out a better way to live life. I think that there are lots of people that are lost and confused in the 21st century. So I share the things that I’ve gone through and that I’m going through. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do feel like I just love this search for the answers, if that makes sense. I’m sharing it with the world. So more than anything I consider myself just like, kind of a friend online, and I enjoy storytelling… But really, these are all labels that we give ourselves which I struggle with a little bit. At the end of the day, you need to present yourself somehow, you know?
MM: Yes, you need to have a kind of brand of some sort! So on your website and YouTube channel, you have videos of Spain and France, and you seem passionate about photography and film making?
N.D.: Yeah, exactly. My family is from Argentina, so I grew up in a multicultural household. And then, I had a chance to live in France. And so I think all of these different places that I’ve lived in or spending an extended period of time and has kind of like they’ve influenced me little by little. I started creating content a few years ago, actually, in 2015, and then I became burnt out and felt like I wasn’t completely proud of what I was creating. I wasn’t feeling inspired by what I was doing. Then, I realized that everywhere I looked, on all the different social media platforms, it felt like there was an extreme lack of authenticity, of realness. Social media really came out the past maybe 10 years? So I think we’re just learning, as an entire planet of eight billion people, how to work with this. So I’m trying to make it a part of our lives in a healthier, less superficial way. Then, I was like, wow, I feel like I can just share some sort of a different perspective and and I feel like people are really connecting with that. You know, it’s not always about showing how perfect my life, or how happy I am. I think people don’t want to feel so alone. They want to know that there are other people going through the same things out there. They want relatable content.
MM: Exactly, we agree with this! And how did you, or do you, deal with the “grind era” feeling, this attitude towards work that is all-or-nothing, and by this I mean this feeling that one must be working all around the clock to feel fully productive?
N.D.: Well, I will try to make this concise. Explained simply, I am always in the process of changing and growing, and I think this is something that we all go through. We all have to figure out our limits and what we’re capable of and what we want to do, right? So there’s no formula that fits for everybody. I can only speak from my own personal experience, but what I’m finding is that burnout is multifaceted.
So there’s the physical aspect: if you’re depriving yourself of your basic needs with regards to sleep, with regards to eating, and so on. Then, there’s also, in my opinion, emotional and creative burnout– and these are things that I’m discovering as well! I talked about in my burnout video about the fact that right now my life is pretty imbalanced. By this I mean that what I’m doing at the moment is not exactly sustainable, it’s more like the sprint phase. I’m trying to get a project off the ground, and I love what I’m doing and I’m definitely okay with this in the short term, but I know that long-term this is not something that I can do forever and I will have to figure out how to balance things in a way that works for me. So I think what’s most important in all of this is to have a discussion about it and to be bringing this up more often and understanding why this happens in our culture, why this is so attractive as, you know, a status or something to look up to– always being busy, having things to do, etc.
MM: So, for example, this idea that waking up at 5 AM and going to sleep at midnight, it’s not something you could see yourself doing in the long run.
N.D.: Well, I have to say this, I think it’s extremely important to push yourself, and that might sound contradictory, but I don’t mean that in a contradictory way. I think that you have to figure out where that line is crossed– the line will probably be crossed a few times and then you will figure out a way to stay behind that line. So, you will learn how to properly take care of yourself. You know, so for example, I took my first day off in several months and I realized that I really needed a much more than I realized. This was just a couple of days ago and this is just making me reflect on where I am literally speaking. It’s really a continual process. Our lives are dynamic, and if you’re somebody who is growing and evolving, then your definition of burnout and your definition of what well-being looks like to you will evolve with you.
MM: Thank you for that answer, it’s great! We are wondering now, what are the challenges that you faced while building your social media presence and while creating this content?
N.D.: Well, I started all this four years ago and there have been all kinds of challenges that I faced over the last few years, but I will tell you this: all of the very biggest obstacles that I have faced have been internal struggles. So, especially in the beginning when I didn’t feel like I was getting the traction or the attention that I deserved, I struggled with envy. I was watching creators like Casey Neistat, who was a big another big inspiration for me, and you know, he would get a million views every single video and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get past a couple hundred! That was a mindset that was unhealthy and, fortunately, I feel like with time, experience, and maturity you can you can grow out of that. I’ve also struggled with having doubts, see, especially if you are a creator that is constantly seeking to push the boundaries, you’re going to have doubts about your work because there’s always room to improve and always room to have a bigger impact; there isn’t really a clear road map. It’s so subjective and so unclear for so many of us.
MM: Interesting. So envy and doubt, those are some that we do not often hear, but it’s very raw and honest, great! On the same line of ideas, you also talk about mental clarity often. Is this a major theme in the content you create?
N.D.: Absolutely. I think that my search for mental clarity has been naturally leading me in that direction, you know, you start to peel away the layers and you realize that there’s a lot more internal work to be done and that you cannot live a life of mental clarity if internally, it’s complete chaos. You can be more internally at peace with yourself, more internally aware of who you are, if that makes sense.
Once again, I’m just sharing my experience and what I’m going through but again, I think that that is one of my biggest strengths because by approaching things that way, I think I make topics like spirituality a little bit more approachable. It just seems like this huge topic that can sometimes be scary or foreign or misunderstood and I just think that if I can help people realize that it doesn’t have to be any of those things. I think that the link between spirituality and religion can sometimes make things seem unapproachable. I definitely talk about spirituality without religion in this case. There are a lot of very confusing or difficult-to-understand concepts, you know, such as this idea of ego, and just wrapping your head around the fact that you aren’t your thoughts. You aren’t all these things that we identify with these labels, these categories would give ourselves.
MM: That’s great, it’s definitely something interesting to look into. Now a final question as we don’t want to take too much of your time, what would be a tip you would like to give to someone who is thinking about doing what you are doing?
N.D.: My advice would be simple: nobody has it totally figured out. Most of us don’t even have it very figured out at all. I mean this whole thing that we call life is a process, and I think that, if you can have a mindset and a mentality of curiosity and of not treating mistakes like failures but more as opportunities. This kind of mindset can take you very far and it’s easy to lose sight of that. It’s easy to forget these things, but I’m finding through my content creation online that the more I treat everything that I do like a series of experiments, the more I’m opening myself up to learning and growing through every single thing that I do.