An alteration to your inspiration

We need to make sure our idols are positive influences, here's why Sam Kolder is mine.

by Amy Schaffer, Photographer

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When other people hear the word “vlogger,” they imagine a young man sitting in his car holding a small, point-and-shoot camera at double-chin angle, obnoxiously telling his viewers about his day. Think Jake Paul. However, for me, vlogs are much more than an update of someone else’s life.

I used to scroll through YouTube watching videos of people doing entertaining things like eating at an expensive restaurant in L.A. or bungee jumping in Colorado. I would put myself down as I binged these vlogs of other people’s fun days. Here I was, smack-dab in the middle of the country, far from the excitement of the world. The problem was not only did I lack hope of an interesting life, but I didn’t have the motivation to change anything about it, convincing myself a boring future was inevitable.

One day I was getting my daily dose of YouTube and came across a video titled “Hawaii v1.0” by a man named Sam Kolder. Assuming it was just another travel vlog, I clicked on it. Suddenly, I wasn’t sitting in my room anymore, but in between two forest covered mountains, fog rolling in all around me. A deep, anonymous voice spoke to me, saying, “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” Before I knew it I was flying over a volcano, then falling into the ocean, then walking along a rocky cliff.

The vlog continued like this, showing me Hawaii by taking me over hills and through caves. Then, it was over. The screen had gone black. I felt as if I had been thrown back into my twin-size bed at 100 miles per hour. I was left with a lump in my throat and my hands shaking, not knowing what exactly to do with my emotions. Had I just watched a video or had I just seen the world?

Unlike in the past, I didn’t scroll on to the next vlog and continue to mope about my uneventful life. Instead, I did as much research as I could on who this Sam Kolder was. After lots of Googling, I learned Kolder was a 20 year-old college dropout from Toronto who had gotten into film and photography at a young age, his career taking off when companies started paying him to film their products around the world.

With a passion I’d never felt for anything else before, I set on my quest to live like Kolder. Over the next two weeks, I circled places I wanted to go on a world map, looked for jobs and searched the internet for cheap plane tickets. I subscribed to the National Geographic magazine, made a music playlist titled “For Travels,” and spent all the money in my bank account on a new camera. I don’t regret these investments in the slightest.

This new motivation fueling me, I landed a job at my dance studio and worked with my parents to fill my upcoming summer with trips. I abandoned my boxed up frame of mind that too many of us possess and adopted one that made me curious to see as much as I could. My priorities went from staring at videos of the world all weekend to seeing the world for myself. Kolder had empowered me to step outside of what I’d been so comfortable with my whole life.

All I’d done was watch a video made by a better role model than the uninspiring ones I had before. Without this vlog, I would still be full of self-deprecation and wouldn’t have this new mindset that has allowed me to grow as a person. Here I am a year later, having traveled to seven different countries and booking photoshoots with eager clients. You don’t need to live in L.A. or be famous to lead an interesting life. Surround yourself with positive influences that will show you there’s more to the world than you think not make you feel as if you can’t reach it. I found what makes me happy by watching a single video on YouTube, so there is always something to inspire you that might be closer than you think. If you do not allow yourself to get inspired, you will not make a change in your own life.

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About the Writer
Amy Schaffer, Photo Editor

Howdy! I’m glad to see you found my staff bio page. I’m Amy Schaffer, co-photo editor and designer. As a #darticated junior who spends most of her free time in the pub room, you’ll rarely see me in the cafeteria during lunch. However, you’ve probably already caught me dancing spastically to Shawn Mendes in the hallways or walking a bit more quickly through the quad than everyone else. If that doesn’t ring a bell, you’ve most likely seen me ugly crying in the bathroom due to the Avengers: Infinity War ending. (If you know, you know.) Some other random “Schaf” trivia for you: I empathize deeply with the “screaming-old-lady-banging-on-a-bus-window” Vine, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) is the best movie ever made and VSCO filters should never be used at an intensity more than +7.5. If you relate to any of these things, let’s chat. If you don’t, that’s okay, my door is open anyways.

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