The Summer of YouTube

By Carolyn Lyon James

After the third time of running the dryer and seeing that my clothes were still damp, I knew I had a problem. My stomach lurched, and I could hardly swallow past the lump developing in my throat. I hate the helpless feeling that hits me when something I rely on has stopped working properly and there’s nothing I can do about it. And the cost to have a service technician come out to fix it is barely less than the replacement cost. Just three months earlier, I had woken up in a cold house with the realization that the furnace was no longer working. My jaw hung open when the repairman casually said it would cost a mere $650 to repair it.

I couldn’t fix the furnace, but was it possible to repair the dryer? I had never done anything like that before, but surely it was worth at least trying before I paid someone else to do it for me. I searched through a couple of YouTube videos and learned how to test the fuses and connectors using a multimeter. Then, I had to watch another video to figure out what a multimeter was and how to use one. Finally, I had to watch more videos on how to disassemble the dryer so I could reach the burned-out heating element that was the source of the problem, replace it, and then put the dryer back together again.

I can barely put into words the euphoria I felt when I turned that dryer back on and felt the warm air pushing out of the vent. My back ached from bending over for hours on end, and my fingers were cramped from having to use modified tools to tighten and loosen all the bolts and screws in the dryer. But my sense of accomplishment at having done something so completely out of my wheelhouse almost overwhelmed me. I was on top of the world and felt like I could do anything. YouTube had become my new superpower!

I wondered: If I could fix the dryer this way, what else could I be doing that I’ve been putting off because I was simply too nervous or uninformed to try? So now, this summer has become my odyssey into trying new things. With the help of YouTube videos, I have now begun drying and pressing flowers… and researching crafts and projects that I can use them for. I installed a pond liner in my garden. And I’ve been learning new sewing techniques to help me with clothing repairs and upgrades. Next up, I want to learn how to purchase and install miniature wallpaper for a dollhouse that I’ve had for decades but never got around to decorating.

The knowledge I’ve gained from watching these videos is much greater than the obvious content offered within them. I have learned more about myself and about things I like to do. I have always been an eager learner, and willing to acquire a new skill when it comes to the workplace. I never shy away from a new job or career choice. But it’s been a very long time since I’ve been willing to try something new just for the fun of it. Why? Maybe it’s because I feel like my time should be used for more practical things. Or that there just aren’t enough hours in a day to put towards learning a new hobby. Honestly, I think the truth is a little simpler than that. I think it’s a fear of failure — of investing a lot of time and effort into something, just to have it go wrong. A fear of wasting time. And perhaps a fear of not being perfect the first time. But I’m working to change that mindset this month. I’m allowing myself the time to try new things and the grace to get it wrong. I may discover a new passion. Or I may decide to let that idea go. But whatever happens, I am creating the space in my day — and in my attitude — to try something new. And that is definitely time well-spent.