43. How Can I Get Over Burnout? (with Connor Franta)

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It’s hard to find someone these days who isn’t experiencing some degree of burnout. Connor Franta hit the proverbial wall after years of sharing parts of his life with his millions of social media followers. But there was one huge part of himself he kept a secret not only from his followers, but also from his friends and family. Connor tells Claire what it meant to find a supportive community online, how it felt to publicly come out on YouTube in 2014, and how he’s adjusted his social media use in order to combat burnout. Plus, Connor reads a poem from his latest book, “House Fires.”

Resources from the show

  • Listen to Burnout, a podcast by Lemonada Media hosted by Connor
  • Check out House Fires, Connor’s latest book

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Connor Franta, Claire Bidwell-Smith

Claire Bidwell-Smith  00:09

Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. Welcome to NEW DAY. Man. Today’s guest was when I was really nervous to interview. He’s super young and hip, someone my kids literally flipped out about when I told them I was talking to him. I was dreading feeling like this old uncool mom during our conversation, but it actually wasn’t like that at all. Instead, YouTube star Connor Franta. And I had this amazing conversation and talking to him have me remembering all the times I’ve stumbled along my own path to figuring out who I want to be in the world. And we really just had so much fun talking about how we both got to where we are today. By the end of it, I felt less like an old uncool mom and more like a fun aunt or something. Connor has been a YouTube star since he was a teenager and he’s literally helped shape the paradigm for other video influencers being one of the first people to come out as gay publicly on YouTube. His 2014 coming out video garnered millions of views when it was published and fueled his rise to social media stardom. Franta has 29 now, has since grown to become a national advocate for queer people. He’s a true creative jack of all trades, and award winning author, queer advocate, poet, photographer, clothing designer and entrepreneur with more than 20 million followers across his social media platforms. He’s the author of several books including the poetry and photography collection Note to self, his memoir, a work in progress, and his recent narrative and poetry collection house fires. He’s also the host of Lemonada Media’s amazing and much needed podcast Burnout, which explores how our society reached this breaking point and discovers how it affects your mind and body and looks at why the easy solution simply won’t work to solve a systemic problem. So make sure you check out burnout. The first I hope you enjoy my conversation with Connor.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  02:04

Hi, Connor, welcome. Thanks for coming on the show.

Connor Franta  02:07

Not a worry. Thanks for having me.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  02:09

I start every episode of this podcast asking my guests How are you doing today? But how are you really doing?

Connor Franta  02:15

Well? Am I really doing I’m actually fantastic. Because as we were talking about prior I’m post workout. So I’m kind of on my, my high still from it. So I feel great.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  02:24

You’re endorphin high. That’s good. That’s great.

Connor Franta  02:27

I got both a runner’s high and a swimmer’s high today.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  02:31

Oh, wow. That’s intense. I haven’t done either of those two things in a while. Well, I’m excited to talk to you today. I was wondering if you could start by describing like, who are you? How do you describe yourself these days?

Connor Franta  02:46

It’s different dependent upon the day, dependent upon the year but at the moment, Connor Franta New York Times bestselling author, decade long YouTuber, currently creating podcasts and audio across the internet.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  03:00

So, one of the videos I watched was like your big viral coming out video. And that was in what 2014? But that was a really big moment for you. How long had you been an internet presence before that?

Connor Franta  03:13

I believe my first video was uploaded in 2010. But I didn’t start getting heavy traction for a few years after that. So it all happened very, very quickly. It was one of those things where I didn’t even really realize what I was doing. But I was putting out content so frequently for a few years. And then it just started taking off. And then a few years later, suddenly it went from 0 to 5 million subscribers. And suddenly I had this huge platform on a thing that no one knew what it was because it was kind of the genesis of social media.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  03:47

That’s wild. And you were like a teenager in the Midwest, right?

Connor Franta  03:50

Yeah, I was 17 years old in high school.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  03:53

What made you start like, why did you start making videos?

