94: Fellowship Ft. Oksanna Shulgach: Creating Meaningful Content & Learning To Find Success In The Small Moments
Oksanna Shulgach, a YouTuber, traveler, and an aspiring entrepreneur, talks about her Youtube channel and creating meaningful content. Joining Thane Ringler, Oksanna dives into taking in new responsibilities and the benefits of travel to learn about culture. Oksanna shares her thoughts on being comfortable with your own self and how she deals with anxiety. She then talks about her source of inspiration in relation to her vision for the future and her definition of up and comer. Learn why being alone is okay through the eyes of Oksanna as she talks about figuring yourself out.
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Fellowship Ft. Oksanna Shulgach: Creating Meaningful Content & Learning To Find Success In The Small Moments
This is a show all about learning how to live a good life. We do that one day at a time, one episode at a time, and one week at a time. Our mantra in that process is having intention in the tension because life is filled with tensions that we have to live in the middle of. Life is a beautiful dance. Thanks for reading and joining us on this journey. This is a fellowship episode, which means it’s more of a peer-to-peer conversation, more of a dialogue and a little bit shorter than our typical interviews. It’s more of a deep dive into someone’s story, but before I get there if you’re new, welcome. I wanted to give you a couple of ways that you could contribute to this community. If it’s something that you believe in and you enjoy the content we’re producing and what we stand for, the best way to help us out is twofold. One, scroll down on your phone and leave us a five-star rating review or whatever star you want to give us. Leave and drop a comment and get to share some love that way.
The second best way to help us out is if you read an episode that you enjoy or made an impact on you, send it to a few friends and people that are in your life that you think it could benefit or impact. That’s probably the two best ways to be a part of The Up & Comers movement. If you want to rep some merch, we’ve got that available on our website at TheUpAndComersShow.com. You can see a little link there for the merch where we’ve got some shirts that are sweet looking, so you can officially be an Up & Comer. The fellowship episode is with none other than Oksanna Shulgach. Oksanna is the newest member of the Up & Comers team and she’s been helping us out. She’d been part of a team for a couple of months and it’s been an absolute blast having her to help make all of this magic happen. She’s been such an amazing addition to the Up & Comers team. We couldn’t be doing this without her, so shout-out to Oksanna.
Who is Oksanna? She is a YouTuber, traveler and aspiring entrepreneur. Her goal through YouTube is to motivate people to live bold lives without regrets. She is passionate about travel, her family and all things related to creating and experiencing life. She is embracing that. She was born and raised in Bel Air, Maryland and then moved to LA. It’s been cool getting to know her and see her heart. She’s an inspiring person for only being nineteen years old and having an amazing ability. What some other people said about her is that she has an amazing ability to be with people of all ages and relate to people where they are. Other people also said that she is one of the best listeners they’ve ever met, so she’s got some amazing gifts where she’s at in life.
You’re going to enjoy this conversation with her. We’ll dive into a lot of things, including YouTube. You can find her channel at Osi Talks. We’ll talk about taking on responsibilities and moving to a new city. We’ll talk about the benefits of travel and culture. We’ll talk about mental health and dealing with anxiety. We’ll talk about having intention as we always do, being comfortable with yourself, and a lot of vulnerable and important conversations. You’re going to want to read on and you’re going to enjoy it.
Oksanna, welcome to the show. You made it. We’re sitting here with two mics about to have a conversation. How does it feel being in front of a microphone?
I expected to be as nervous as I feel.
One reminder is to breathe. It’s usually helpful. We need oxygen. Mics aren’t that scary though. They’re stationary and they don’t bite. They’re usually friendly unless you say something you shouldn’t, then you will probably regret that. Overall, they’re likable people. Typically, you find yourself not necessarily in front of a microphone, but more in front of a camera. Talk to me about Osi Talks. Who is Osi Talks?
Osi Talks is an unintentional brand that I created for myself years ago. Maybe I was fourteen or so and I had been watching my favorite YouTuber named Dodie Clark and now she has blown up. She’s done many awesome things and she was an inspiration that I then thought to myself, “I want to make my own channel.” Osi is a nickname that my family created for me years ago and it’s the name that they still call me now. It was just a family name, but my channel has slowly grown. That’s my Instagram name and my Twitter name. Across the board, that is how I am known to the world. Other people and friends have been calling me Osi and it threw me off guard a little bit in the beginning, but now, I’ve gotten used to it because I did this to myself.
Oksanna is a fascinating name. What is the most ridiculous name you’ve gotten when you tell people? I’ve gotten Thane. I’ve gotten Thing, Bain, and Thanos. I’ve gotten a lot, so I’m sure you’ve gotten your fair share as well.
The most common is people spelling it with an X and being like, “Oxana.” I’m like, “That is incorrect. I don’t even want to talk to you right now.” I did get once Oshganna.If you do things all by yourself, you’re missing out on connections, relationships, and the joy of life. Click To Tweet
For people reading, Oksanna is the socializer. She is officially part of the U&C fam and it’s been fun. She has been a spark that we needed so we are grateful for her. I’m excited to dive into some things. Give me your family heritage.
My family heritage in a nutshell. My grandparents on both sides are from Ukraine and Poland and then my dad’s parents went to Brazil for a bit. He was born there and then they moved to New Jersey when he was a young child. On my mom’s side, her parents originally went to Paraguay and then they moved to Argentina and they stayed there. My mom was born there and she grew up in Argentina. She was there until she was twenty and then she came to Maryland. My parents met in Baltimore and then the rest is history.
