First off, I should clarify that the title of “The Internet’s Dad” is not something that I would ever give to myself. Rather, it is something others have called me. My whole purpose for starting my YouTube channel, “Dad How Do I?” was to help to empower and encourage others, not to become a meme.
My father left when I was 14 and, after my own adult children moved out, I decided to create a channel to provide useful, practical content about many basic tasks that everyone should know how to do. Within a couple of months, the channel and community quickly became immensely popular, and some have dubbed me “The Internet’s Dad.” Regardless of my thoughts on the title, the fame and popularity have allowed me to do what I’ve always wanted: help people. Doing so, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what’s meaningful to me as a father. Here are a few things I’ve discovered.
1. I need to be TRUE to myself.
I am like most people in that I want to be liked. However, at the end of the day, I have to live with myself. I think we all, on some level, are faced with the temptation to compromise to please people. However, if you negotiate who you are, you end up not pleasing anyone, and you’re the one left holding the bag. I have found that I can get 99 encouraging comments, and one not so encouraging one, and of course you know what my mind ends up dwelling on.
I would encourage you to take the sage advice from Alfalfa of the beloved Little Rascals TV show. Spanky was chastising him for hanging out with a girl, Darla, so he sarcastically said to Alfalfa “Say Romeo, what about your promise to the He-man woman haters club? Alfalfa responds, “I’m sorry Spanky, I have to live my own life”. That is so simple, yet so profound. And when it all comes down to it, I have to be true to myself, and I hope you will do the same.
2. I can’t get AHEAD of myself
It’s easy to future-trip and wonder “what’s next?” I’m not surprised that this is something I find myself doing. I think it is smart to plan and that it is good to dream, but I don’t think it is healthy to be overly concerned about matters that are out of my control. I’ve had to slow myself down and remember to hold everything with an open hand. In God’s timing He will be able to put things in my hand, and also remove them as He sees fit. The bible verse from Philippians 4 helps me with this “6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Keeping that perspective has helped me not to get ahead of myself.
3. I need to be KIND to myself.
On my channel, in an attempt to stay in touch with my subscribers, I have tried to read most of the comments. However, I have found that I neither have the bandwidth nor the mental capacity to be that involved. As much as I do care about all of my “kids”, if I am not personally taking care of myself, and being good and kind to myself, I find that I just don’t have the energy or patience to help others.
I have now established some boundaries which allow me to set aside all of the distractions that are constantly bombarding me. For one, when I open my eyes in the morning, I no longer immediately reach for my phone. Instead, I go downstairs, make a cup of coffee, and spend the first hour reading and having my morning quiet time. If I can start the day off with a good perspective, it sets me on a good path throughout the day. I have found that If I am going to be of any use to those around me, I need to first be kind to myself.
4. I need to ENJOY the ride.
What’s happened to me the past year has been beyond anything I would have ever imagined. I didn’t start my channel to be famous, I didn’t start it to change careers, I started it out of a sincere desire to help people. Since my wife and I weren’t prepared for the reception that my channel received, it was honestly a little terrifying. Seeing my face all over the internet, made me feel a little exposed. Now that I have had some time to process and reflect on it all, I have tried to learn to slow things down, so that I can take it all in. I am amazed at all of the opportunities that have come my way. We never know how temporary something like this (or even in life in general) will be, so now I am doing my best to stop and smell the roses and take time to enjoy the ride.
To recap my past year, I have made the acronym TAKE to make it memorable to help you to reflect on your own life. The first letter of each point spells “TAKE”– True, Ahead, Kind, Enjoy. I hope it brings you some perspective on whatever journey you’re on.
Rob Kenney is a father of two grown children and the host of the wildly popular “Dad, How Do I?” YouTube Channel. His first book, DAD, HOW DO I: Practical “Dadvice” for Everyday Tasks and Successful Living is available now.