Connor Franta  03:56

I just found it so fascinating. As soon as I realized that people were making videos on YouTube, I just became addicted to the medium itself and started, like, it felt like my own little personal world that I could dive into after school and after athletics and after friend time, it was like, I don’t think anyone knows that this exists. So it felt so singular and personal and precious to me. And after viewing it for, you know, a year or two, I realized like, oh, yeah, these people are just like me. They’re just people with webcams. They’re people with cameras and a little spare time and just doing it for fun, because at the time you didn’t even make money doing it. So it’s truly just we’re doing this for fun for connectivity for creativity. And it sounded like the perfect medium that I wanted to get involved in.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  04:43

That’s amazing. because I’m old, I started blogging back when they were still called weblogs. Like this is I’m talking like 2002 It was a similar thing. I was just kind of it was this it was this outlet. You know, I had just finish college and I was a writer in college and I didn’t have classes anymore. And I didn’t I didn’t have anyone to be accountable to with like writing stuff. So I just started writing this blog. And at one point, it got picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia as one of like the top web blogs in the world. And I had all these crazy readers. Yeah, it was nuts. It was like in the print edition of the Sunday paper in Australia. And it’s just a weird experience there. Like I think some people don’t understand the impetus of like, why, why do you want to put all this stuff out in the world? Why do you want to talk about your life and yourself? You know?

Connor Franta  05:35

It’s the search for connectivity, I think it’s a universal, it’s a universal endeavor that all of us are on and in some way, shape or another. And with the birth of the Internet, it’s just become easier to find community, especially, you know, I very quickly found that everyone on this production is from the Midwest and the Midwest is much more spread out. So you can feel very singular and very small and isolated in the Midwest, as precious and lovely as it is. And for someone like me, who was a closeted kid in the Midwest, I was just looking for, I was looking for a connection I didn’t even know I was looking for at the time, I just felt the void within me. And to figure out that on the internet, there were communities of people who seemed void of judgment and more full of creativity and expression. It just felt comforting. And it felt right to find it

Claire Bidwell-Smith  06:27

lead us up to that 2014 video in which you came out to your viewers, because it’s really powerful, and you’re really vulnerable in it. And it was obviously a really huge moment. And I’m just kind of curious about the I don’t know, the feelings you had before that of like, what it was like to be so public yet have this secret that nobody knew.

Connor Franta  06:47

I think the coming out experiences, you know, is singular to every individual. And my experience was very much one that was constantly avoided. It’s not like I had known and accepted my gayness very, honestly, up until that point, in a weird way it was it was one of those things that I was aware that it could be a thing, but I was constantly avoiding it, trying to not let it let it consume me. And some people it’s more of like a I know, but I’m not ready. Mine was more of like, I don’t know, I’ll never be ready. This is something I want. And it wasn’t until I sort of left the Midwest and moved to Los Angeles, that I was exposed to the fact that it didn’t have to be such a big deal. I remember moving to LA and just seeing rainbow sidewalks seeing you know, gay bar seeing drag queens seeing people being completely different to the archetype of the human experience that I had seen in the Midwest and being like, oh, yeah, it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to be one way or Oh, it doesn’t have to be such a big deal just to be yourself. Yeah, and befriending queer people, it just, it just very quickly became clear to me that it didn’t have to be a big deal. And it was like, it was like lightning that as soon as that happened within like a month, I was like, Okay, I’m gonna come up to my first person. After that, when well, it was like, I’m gonna come out to another one. And after that went, well, it’s like, I’m gonna come out to my mom. And it just happens so quickly, that within the span of probably eight months, then I posted that YouTube video. So I had come up to my first person, eight months prior to coming out to 3 million.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  08:39

And what was the response to that video?