You grew up most of your life in Maryland and then here you are in LA. What prompted that move to LA?
Maryland is a lovely state and has lovely countryside, but it’s calm. It doesn’t foster a lot of creativity, especially in the city that I was in called Bel Air, Maryland. In that city, I went to a school there. It was a community college and I met a lot of Austin people. Through that, I got to be creative, but I felt like there was something more. I felt suffocated by that town. It was the same town and I had always been in the same people. I always saw it and it was too small for me. I knew that I had reached the cap there and I needed to go out and explore more. I have a brother and his wife who lived in Los Angeles. They graciously allowed me to live with them and that’s where I’ve been.
Did you start your YouTube channel how many years ago now?
It was in 2014.
When you started it, what was this initial idea for starting a YouTube channel? When you started that a few years ago, it wasn’t that common.
There were some YouTubers that were the big-name ones, but I was inspired by watching my favorite YouTuber. It looked like she was having so much fun and as a child, something that my brothers and I did a lot is we would make little short films or lots of little random videos. I started doing that with my own friends. We would make short films. I loved the editing process, the filming process and directing everything and making a cool project. It brought me so much joy and I thought like, “I could make cool videos and then put them online. Other people could see them and I could be famous. I want to do that.” That was what prompted it. I didn’t have a specific video I was going to make. I just wanted to make videos.
Which video are you most embarrassed by?
Probably the first one because I know where I was at in my life at that time and you can see I was uncomfortable with myself. I was shy and you could see the insecurities coming through. I’m slouching and I had put an outfit together that in my head at the time, I was like, “This is going to be hip and cool.” I looked back and I’m like, “What were you wearing?” The hairstyle is crazy. I was still figuring out myself, but that’s the coolest part. I get to see myself grow through the years because of these videos.
I don’t know if people know this, but the first episode Adam and I ever did, we said, “We’re not releasing this.” We redid the first episode because it was that bad. I haven’t in a while and I don’t want to, but go back and read the early episodes. It’s the same thing. You try too hard. You’re trying to be something you’re not because you’re not necessarily comfortable where you’re at or you think that you need to be more than you are. That touches on the identity piece. It’s always going to be a struggle for us in general as humans. That goes back to something we were talking about, which is the fact that people are just people. Tell me about this scenario that you had an experience or situation where you were reminded that regardless of what we think about other people, at the end of the day, they’re just people like us. It’s something that you met someone who is over at your house.
A friend of ours works a lot on sets and he’s a stand-in and he has a variety of different jobs. He got to meet a high-name actor. From that connection, this guy was willing to help our friend with his big passion project that he’s been working on. He even said he would help him be doing a voiceover for it. My brother has a good setup for recording voices and stuff like that because that’s all the equipment he has. We invited this guy to come here and I got to meet him and. We got to listen to that whole process. It was crazy to think that this guy has been on the biggest sets, but he’s also willing to do small projects like this. It’s such a reminder that truly at the end of the day, we’re all people and we need to be in this together because that’s the only way we’re going to get anywhere. If you do it all by yourself, you’re missing out on connections, relationships, and the joy of life. I don’t think you’d get much from doing it all on your own.
What hurts our ability to see people as people?
The nature of what a person who’s famous like being excited about the things that they’re creating and getting to see them. Social media plays a big part in this and the videos that we see on YouTube, we’re seeing someone through a screen, but we’re not actually seeing them. In our minds, that’s where they exist. They exist on this computer, so seeing them out in the world, it’s like, “They’re real.” Our brains aren’t used to it and we put them on this higher platform of doing something like, “I could never do that,” but we can do that. That’s something that I’ve been learning that we’re all made of the same thing. We’re all made of human flesh, bones and all. Some people started it sooner and they met the right connections, but the fact that they did it and now they’ve grown to where they are. That doesn’t mean another person couldn’t do it and also grow to where they are. We all have the same abilities to pursue those dreams. Because somebody else is pursuing and succeeding in your dream, it means you can also do that. It’s motivation.
When have you seen that shift the most for you? What has helped you the most in seeing people as they are?
In the beginning, when I first moved here, I’ve never been the person who would get star struck. I always thought celebrities are awesome and they’re doing cool things. Good for them, but I don’t care and I wouldn’t want to talk to a celebrity out in the world unless I have a reason to. I want to treat them as people. I’ve always had that mindset, but it was even more ingrained when I went to a coffee shop once. I saw a celebrity and I was like, “That’s cool.” He was ordering coffee for him and his wife, and it was the most random thing. He was wearing sweat pants and he’s super casual. He was living his life. It was such a reminder that when they’re not in doing the movies, they’re getting groceries or getting coffees like anybody else. It’s a job and they do their job well. That’s a cool thing to have come to realize.
To underscore all that, it’s ultimately a conversation about identity and what we and find our identity in. It’s tough because as humans, we’re prone to find our identity and things that are extracurricular, things that aren’t being human. It’s our job, accomplishments, status and image. It’s all of these things that don’t define us but are a part of us. That’s the switch that a lot of times is deadly in many ways and we experience it. What you mentioned about pedestal is important because if we’re honest about our identity as human beings, it’s a level plane.
