Discovering Yes Theory

YouTube, a multimedia social platform, has the ability to provide billions of people across the globe with a space to watch videos for entertainment or information. Deep down, YouTube is much more than just a website - it is a powerful means to spread messages and begin movements. Approximately two years ago, while scouring the internet for the latest viral video, I stumbled upon a video titled “We shared our deepest insecurities in public” and I thought to myself, “Why would anyone ever want to do that?” so I clicked on their channel called “Yes Theory”. After watching one video after another, I was intrigued and inspired by their lifestyle. I quickly wanted to become a part of their movement. 

            Growing up in a small town, elementary, middle and high school had its difficulties. By kindergarten, the cliques had already begun forming and friend groups were set in stone, and nothing changed for the next 8 years. Lunch was an especially hard time; the cafeteria tables had a finite number of seats and fueled the fire of the cliques. The lunch rooms and even the tables had clear and distinctive splits between friend groups. There was the soccer table, the feminist's table, the gamers table, the football table, the last-minute homework table, the list went on and on. This barrier made it extremely difficult to make new friends. Once a group was formed, it was nearly impossible to join or switch groups. I didn’t know which group I belonged to. I had always wanted to get along with everyone. But I was forced to choose, and I eventually joined the runner's group, the guys I saw every day at practice for cross country and track.  Prior to that, I spent most of my grade school days with one or two close friends who would eventually drift apart. I was the shy kid whom everyone knew, but no one wanted to spend time with me. I was an introvert until my junior year of high school, but after discovering this channel, everything changed.

            Yes Theory started in 2015 when Thomas, Matt, Ammar and Derin, four guys from different backgrounds in their twenties, created a YouTube channel to produce a project in Montreal called “Project 30”.  The project was to do 30 things they’ve never done before in 30 days, all activities were out of their comfort zone. Since then, they’ve done more daring, spontaneous adventures out of their comfort zone, and I fell in love with their motto, “Seek Discomfort”. Every video they post has a message; spread love, reach out of your comfort zone, live a vicarious life and so on. Their “Abandoned in...” series is when a member of the group travels in a city without any money and forced to rely on the kindness of strangers.  Their “Taking strangers…” series is when a member asks strangers to a spontaneous adventure - something crazy and usually ends with everyone having the best day of their lives.  “Yes Theory” never ceases to amaze me.

A common quote used at the end of their videos is “If you were 99 years old on your deathbed, what would you have done today?” Every time I see this ending, makes me think about what I would have done. And every time, my 99-year-old self thinks of different things I would have done. Seeing others open up about their insecurities, or tackling their biggest fears made me realize, there is absolutely nothing terrifying about trying new things. I am now not afraid to try new foods, travel to new places and meet new people.

            Four months ago, Thomas, lead editor for the group, recorded the “last day of his life” - he filmed a video and went through 24 hours as if it were his last. He performed this experiment to truly appreciate all that he has in his life. He began the day skydiving into the sunrise, had breakfast at his favorite diner, gave a $500 tip to a delivery boy, danced on the boardwalk like no one was watching, went surfing at his favorite beach and cooked dinner for his closest friends. Towards the end of the 24 hours, he said, “Anything can happen at any moment, it’s important to not leave anything behind, tell the ones you love them, chase the things you’ve always wanted to do, and make sure you live every second and make it worth it.” (Yes Theory). When I watched this video, I sat down, looked at what I have done in my life, thought about what I would do if I only had 24 hours.  I told the ones I loved that I loved them, donated $30 to charity and planned my first skydiving adventure. I wanted to be more spontaneous, more outgoing, influence more lives. I wanted to live a life that I’m proud of.  The messages they spread changed my life, and I was no longer that shy kid who wouldn’t talk to anyone, I too, wanted to seek discomfort and live a vicarious life.

            During my endeavor to find happiness and purpose in life, “Yes Theory” has been the one constant thing which always reminds me to look for the best in people and find my truest self. Choose love over hate, be the guy that everyone looks up to, choose spontaneity over fear, influence one person at a time in a positive way, and always choose happiness.

It is not an exaggeration to say that one five-minute video on the internet triggered the change I was seeking in my life.  I still remember the night when I first saw these four guys talk about their insecurities and how those thoughts were ruling their lives. They were sharing their “what if…?” fears and I realized that I was able to relate to a lot of fears they had.  Among all of the fears being mentioned, I felt that my biggest fear was “What if I die before I reach my potential?” I felt comfort in knowing that I have similar discomfort with others. From that night, I turned from a shy, closed-minded, introvert to an open-minded, curious extrovert who is always willing to try new things, to seek discomfort. I have become one of 53,174 members of the movement, I jumped out of an airplane at 13,500ft and I reinvented myself.