Connor Franta  08:41

It was overwhelmingly positive to the point where it was almost just too much. It’s one of those things I don’t know. I’m sure it’s a little bit more of a universal experience. But having, having told someone something that you don’t even fully understand yourself then becomes another level of growth within you that you suddenly start getting asked questions or start having to kind of confront it even further, where when I didn’t even know the depths of what it meant to be a gay man. I didn’t know what it meant to be an openly gay man, I had yet to experience it. It was so new to me.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  09:19

And what’s that journey taken since then? I mean, you’ve really become an advocate for queer rights. You know, I mean, you’ve become like a real presence and voice for generation and what does that look like? What’s the end? And in that time to since 2014, it’s like, gender has exploded, and like, so many cool things have happened and terrible things have happened. Like a lot has happened since 2014. You know?

Connor Franta  09:45

I’s yeah, it’s been just like a true pleasure to be a part of this, this development within I guess, like the queer community, because it’s been sort of a you know, a revolution in the making, and I seemed to be a part of a little bit more of like the liberated side of the queer community in that our forefathers for mothers, for gender non-binary people have paved the path for us to get to this exact moment. And me being one of the first people to post a coming out video was just like another step along that path. And yeah, it quickly was something that I had to, to learn my history about, learn how I got to where I am, and to, to have, you know, a platform to kind of express that and to show that journey. And to utilize that community to further the Gay Agenda is was just like something I quickly realized was a no brainer. It seems like an obvious part, if I could use my platform to help people kind of fast forward their experience if I could use it to you know, help people find comfort within their experience. It just seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like I something I wish I had had in my life. I wish someone in the Midwest was that representation for me. So I was going to be everyone’s Midwestern representation. I’m now very fondly known as like the internet’s gay uncle, which I adore. And it just it seemed it seemed obvious, it seemed right. And I very quickly got involved with queer organizations. So I was helping you push different queer legislation and raise money for queer youth. And it just seemed, right? It’s where I get most of my joy.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  11:33

That’s amazing. That’s so cool. I’m just loving this time period. You know, I’m raising a bunch of kids and just how fluid they all, all their friends, like all the pronouns, all the different, like, in and out, nobody has to be any one thing. They’re all experimenting with different ways of being and, you know, when I was a teenager, it just wasn’t okay to do that. It wasn’t, you know, we weren’t, we didn’t have permission or acceptance of even just experimenting, and like, even questioning what we what we were. And it’s so cool to see the kids these days.

Connor Franta  12:07

Definitely, like the language wasn’t even there. I mean, I it was such a learning curve for me. I had to do my own research post coming out. Honestly, learning about anything. Beyond, you know, honestly, anything beyond just like pretty much gay and lesbian. It was it was like, what does this mean?

Claire Bidwell-Smith  12:25

I remember hearing my kids are schooling me all the time. Oh, yeah.

Connor Franta  12:28

Oh, yeah. I’m sure they are, which I love. I love and it’s awesome. Yeah, it’s great. If you lead life with curiosity, it’s a very fun journey to be on. I mean, the more I because I don’t know everything, and especially even about the queer community when I learned something new, I think, Oh, that’s awesome. I never thought about it that way. Or oh, I’ve never, I’ve never understood that. And it’s just been. It’s just, it’s fun to be curious about life and realize that, you know so little.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  12:55

Yeah. How’s everybody back in the Midwest, like your family and your high school friends and your community? Like, are they? Does it feel any more open back there? Or does it still feel kind of the same stifled culture that you were raised in?

Connor Franta  13:10

I mean, I like to think that Minnesota has always been, you know, a little liberal bubble because it’s been like the longest, it’s been like the longest standing blue state. Honestly, it might even be the longest standing one in the entire like US history. Like it is a little island of blue and it’s always been that way, which doesn’t mean it’s you know, perfect doesn’t mean it’s like every person there is liberal and forward thinking etc. But to that point, my community was incredibly accepting my although they didn’t really know many queer people, no one outright rejected me everyone kind of led with caution and curiosity. And since then, it’s only grown because now that the world is much more privy to this community, my family has become that way to my friends. All of my I went to like an all-boys college school; all the bros love it. They have so many questions for me.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  14:29

I saw a video that you posted like really recently, where you were rewatching videos when you were pretending to be straight, and you were giving dating advice. And it was just an awesome video where it’s you now watching painfully watching these old videos. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and why you made that?