We’re all on the same plane of being human. When we add to that identity, then we start raising some up and lowering others down. Both sides of that are bad. It’s not helpful either way. I love that concept of people are just people and we got to get away from these things that we put on top of identity. Both the raising and the lowering can be unhelpful. Part of that also produces fear. It produces fear of others and what they think of us because we value them more than others. It also produces pride by viewing ourselves as greater than others. Both of those aren’t helpful. One thing that we’ve talked a lot about is overcoming fears because you are nineteen years old and you moved out to LA by yourself technically, even though your brother and sister-in-law are out here. It’s a big thing for a nineteen-year-old across the country. What was that process like? What did that teach you about overcoming fears?
Even though I did have a brother and family that was waiting for me right after I moved here, my brother and his wife both went back to the East Coast because they had a project to film for 3.5 weeks. I was fresh out here in this city and I was alone. I had moved here out on my own and I had to figure out who I was as a person. What are the things that I like to do? How do I motivate myself? How do I get up in the morning? What do I need to do to be able to be productive? The biggest thing for me was finding a community. They had introduced me to a church and we had gone to church the Sunday right after I moved here. I didn’t know too many people, but I knew I needed to meet people. That’s how I was going to get through this, so I made it a point to go every single Sunday.
There was a Bible study and I started going to that. That’s how I met Thane. Being able to have these connections and have people that were keeping me accountable in the way that when I would go there, they asked me, “How was your week?” People showed that they cared. They were invested in my life and people that I could also invest in. That mentality is something I needed to be a functioning human being because I am an extrovert. With that, I get fueled up by people, so if I don’t have that, I get drained fast. That’s something I always knew but did not necessarily know to what extent. Moving to new places in the future, that’s what I have to do. I have to find people.Find a way to be uncomfortable so that you’re forced to figure things out. Click To Tweet
Do you think that could have happened if you stayed in Maryland? Do you think it’s needed for you to get way outside that bubble?
I needed the push because in Maryland, it was too comfortable and I wouldn’t push myself. I had wanted to do YouTube and be consistent about it for years, but in the comfort of my own home, I never found the motivation to. I would think, “Maybe tomorrow.” There was nothing that was pushing me to do it because I was still figuring out my life. Moving out here, it made me feel like I needed to have more of a purpose because why did I move here then, if not for that?
What would you say are the battles with fear? What fears do you face in life?
The biggest fear is feeling like I’ve wasted my time and having to learn that no time is wasted. Everything you do or you don’t do is for a reason and you’re going to learn for that in some way. You don’t always have to be doing something every moment of every day. That doesn’t mean you’re not being productive, it just means that that day, you weren’t being productive. It could be in a whole month. Maybe you do one exciting thing the whole month, but that’s okay, too. Everybody works at their different pace and that’s something I’ve learned from living with other people that are trying to find the finances to be able to support themselves.
My brother and his wife are both in the film industry and his wife is an actress and he is a cinematographer. Seeing how hard they worked and how they’re always in and out of the house going to sets all the time, it made me feel like, “Why am I not doing that? I’m not being a good human being. I need to be working more. I need to be applying for jobs.” It made me feel like I was wasting my time, but I had to learn that I work at a different pace. Looking back to LA, I don’t think I’m going to think I’ve wasted it. I feel like I’ve spent my time well.
How do you evaluate that? What ways do you do to gain objectivity and thinking about what end of the spectrum you’re on? Is it being lazy or being too workaholic? There’s a wide spectrum there like not doing what needs to be doing versus doing more than we need to be doing. That’s a hard evaluation. What do you use to help yourself know where you’re at on that?
The biggest thing is when I came out here, I didn’t have specific goals. I had goals, but the details about how I was going to achieve that or being super specific about it, I tried not to be because I didn’t want to set up these big expectations, not meet them and feel disappointed with myself. I knew that was going to happen if I made these goals too specific, so I made it broad. Moving out here, I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, which is a question a lot of people my age have and even people in their twenties have. I wanted to figure myself out and I did that. I figured out that I like YouTube and I want to pursue that. Hopefully, one day, make that my job and career, but I don’t know if I ever will get there. I’m going to keep putting out videos anyways and see where it takes me. In doing that, I realize I enjoy marketing and advertising. That was something I did in Maryland, but it was another thing that I did. I didn’t focus on, “I like this,” or “I don’t like that.” I was able to fine-tune my interests and I wouldn’t have been able to do that in Maryland. I know that that’s what I needed to do and that was my next step in life. I’m getting more direction and everything else that happened along the way is just a bonus.
The cool thing about it, even for people that are reading this, is that you don’t have to move to LA to make these things happen. Everyone has a different path. For you Oksanna, it was great because you needed that extra push. For someone reading, maybe you don’t need the push of like, “I’m going to move to LA.” Maybe you need to commit to doing where you’re at because we all have the ability to make a choice, find the motivation and the discipline to pursue what we feel called to persistently. It’s important to understand it. By no means, moving to LA is still an intentional choice that you individually get to make. It’s been fun to see your growth in that, too, since we’ve been connected. It’s a sweet journey. The cool thing about moving to LA is that it is a fight or flight like you have to find a way or get spit out. That’s the reality of LA. It’s been helpful for me, too, that it does leave no other option, which is cool because sometimes we need to have our back against the wall to figure out who we are, what we’re made of, and what we’re trying to do in life.
Truly, you don’t need to come to Los Angeles, the big city of lights to figure out your life. It could be anywhere. It could be the next town over or an apartment down the street from your family. You know yourself the best and you as a general person, you know what’s going to be the best way to focus. Being surrounded by family is you get distracted because you’re comfortable. You need to find a way to be uncomfortable so that you’re forced to have to figure things out.
