Can you inspire others? Not simply a yes and no answer type question the meaning behind inspire is not concrete. Some people can say yes that they can inspire others because of their charisma, well-verse use of words, personalities, career positions, or even creative ideas. While others may say no this question if they feel they lack resources, connections, and opportunities. The truth is that inspiration begins with oneself. If an individual can inspire themselves to be somebody, do something, or more than they can certainly inspire others.
As an inspiring blogger and fervent supporter of an open, welcoming, and diverse world I use social media & blogging as my platform to share my views, thoughts, and visions. Similarly other inspiring individuals share their thoughts, voices, views, etc. through their talents, skills, and abilities. With so many inspiring individuals making history I thought it would be great to share a few individuals who not only inspire others, but also inspire me. These individuals are a part of the ‘inspiring millennial’ generation, who like myself are growing up in the 21st century and working toward influential changes in multiple ways.
With almost 2 million YouTube subscribers, an official TV series called Miss 2059, and the author of Surviving Suicide and recently published So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister (*soon to be) 28-year old Anna Akana is one of the most inspiring Asian-American millennials I have seen in my generation.
Overcoming heartache and pain of her sister’s death back in 2007 Anna found herself again by being inspired by well-known American comedian Margaret Cho. Learning how to laugh again and enjoy life after experiencing personal tragedy Anna devoted her time toward becoming a stand-up comedian instead of following her former goal of one day following in her father’s foot-steps and enrolling in the US military.
In the years since she laid eyes on Cho’s performance Anna suffered many setbacks with panic attacks from standing in front of audiences at clubs, bars, and small venues while performing in L.A. But, these setbacks did not keep her away from trying to pursue a full-time career in the entertainment industry. Taking time to navigate her way and overcome the red-tape of tough transitioning Anna eventually found her own “safe space.” In 2011 Anna turned to YouTube and created her YouTube channel named Anna Akana. Utilizing YouTube as a safe space to be herself behind the screen Anna continued her comedy schemes and works. Gaining popularity for her humor, insights, open discussions, and personal stories Anna’s YouTube status became a catalyst for her still-budding comedy career; and provided her with new opportunities to pursue acting, film-making, and even directing within entertainment.
Finding her calling via YouTube Anna has utilized the colossal video-sharing website as her main stage and a platform for her voice. Through making videos Anna discovered that she could share her humor, stories, and advice to not only just a roomful of viewers, but also to the world. Gaining subscribers from various domestic and international locations Anna focused on turning her page into an open and available resource channel for others who (*like herself at one time felt) feel alone, unheard, or are experiencing something that they believe is un-relatable.
Anna finds the courage to continue growing her YouTube channel because she believes in the positive effects her open and sometimes raw content. She is not alone. Since Anna’s growing page garnered a wide-array of subscribers Anna has been able to delve beyond type-cast roles and Hollywood scripts in the entertainment industry and talk about real-life issues that are important and should be addressed such as mental illness and suicide. Addressing these in her videos, as well as, through her recently published book Anna hopes to incite an open-dialogue about a reality that touches peoples lives.
Encouraging dream-seekers and go-getters Anna Akana’s YouTube star success is one that like many before took lots of time and patience. But, Anna’s road to success also carried the weight of her promise to herself to live with & overcome her personal life experiences. As a now regular stand-up comedian, YouTuber, author, actor, film-maker, and director Anna may seem like she has achieved every status within entertainment. However, like everyone else Anna too has made mistakes, has dealt with setbacks, and has changed her life expectations. Reflecting on her experiences continually via YouTube Anna sets a model example to her subscribers, fans, and viewers that you can divert from set paths, you can overcome painful circumstances, and you can still be yourself.