Connor Franta  14:49

Yeah, it’s a fascinating thing. You don’t you don’t really realize it at the time but like it’s the age old saying of everything that you put on the internet is there forever and I you know as someone who has put 1000s of videos onto the internet 1000s of tweets, you know, hundreds, if not 1000s of Instagram photos, like there’s so much content that I’ve put out online. So it’s very cringy, for lack of a better word to be able to see almost any moment in my existence over the last 12 to 15 years. And that’s probably a universal experience to a certain extent now with everyone having social media but you had to see to see myself in video form. And to hear it or just even to see my body language, not how I dressed and to see myself presenting as something that you I clearly wasn’t to a certain extent is like, it’s hard to watch. It feels like an act. Or it feels like just such a step back. So it’s just it’s difficult to watch. And I also remember..

Claire Bidwell-Smith  15:49

I feel like you looked at yourself with some compassion, too. And for sure tenderness, you know. And that’s so important.

Connor Franta  15:56

Yeah, I think it’s very important. It’s that fine line between comedy of it’s much funnier to like, punch down, punch down at my past self, because it can punch back. But yeah, I look, I look at that person. You know, if I were to write a chapter in a book about it, I would look at that person with pure compassion, and just feel for him. Because I know, outwardly, you know, a joyous, interesting, excited person about the world, but inwardly just on fire, just confront pure confusion, peer stress, because like I didn’t confide in no one, I didn’t tell anyone anything about being gay until I was like, almost 21 years old. Not a word of that. Never a whisper never acted on it. None. So it was purely a self-battle, which are the hardest wars to win.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  16:50

Yeah, yeah. It made me think like, I wonder when you look back 10 years from now, at the videos you’re making right? Now? Obviously, you’re not holding the same kinds of secrets. But do you think there will be things that you look back on? And not? I mean, we’re always going to cringe when we look back at stuff, but are there things that you think? I don’t know? What will it be like? Like, what awareness do you have right now about yourself and the content you’re putting out?

Connor Franta  17:15

I think there’ll be less of a, they’ll be less of a, again, for lack of a better word, like a cringe element, purely because I see myself as being very authentic and true in this moment. So there’s less of oh, he’s lying or hiding. And that’s kind of what it feels like when I see high school or college Connor, it feels like a little bit of a show.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  17:37

Well, I think that authentic self-piece is really key. I had a recent guest on the podcast, who also kind of had a similar moment where she realized that she really wasn’t being her authentic self, you know, and there were so many pieces of her that she wasn’t being true to. And it got me really thinking about what does it mean to be true to ourselves? And what does it mean to be our authentic selves? And I gave it a lot of thought, and I was one of the things that I stumbled upon with it was that, I don’t know if it’s possible to always be true to ourselves, you know, I think, maybe, but I think there’s so many things that happen in life responsibilities, places where accountable to just weird social interaction, so we can’t always be completely authentic. And that maybe there’s a difference between being true to ourselves and being authentic. Does that make sense?

Connor Franta  18:31

No, definitely. I mean, I brought up a lot of scenarios in my mind where I think the times that you hold back being true to yourself to preserve the feelings of someone else, or to preserve like, the moment or the situation you’re in, of sometimes you kind of are like a work obligation, or yeah, there’s a lot of times where you’re kind of holding back, I think it’s Yeah, I think it all depends upon the situation. In the scenario, I think if there’s like, a true integrity level, something that you’re fighting against constantly. If it’s a constant, then that feels inauthentic. But yeah, you’re right. I think daily, we’re not true to ourselves.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  19:11

Yeah, I think it’s forced upon us. But then I think that looking at that really deep piece of like, what is the integrity around this and the choices I’m making and how I’m acting? And am I making the best decisions for myself to really, like, take care of myself be able to be who I need to be. When those things are in place, I think that we’re in a good place, you know, but it’s, I think it’s hard to figure out, especially when you’re young, you know, I think especially in our like late teens, early 20s. It’s really hard to figure out like who is our true self? What does that even mean?