If you look at history, people in different tribes and groups always had a rite of passage or a ritual to move from boyhood to manhood. It was this period of time where you’re changing your identity from dependency to independency. Our society doesn’t do as good of a job of that. College is that thing, but college doesn’t necessarily prepare you well for manhood and it’s late in the game sometimes. We all have the ability that we should know ourselves, but knowing yourself is a process, too. You have to go through the process of knowing yourself and discovering who you are as a person versus a part of your family. You get to do the work of committing to that identity and that purpose after you’ve discovered what it is. For people that are in that process of discovering, of like, “I’ve been a part of my family and I love my family, but who am I as an individual?” As they’re going through that, what was helpful for you in that transition? What else was there that helped you in that process?
The biggest thing was being comfortable with myself and how I was in the world. The biggest thing I would do, even in those beginning of 3.5 weeks, I would take myself out on dates, go to the movies or get ice cream. I would think to myself, “What do you want?” I would indulge that. Definitely, there’s a little balance to that don’t always indulge what your wishes and wants are. To an extent, you need to love yourself and you need to understand that life is going to be a hard process. At the end of the day, this is the only person and only body that you’re ever going to get, so you need to treat it well. You need to love yourself and be able to have these moments where you’re alone with your thoughts. I wasn’t ready to deal with being alone until I was forced to being alone. Now, I go out and do stuff by myself all the time and I love it. I am able to have so much clarity through that.
Even if you’re a person who doesn’t have the luxury of being able to move out of your house and you have to live with your family for another few years or however long it might be, find a way to leave and go somewhere for an hour or 30 minutes a day. You can have a journal of some sort or your phone to write notes. Let your mind think and try and figure stuff out about yourself. The only way we’re going to know about ourselves is to listen to that because no one’s going to tell us that. We have to figure it out, so force that quiet time to exist.
One of the things you’re fond of is traveling. That’s a bigger version of leaving. We can create space within our daily life, rituals and rhythms, wherever we’re at by going to a coffee shop, restaurant or library. That’s a small scale, but on a bigger scale, traveling is a great way to broaden our horizons and also help us understand ourselves. Tell me about your affinity for travel.
It comes from having such a cultural family. I had that bug planted in me as a kid and we would have family members from Argentina visiting us all the time. I wanted to experience new cultures and that was something I loved. Whenever I’d walk by people and they’d have an accent, my heart would flood. I’d be like, “They’re from France or Germany.” It made me excited that there was a culture in the world and I had to learn about it and explore and meet people from everywhere. I wanted to know everybody.
We made a trip when I was ten years old. My mom took me and my oldest brother, Jonathan. We went to Argentina and that was a 3.5-week trip. That was intense. I had never traveled before, but that was a cool way to start all of that because, after that, I didn’t travel again until 2016. I’m turning seventeen that year and I made a ten-day Europe trip and that was the big one. There were a lot of people on that trip, maybe twenty kids. There were a bunch of us. Even though there were many of us on that trip, I was specially added on because I was homeschooled. That’s a big point to put out there. Being homeschooled, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to make school trips like this all the time. Sometimes, we would take field trips with other homeschool families, but it wasn’t the same.
At this one, I had taken a class at a private school and they had told me about this trip. They let me go on because I had been taking this class with them. On this trip, I knew people, but I went with the mentality of, “I know what I want to see when I’m there, so I’m going to see it. I’m going to take pictures and I’m going to do what I want to do, so I get the most out of this trip.” There was one dad on this strip that he didn’t particularly like my mindset. I would often be in the back of the group and I would stop because I saw something beautiful. I had to take a picture of it, so it became a thing. They’d be like, “Where’s Oksanna?” I knew where they were but they didn’t know where I was. It’s not the best thing for the chaperones. That is when I learned that I loved exploring things, taking photos and experiencing the culture. I had always known it but that trip confirmed it. That was the first of many I’ve taken in the past couple of years.
Do you have a favorite or most vivid memory or experience from traveling? One of mine was on the negative side. I went to Bangkok, Thailand for the Asian Tour Qualifier and this was in January of 2017. My back injury had re-aggravated the week before. In my gut, I knew it wasn’t going to be all complete, but I had to try and it was a two-week trip. I get over there, get prepared and practice for the event, and it flares up again. I had to withdraw, but then I had two weeks in Bangkok by myself with no agenda because flying back would have cost more than staying. That was a fascinating experience to be by yourself for that long without an agenda in a foreign place because you realize the importance of humans, relationships and community. Experiences are more about the people that you experienced it with than anything else at a certain point and threshold. I learned a lot about myself.
I had been eating cheap food from grocery stores, which is good, but I had been eyeing the fish. I was like, “Maybe it maybe wouldn’t be that bad.” When you smell the waterways around there, it’s not a smart thing. I had gotten this piece of fish and I had eaten it. That launched the weekend from hell. I had wretched food poisoning. I was on the 30th floor of this Airbnb apartment in Thailand with hallucinations and fever. It was horrible. I’m all by myself and I didn’t sleep at all. It was bad and I had to fly back within a day. It was the longest night and most ridiculous, crazy experience. I’ll never forget it. It’s definitely the worst night of my life.
