I was first introduced to who Anna Akana is during my sophomore year of high school by one of my closest friends. The first video of hers that I watched was How to Put on Your Face and from the looks of it, it was just going to be another makeup tutorial-type video like all the rest I had heard of. Little did I know it was going to be anything except your average tutorial video.
Her videos cover so many aspects of life- from that original video I watched, about taking care of yourself to the fullest, to videos like: My Cats Review the Bubble Backpack or a short film she's created like her new series Youth & Consequences. In all of this, her videos contain the elements of being advice and story-based. In addition to her weekly videos and all of the work that she does, she's a huge advocate for mental health and more specifically suicide prevention.
Being so vocal about her past and the struggles in it, Akana talks about how the loss of her sister through suicide. She also isn't afraid to talk about her own struggles with depression and mental health in general. Many of her videos are focused around self-care: How to Talk to Someone with Depression, and in general being a decent human being. Her courage to speak up about the issues that not only plague society, but taking care of yourself to the full extent- physically, mentally, emotionally, and every aspect of living your best life.
She got through the grief of losing her sister and the spiral of depression she faced following that tragic event by finding comedy and starting her YouTube channel. She started doing stand-up comedy at 19 as a way of getting through her grief. The laughter and being up on stage was an escape for her, as I'm sure it is for most other comedians. Akana is an inspiration to myself and many others: her words and actions speak so much louder than what my words say in return. In a way, part of Akana's current day actions say how the death of her sister she feels responsible, "Because she is my sister and I am her protector. And since I failed in that duty in life, I will satisfy it in death" (Akana, Surviving Suicide).
I failed to fully understand all of Akana's words and actions until I read her book So Much I Want To Hear You. It puts such a weight towards the emotions that Akana felt and still bears through. It puts such a strength in everything she does to try to fight what she struggles with. The book is a collection of letters to Akana's sister, Kristina, which details about Akana's struggle after her sister's death and what it did in shaping Akana as the person she is today.
What I'm trying to get at is that through her own struggles she's inspired so many and touched lives with her words and videos. Her strength throughout these struggles shows more about what we can learn and grow from our own struggles and also how we as people need to strive to speak up and do something.
In this world, our actions will say more than our words and with the rates of suicide that affect this generation. Our world is unforgiving as well as the people in it and when people are thrown into deep, dark holes so deep that they can't find the light and think the only way to get out is to go further down. Akana is just one of many that speak out towards finding the importance in our lives, even in the little things, and taking care of yourself to the full extent.
So while I'm sure that this article has proved how much I recommend watching Akana's videos and listening to every word she says, it's also important to know that our world shouldn't force individuals into these deep dark holes where they think the only way out is down further into the ground. But to find that light at the top and speak out about what you go through. You heal when you fully realize that you're not okay and you need others to show you something- whether it's love, support, or words that shout somewhere into the void they could be trapped inside.
And in the words of Anna Akana, "stay awesome, Gotham".
While you're here, watch this video that started my love of this amazing human.
If you or anyone you know/love is struggling, or call: 1-800-273-8255