Connor Franta  19:44

While you’re figuring it out, I mean, you think you’ve nailed that down time and time again, especially post high school, you realize you’re like, oh, I mean, I’m an adult. I’m 18 years old. I had to have figured something out by now, sweetie, no, you haven’t figured out truly anything you really haven’t just because there’s so many major development points after high school that occur, not even just, you know, not even just college early 20s. It’s like, really there’s so many big moments that can happen in that time period that will shape you into who you’re going to become the decisions you make. And as much as that can be daunting and feel severe, I think the same thing can happen in your 30s, your 40s, etc, it can continue to happen.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  20:30

What have you learned about ways in which you know, you need to take care of your mental health? Like, I know you were exercising right before this, that’s probably a part of it was like, how do you take care of yourself?

Connor Franta  20:41

Yeah, it was, once I had come out, I was then had to address the 21 years of trauma of having lived a certain lie, and having created anxiety around living that lie. And then thus having a depression spiral from the anxiety and the lie and it just all kind of met at a big forceful moment, where in that moment, I probably should have been my happiest, but it was almost like jumping off a cliff into a pool of uncertainty. And during, so suffice to say I went to therapy ever since then, and that was the first time I had kind of talked to a therapist about, about everything that I had been keeping in within me and through years and years of therapy and practice and self-worth. I realized the techniques that work for me and what keeps me level and stable. And I exercise has become my rock. It’s always been a part of my life. I was a state competitive, cross country runner and national competitive swimmer.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  21:51

Cool, I ran cross country in high school.

Connor Franta  21:55

It’s the best community I love the lacrosse people. But yeah, so I kind of went back to my roots in that sense and realize that exercise was a way for me to set myself up to like really never set myself down. It was like if I started my day off with an endorphin win, it was almost impossible to go below the floor as I describe it, because when you’re in a depressive pit, quite literally, you fall beneath the floor. But if I set myself up by achieving something, every morning of just going for a little run, it seemed to be almost impossible for me to get back down there. If I did that, so I’ll do that in the form of a run, a swim, a walk, you know, a wind down in the evenings with a little walk and talk with a family member on the phone or something. And those are the methods to my madness.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  22:50

Those are great. And it sounds like you’re exploring a lot of this kind of stuff on your new podcast Burnout. Tell me about that.

Connor Franta  22:57

Yeah, it was a really easy thing to work on. Because I’ve had a lot of personal experience with it. You don’t quite realize that like having such an intense job at 17 years old. And for a decade. It’s, you know, it is normal, but it’s not at the same time. It’s a lot of responsibility for a young person who’s, you know, already trying to figure out himself to thus figure himself out in the public eye and to do it set you at such a high level, high caliber. Yeah. So I’ve had experiences with Burnout.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  23:29

How do you describe Burnout? What is it?

Connor Franta  23:31

It’s this level of over exhaustion and hopelessness that you can’t seem to shake. It’s just like, even the easiest task seems impossible and difficult. And there were moments where even though I was successful, or something, fantastic was happening within my career, it didn’t matter because I was so tired. I was just so over it, even if it was again, even if it was great. And that’s not the case for everyone sometimes there it’s not great. But for me, it was like things are really good. Why am I so exhausted all the time at just the thought of doing the motions continuing to do the motions? Because I just needed a break, frankly. But yes, we did a four part essentially like docu series podcast on the history of Burnout in specifically the United States, but we kind of referenced different work cultures across the world. Because work culture in Europe is very different to work culture in America as many would assume. But it’s it was very fascinating because it affects people differently depending upon your socio-economical situation, your geographical location, your race, your sexuality, and especially in a time where a lot of jobs are becoming digital and remote. It’s fascinating to see how just your environment can affect your levels of burnout for this, that and the other so it’s been it’s been so fascinating. Getting to talk to Yale professors to talk to psychiatrists to talk to every day, you know, a mother, a friend of mine, etc.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  25:08