I’ve thought of two, one is a positive and one is negative. I’ll start with the negative and then we’ll go to the positive. At a time that my brother Andre and I were in Iceland with a friend who was studying in England, but he was from America. We had traveled around with him to England first and then we went over to Iceland. Iceland is a beautiful place. It’s rainy though and can be depressing sometimes, but overall, it’s beautiful, luscious and green. In our last night there, you’ve got to go hard or go home because you’re going home anyway. We decided we were going to camp this last night, so we had bought a tent and we found a special camping ground because you’re not allowed to camp wherever you want. It’s illegal because people were doing it and then they were killing the moss and destroying the land. They’ve made these special spots that you can go and set up your tent.
We went and we were setting our thing up. This is where we learned that night. None of us had ever gone camping before because we didn’t know how to set up a tent. I took a video of it and put it on YouTube, but I haven’t gotten around to editing. The process of setting it up was a long time and it was a two-person tent and three people inside of it. Going to sleep in that tent, I ended up in the corner and it was cold. I had these little hand warmer things, but it wasn’t helping. I was shivering and I had this thin little napkin of a blanket. My brother was fast asleep and he was having the best time. Our friend ended up sleeping in our rental car because he couldn’t do it. My face was getting smashed by the tent because it was raining, pouring and windy. I didn’t sleep at all that night either. I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t wait to go home. I’m so done.There is no pain without purpose. Click To Tweet
On the positive side of another trip to Greece, we were at a rooftop restaurant that my brother Jonathan’s wife, Sarah, was guiding us around her city. She brought us to this rooftop restaurant and there was a guy in the corner strumming his little Greek guitar. We were enjoying the food and the scenery. It was such a warm heart moment of enjoying family. At one point, my brother and his wife, Sarah, disappeared and we were like, “Where did they go?” We searched for them. We found them inside of another restaurant across the street. They had started doing a classical traditional Greek dance. We joined in with them and we ended up doing a Greek dance with strangers. It’s the best. It’s an amazing, ultimate culture explosion.
One of my favorites, reminiscing on the positive side was I get to play in Australia Open until the fifteen. My dad got to caddy for me and it was against some of the best players in the world. I’m on this amazing course with spectators and I ended up begging the spectators. I remember burning a hole early on and I was like, “On the leaderboard, my name was near the top.” Above Jordan Spieth and it was a cool moment to see a little bit of that dream be fulfilled. It’s those fun moments, the memories that we get to look back on those experiences. I don’t think we’ll ever regret having experiences versus having things. Owning things versus going on experiences don’t even compare in my mind because the things can come and go, but the memories are what make a lifetime.
The biggest thing that I love to think about often and what motivates me a lot is imagining myself on my death bed, which can sound a bit morbid from just first hearing it. If you were lying on your death bed and you were looking back on your life, “What would you have regretted not doing?” I don’t think we’re going to regret not having something like, “I never got that Ferrari.” We’re going to regret not having spent more time with our loved ones, not having traveled to places, done things, and experienced life. Those are going to be the bigger moments.
I played golf one time and a couple of guys were like, “We’re never going to look back and say, ‘I regret going and playing golf. I should’ve been working.’” We’re always going to be working. Let’s have some fun along the way and it’s important. One of the things that we wanted to chat about a little bit is about presence, being present and also dealing with anxiety. This is definitely the biggest topic that needs to be discussed in our generation and the generation to come. Society, in general, is dealing with anxiety. What have you learned in the process of overcoming or having anxiety in life or situations? When that pops up and what does it stem from?
Life is going to be a journey figuring out the anxiety. I don’t think that I mastered how to deal with it yet, I never used even to have it. As a child, I look back on my life and I realized that I was depressed as a middle school child. I was antisocial and I didn’t know how to talk to people. Being such an extrovert, I was drained because I wasn’t doing that. I wasn’t talking to people and I wasn’t filling myself up. It was making me depressed all the time and it would make me not want to talk to people. Throughout my life, I experienced a lot of loss and that amplified it. I went through a long period of being depressed and not wanting to do anything with my life, not having any motivations or goals. That was such a mentality that I had for the longest time. I can’t even believe that I don’t have that anymore. Looking back on it, that felt like that was it. I was going to be depressed forever and never going to do anything. Both of those went hand in hand.
When I first moved here, I dealt with a lot of the depression because being alone, I had to figure out a way to come out of that. I had stopped taking the medication that I had been taking for a while because I wanted not to be dependent upon it. I wanted to figure out other ways to cope with it and that’s what I did. Depression may also be something I deal with throughout my life, but the goal is to not. I have managed a way to be able to motivate myself and when I feel myself getting down, I was like, “Time to go take myself out. Let’s go see a movie and get some ice cream.” Do whatever I need to be able to get better and providing that self-love, that has helped me overcome those moments. I’m always reminding myself of the things that I’ve done right and realized the small little goals. This has become more on depression and anxiety, but the biggest thing that has helped me is also set small goals, especially on days when I’m feeling more depressed. I would set a to-do list.
It is being able to have little things that I can check off, which gives me enough motivation to keep getting through the day. It’s like, “Look at all of the things you did. You did a good job. It’s okay that you didn’t do big things, you still accomplished something and that is okay. This was one of those down days, not every day has to be a super uplifting one.” In terms of anxiety, whenever I have moments and there are things that I know I’m going to be anxious about, things surprise me in random or flare up out of nowhere, after that moment I will sit with myself and try to analyze, “Why was I anxious? What is that stemming from?” That helps me if I know I’m going to encounter that situation again.
Sometimes there are moments that happen where I don’t expect it to happen. It occurs and I have to separate myself from the situation, go into the bathroom and breathe. If it’s something I know I’m going to encounter a lot like large groups of people sometimes make me anxious, which is funny because extra relations would be the most exciting thing, but sometimes there’s an overload. I know I have to sit with myself, go separate, breathe, and then mentally prepare myself to go back into that situation. The biggest thing is preparing yourself knowing that you’re going to be experiencing those moments so it’s not a surprise.
One of the quotes I love by Loretta Breuning, she said, “Celebrating small steps triggers more dopamine than saving it all up for one big achievement.” It’s true. We need to create achievable small wins so that we can celebrate the progress that we are making instead of trying to be accomplishing these insanely big goals that aren’t realistic and aren’t going to be attainable in the short run anyway. I love this concept of stacking the deck in our favor. How can we stack the deck in our favor instead of stacking it against us? Life’s already hard enough, why not stack in it our favor? Small wins and small goals that are attainable, that’s such a practical tool that we can use when we are feeling on the other end of the spectrum. That’s a helpful trick or tool.
The cool thing about what you shared too is that it shows a good degree of self-awareness, you’ve got to have to be able to self-observe before you can self-correct and that’s a big part of the process. The first step is always being able to see yourself truly, and then you can start applying the correction. The other thing is, believing that it’s possible. In the process of moving, being in that place of experiencing a lot of depression, into a place where you’re looking back on that and saying, “That was funny.” It doesn’t matter where you’re at in life, we’re always going to be in the process of becoming, and that’s why we’re on this show. For that process for you, what role did belief play that you can overcome these feelings or that you can change, that you can grow?
I hit a point and it was like hitting rock bottom. I remember one night sitting at my kitchen table, the apartment was dark, it was nighttime and it was 2:00 AM and I was depressed. I felt lonely and I was like, “Where am I going with my life? What am I going to do?” At that point, I can only go two ways from this, I can either kill myself or I can be motivated and go on. I don’t want to die. I want to contribute to this world, I’m going to choose the other option and I got to commit to that. Ever since that moment, I haven’t let myself get to that point again. If I ever feel myself going down, that you want to contribute to this world, there is more for you. You don’t need to go down that path, find a way to get motivated again. I realized, “What do I want out of this life?” It was to do more than be sad and depressed. For people out there that are experiencing the same thing, there is a purpose for you.
Something we’ve talked about a lot in our Bible study is that there is no pain without purpose and the time that you’re going through when you’re experiencing these feelings is going to help you in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s helping somebody else or being able to realize something about yourself maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced, forcing you to spend time with yourself. I don’t know what it’s going to be for you, but know there’s a reason in that. There’s always a bigger purpose in all of it.
In Hebrews, it’s all about Jesus being perfected through suffering. If Jesus perfected suffering, then Lord knows we’re going to be suffering. Suffering is a blessing in that sense because there’s no growth without suffering. Same in the gym, if we’re not sweating and hurting in a good way, we’re not growing, we’re not getting stronger and we’re not getting more fit. The same is through in life. God is not asking us to do anything that he hasn’t already done. We’re such a blessing.
The two main things that you’re highlighting that are huge, is first, this quote, “It’s a lot easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” In those places, it’s not about changing your thinking and then acting after you’ve changed your thinking, it’s about acting, which then changes your thinking. I don’t feel like this, but I’m going to choose to do this because I know it’s what’s best for me even if I don’t feel like it and then you start feeling like you do. Choose to act. Choose to go love yourself by going to a movie, by getting ice cream. Choose to do something worthwhile even if you don’t have the energy to, and you’ll start feeling more like it. That’s one part.
The other part is the identity, the purpose and the calling that we have in life. That is the great elixir for all of us is, are you living on purpose, on a mission? Do you have a goal for what you’re doing in this world and for the life that you’ve been given? That purpose, that vision, that calling gives us so much life. Without that, life loses a lot of meaning and ultimately, God gives us the ultimate meaning in life, which if you want to learn more, go to the Bible, that’s the best place to find it. Those are important pieces even in this whole topic in general. To circle back where we were at before, being comfortable with yourself is a big part of it. What has been the struggle or ground you’ve gained in being comfortable with yourself?
Having moments realizing that I need to figure things out for myself and not always depending on other people, because being the youngest in my family, I was always the baby. It’s the nature of being the youngest child and especially I was also the only girl. My dad gave me a special treatment too, I was spoiled. Growing up being in such a loving, comfortable environment, I would always ask people’s advice for things. I was indecisive. I was the worst in making decisions. It would drive my family nuts because I could not decide. I would always choose the middle option if there was one. That’s because I was never forced to have to make a decision.
There were always other people there that I could ask their opinion like, “What do you think I should do?” Being out here, even though I live with family, there have been many moments where I will be unsure like, “Should I do this thing or that thing?” I’ll have a moment where I’ll even get up and start walking over to my brother’s room to be able to ask them, him or his wife, like, “What do you think about this?” I’ll stop myself and I’ll go sit back down and be like, “You make a decision. You figure this out.” I’ve done that for so many things and it’s the most liberating thing because it makes me feel I’m going to be okay in the world. If I ever encounter a problem and I’m by myself, I’ll be able to figure it out. I don’t have to phone a friend or call my mom. I can make a decision then and there and move on. It takes a lot of time and a lot of stress out of life knowing that I have the power to make the decision. I don’t need to wait for somebody else’s say.