Well, I love Burnout. Thank you for putting this out in the world. It’s been really it’s like, so helpful for so many people. And I think a lot of people are still even starting to understand what burnout is and be able to recognize it for themselves. Like, that’s part of the problem, right?

Connor Franta  25:22

Yeah. And I think no one wants to, it’s become such like a hot topic and a hot word that I think no one wants to almost feel like they’re participating in a trend, or no one wants to diagnose themselves with something they may not have, just because it’s again, like trendy. But in terms of the historical data, I know that if you’re feeling it, it’s very likely that it’s a very real thing for you. We’re in a very turbulent period, in terms of so many different things that are going on right now. So it’s not something that will go away. It’s something that needs to be addressed. And if you’re feeling it, it’s valid. And the podcast lays out many different ways that can kind of help you walk through it, but just know, just know it’s real. It’s very real.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  26:34

Okay, so talk to me about writing. I’m a writer, I’ve always been a writer, I started writing poetry when I was in middle school, and I watched a trailer for your new book that just came out. And it was amazing. I loved the way you were reading, and I texted the producers. And I asked him, if they would ask you if you’d be up for reading a poem.

Connor Franta  26:56

I pulled a random page for you. If you want me to read it.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  26:59

Thank you. Your new book called House Fires.

Connor Franta  27:03

Yeah, here I’ll read a really quick one, because it makes me so anxious. But I’ll read a read a really quick one. This one, page 124 fighting back. It quickly became the most important part of my life, to find clarity, to obtain growth, to center myself in peace. I no longer wanted to live in fear of existing, impartial as I was. So I had no choice but to change. To die today would be a gift. But an outright refusal, I began a quiet revolution and threw my first punch back at the world.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  27:39

Thank you. Tell me about the book.

Connor Franta  27:45

It’s my third book. And I started writing. I guess at this point, it’s been like 7 years ago, my first book came out or 8 years ago, I realized that writing came in the form of in the form of snapshot storytelling. So it would be a sort of short essay, followed by a long form poem, followed by a even shorter, concise, like, poetic, like, what I just read is not it’s a poem, but it’s not it’s more of like, clever wordplay that transitions from one topic to the other. And that’s just how I found that storytelling was palatable for me, was just letting whatever medium in which I wanted to express it, just let it happen. And that was the reality of the situation. So for me, it’s you know, little short essays about my journey within, you know, the first book is about kind of, like my teens, the next one is about my early 20s. This one’s about my late 20s. And all the many depths at which are the many difficult topic, it’s topics that happen within those years.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  28:48

Yeah, but you’re really like, kind of liberating the writing. And that’s very cool to see. Because I think a lot of people have this impression, especially like young people that poetry is really boring and serious. And like, I just really like how just fresh and real your work is. And I feel like you’re doing a really big service to just younger generations being able to do that same kind of writing for themselves or, you know, be interested in poetry or be interested in different kinds of writing and work and art that’s out there. So I was just thought it was very cool.

Connor Franta  29:23

Thanks. So that’s really sweet. Yeah, I can’t I just I’ve always I’m fighting against the status quo. So anything that has been told to me to be a certain way, I think, why is that? And can I do it a different way? Just to stir things up.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  29:38

Do you ever just get tired of being so public? Do you ever just want to hide?

Connor Franta  29:42

Oh, I do all the time. I’ve gotten very good at that where no one ever really knows, like, where I am or what I’m doing. And it’s great. Like, none of my Instagram stories are almost ever posted in the actual moment. They’re like, weeks later, and I’m like, I’m not actually there. I’m not actually doing that right now. Just because I have like to, I like to keep my kind of […] and that sounds

Claire Bidwell-Smith  30:03

Do you ever just want to like stop all of it and just be a regular person? Or is that?

Connor Franta  30:08

I think I did honestly, during my intense burnout phases. In those moments, it seemed like the only way to not feel that way was to run away from it completely, or to completely destroy what I had built up. But, you know, after, after I had worked on it and thought about it more, I’m like, oh, no, it’s just doing what I’ve been doing in a different way. It’s just figuring out how to, because clearly what I’m doing isn’t working for me. So how can I still do this, but make it work for me, and that is just in the form of, you know, a different upload schedule, it’s in the form of not taking certain meetings before like 10am Because I want to go for my run. And that’s just like a part, that’s an important part of my routine, that’s just as valid as the podcast recording, it’s like I need to, that’s what I need to be able to podcasts record, so I need to have the time to do that. And it’s figuring out those boundaries and figuring out them for myself, which I think a lot of people are being forced to figure out during the pandemic of it all.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  31:12

Well, lastly, it sounds though, like you’re really infusing your work with a lot of meaning with the advocacy and just like, you know, really doing things that are helpful for people, things people really need making changes in the world. And that’s gonna feel so good.

Connor Franta  31:26

It does. It’s really what kind of keeps me going, frankly, is to keep to maintain my audience and maintain my platform so that I can highlight things that are bigger than me and beyond me. And it just, it keeps me feeling like what I’m doing has worth to it. I am I’m a board member on for Glisten, which is an LGBT youth organization and like anytime I’m on board meetings, or anytime we’re in person raising funds, or anytime I’m asked to go give a speech for them at a, you know, a high school or university or what have you. It’s like that’s the time where I feel most fulfilled is where I feel like I’m actually doing something that that is invoking potential change in someone’s life.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  32:14

I have chills it’s got to feel like it makes all that other work worth it to like stand there and talk to those kids.

Connor Franta  32:20

Most definitely. Yeah, I’m speaking at a university in Florida in August. And the only reason I accept it is because of the like the anti queer legislation that’s being put through in Florida and I’m like, I’m gonna get up on that stage. And I’m gonna say gay so loud, I’m gonna scream it. I’m gonna make the audience gay, just as like a statement in and of itself.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  32:43

It’s amazing. Well, Connor, thank you so much for the work you’re doing. Thank you for coming on the show. And I’m just so happy to get some time to talk to you. You’re such a delight.

Connor Franta  32:53

You as well. Thanks for having me. This was so peaceful.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  32:59

Nice word for it. Thank you

Claire Bidwell-Smith  33:01

Do you see why I love this conversation so much. And if I did sound like an old uncool Mom, please just don’t tell me. Anyway, we’re lucky to have people like Connor out there who by being so vulnerable about their lives create space for our own introspection. I can’t imagine what it’s like being a YouTuber with as many followers as he has. I know I’ve shared a lot about myself with my books and this podcast, but it’s totally different than what Connor does. And to think he started when he was 17. And closeted. I mean, wow, I have a lot of respect for him. Thanks for joining me, new day has moved to three times a week. The best way to keep up with the show is to subscribe on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. And submit questions for me to answer on those Monday and Wednesday episodes by emailing me at newday@lemonadamedia.com. Or at my online question form at bit.ly/newdayask. You can find the link in the show notes. Now that this episode is coming to an end, make sure to check out Lemonada Media’s podcast Burnout which Connor hosts, okay, see you next week.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  34:12

NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our VP of weekly content is Steve Nelson. And our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me, Claire Bidwell Smith. NEW DAY is produced in partnership with the Well Being Trust, The Jed Foundation and Education Development Center. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms, or find me at clairebidwellsmith.com. Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow NEW DAY listeners at facebook.com/groups/newdaypod. You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts.  Thanks for listening. See you next week.

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