Responsibility is such a blessing. Having more responsibilities helps us be better humans. That’s the reality. Honestly, it does entail embracing failure. The more responsibility to take, the more likely you’re going to experience failure and that’s a good thing because that teaches us what not to do so we can learn what to do and it’s an important process, we need it. A couple more things before we round out here, hearing from others about Oksanna, one of the comments was, “She has amazing wisdom about her and an amazing ability to be with people of all ages and relate to people where they are from or where they’re at.” Part of this comes from probably a wide range of travel and experiences and also having to develop probably faster than most of your peers, what are those traits? What do you attribute those traits to?
It’s been the craziest thing. I never realized that I had a different way I thought about things until I moved down here, many times I would talk to people and meeting them. Age wouldn’t even come up and then when it would, they would be surprised, they’ll be like, “You’re nineteen? I thought you were 25.” I’m like, “Thank you.” The interesting thing I’ve realized is that the more people that would tell me like, “I thought you were 24 or 26,” or whatever it is, the more I started putting that expectation on myself to have to be that age. I came to a point where I realized like, “You are nineteen, it’s okay to be that. You don’t need to be more than you are.” If you follow those thoughts and those urges to act a certain way, to say a certain thing, you don’t have to try and not do that because you’re catering toward a certain mentality you want people to think you have. That’s ridiculous, that’s tiring. I’m finally comfortable being how I am as a person.
The biggest part of it is, in my family’s story, having an experience of loss and that was losing my dad when I was fifteen. That whole process was several months of seeing him slowly decline. I went from being a kid with no problems, I had problems on my own but they were childish, they didn’t mean much but then it became so much empathy for my family and I was worried. The worry forced me to try and be everything I could for my mom and help her get through the process. She had a difficult time and I would be saying, “Mom, do you want some food?” I would make her food, I would take her out to go places or whatever it was that I could do to make her feel better.Live a bold life, because otherwise what’s the point? Click To Tweet
I wanted to make everyone feel okay and to put everybody else’s thoughts and concerns and their worries before my own, it humbled me in a way that then I didn’t think about the childish thoughts that I used to have, it didn’t matter as much anymore. Life became much more serious and I realized that there’s a purpose in life and it’s a fragile thing and I don’t want to waste it. I want to make sure I’m living a meaningful life and I’m bringing joy to people when I can and making their lives better.
I want to make everybody happy. That’s where it started from and it’s grown. Also, being surrounded by older people all the time, family members that were either elderly or older than me, I would have a lot of conversations with them and I would learn grander ideas about the world. I couldn’t help but make up my own observations of the world and think of it in this much grander perspective. I often think of it as I’m above looking down and seeing life and seeing the purpose for it all. Sometimes my brain, I get ahead of it because it’s too broad. What does life mean? What is the purpose of life? All of those questions.
All of those things played a part in being how I am. Surrounding myself with the right kinds of people and people that have expanded my brain, I even feel that way with you. A lot of times in our conversations, I could feel my brain expanding. In the beginning, I was overwhelmed, I would be intimidated to talk to you because I didn’t know where the conversation was going to go if I was going to be able to be on the same level and respond with intelligent thoughts. It’s got to a point where the thoughts that come out of me, they don’t have to be intelligent thoughts, it’s whatever it is that is my thought and that’s how you have a conversation.
The process of becoming yourself, that’s such an important process and one that doesn’t get discussed much because we’re always trying to become something but we don’t always associate that with becoming our self. The most important process is becoming you and it’s harder than we’d expect. That’s such a great example of being perfected through suffering. While incredibly hard, and I can’t imagine what a gift at the same time that God bestowed on you, who knows what purpose to come, but already what he’s done through you because of that. It’s always easier in hindsight, looking back and seeing what God is doing. As a reminder for all of us, in those moments, there’s a plan that will redeem that suffering for good and we have to trust the one that’s holding our hand in that, which is hopefully God. People love your creativity. You have the creative juices flowing. You have the YouTube channel, Osi Talks. Where do you get your creativity from? Where do you get the most inspiration from?
It stems from my childhood. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with friends and letting creativity and imagination run wild. I did watch a whole lot of television, but I had a lot of moments where I was able to let my creative juices flow and follow that and that’s what led to me doing those videos with my friends. In the beginning, they were random things. I have another YouTube channel, I’m not going to tell you the name of it, but there’s another YouTube channel I made with a friend even longer ago, on that, I made some domino videos, domino stop motion.
We’d be taking pictures and it was a picture that date would automatically appear on the bottom, you can see these pictures and there’s this giant date in the bottom and it looks terrible. In the photos, I was holding my camera so it’s off in different angles. It’s the worst stop motion ever. I tried it because I was inspired. I had seen somebody else do it and I thought that looks fun. I gave it a go, I looked at it and I said, “Maybe that wasn’t good.” We moved onto the next thing, made some random music videos to some songs. Following whatever creative idea, whatever comes to my mind and running with it and seeing and learning like, “Was that a good idea or a bad one? Maybe that one wasn’t so good, but we’re going to keep going.” There are many videos that I make and I edit. I have a finished video and then I never upload it because I don’t like it in the end and that’s okay too. It’s the fine-tuning process, being okay with having that failure. It’s not a failure, but it’s learning that not everything you make is going to be amazing, but that’s okay because that’s getting you towards the point of making something that is amazing.
Exercising creativity, it’s such a muscle. Start working it out. We need to work out to get stronger, the same as when you work out to get more creative. What is providing the most inspiration for the YouTube channel for you?
When I look at other channels, I try not to compare myself to other people. A lot of inspiration comes from seeing the channels out there. There are definitely many moments where I will be like, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. It’s such a long process, it’s not going anywhere.” I’ll even look back at my old videos. That’s the biggest thing. I do enjoy looking at other channels to get inspired for future videos, but what keeps me motivated is looking back at those videos. Remembering what young Oksanna wanted and what’s her motivation was. She enjoyed videos because it was a passion. She had fun making them. That was the underlying philosophy.
That’s my philosophy in life, if you’re doing something because you’re passionate about and then you stop becoming passionate about it and it’s time to reevaluate why you’re doing it in the first place. What has changed? What has made you lose that passion? That’s what life should be, finding out a way to do your passion and to get paid for it. That’s the sweet harmony there. I’m making them for other people, but ultimately making them for myself and as memories and that’s what the vlogs are. A lot of trips I go on, I’ll record it, even if it’s a random hike with a friend because I can look back on that and be like, “That was a sweet day. That was a good memory.” Even if nobody else cares about it, I care about it. That’s something I’m always going to want to do, even if it never goes anywhere else.
It’s an itch that you have to scratch regardless of what comes. What is the vision for the YouTube channel or the vision for yourself? You’ve got a trip upcoming and some travels, give us a snapshot of what’s next and what the vision to come is.
It’s interesting timing that we’re doing this because I finally realized what my channel is going to be. I’ve talked to a lot of people and I would share about my channel, they’ll be like, “What videos do you make?” I say, “Travel videos but it isn’t that, I do make videos of my travels, but the ultimate goal is to go out in life and experience things and blindly go into them.” That’s the way I’ve lived my life, I mess up a lot and I laugh at that, that’s become the normal thing to happen. It is being able to experience these things and make a video explaining what not to do.
I want to help people not to have to go through the same things that I’ve gone through. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like, I would like to make travel-related things, but that’s not going to be the sole purpose. The sole purpose is helping people, answering their questions and helping them so that they don’t have to experience things the same way I do. They can experience it hopefully a lot less stress and they can have more fun with it and maybe they would laugh while watching my videos along the way and feel they have a friend going along with them. I want it to feel like a friend that’s through the screen, wanting to be there for you.
It’s a friend for the experiences of life.
That should be my tagline. I was debating a lot what was going to be next for me if I was going to stay in LA or if I was going to go somewhere else because I had taken a year off from school. I have an Associate’s degree from my school back in Maryland, but I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue more than that or if I was going to come out to LA, if it was going to go well, and I’ll find a job. I’ve learned from this whole process that I need to pursue that still. I don’t think I’m ready to close that chapter of school and that whole experience.
Going to a community college, I didn’t get the experience of being in a culture and being in a dorm and having all these clubs, living out of school. That was something that I had always wondered about as a child. Being homeschooled, I never got a high school experience. I always dreamed of that, I wanted to know what it was like. It’s something I need to do. In the grand scheme of life, I’m nineteen and this school in England is a three-year program, by the time I’m done, I’ll be 22 turning 23, and that’s still young. There’s still so much more life to live after that. At least I’ll never have to wonder what it could have been like.
To live in England has always been a dream of mine, I don’t know why. I love the culture and the teatime and the accents, all of that. I’ve been to England twice and each time I’ve been there, it has felt like home. I could see myself staying here, walking around these streets and I was comfortable. I’ve only ever experienced that in Amsterdam as well. Everywhere else, I’ve been to Greece, Italy, France, and I didn’t feel that way. It’s a sign for me, the fact that I felt that feeling. It’s there for a reason and I always knew I wanted to live there and then this opportunity arose and I was like, “This is a way to do both those things. Get the degree, have that experience, and live in England.” If I don’t like it, I can always come back but at least I’ve done it and that’s a chapter closed, thing checked off the box of life and I can move on to a new experience.
What does being an up and comer mean to you?
It’s always being willing to go out and try new things and live a bold life because otherwise, what’s the point? If you live in fear and you end up having all of these what-ifs, then that’s going to be unrest in your soul. Doing those things that you dream of doing, what if it’s a silly thing or whatever it is, do that thing and check it off your box. If you don’t like it, move on, but at least you’ve done it, get the full experience out of life because there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to do that.
The final question, if you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what message would you say? What reminder do you want everyone to receive each morning in a text?
“Hello, good morning. Do something awesome,” or “You’re going to do something awesome.” I feel that’s something that I would have wanted to hear when I was going through all those moments, somebody that believed in me and would encourage me that would go far.This is the only body that you’re ever going to get, you need to treat it well and love yourself. Click To Tweet
Oksanna, this has been fun. Give them a shout-out to the links. Where can they find you?
Oksanna, until next time, thanks for coming on.
Thank you for having me.
For all you following, we hope you have an up and coming week.
About Oksanna Shulgach
Oksanna Shulgach is a YouTuber, traveler, and aspiring entrepreneur. Her goal through YouTube Is to motivate people to live bold lives without regrets. She is passionate about travel, her family, and all things related to creating and experiencing life.
In this episode, Thane and Oksanna chat about what it’s like to be a YouTuber from who inspired her to the future plans with her channel, Osi Talks. They talk of the lessons that come from being your own boss and the difficulties surrounding living in L.A. From mental health struggles, to being comfortable with yourself, to embracing responsibilities, and everywhere in-between – this conversation is one you won’t want to miss.
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