In FJ We Trust
Frank James: YouTuber, Podcaster, all-around cool & attractive guy.
If you haven't heard of FJ, buckle in and get ready to binge-watch because once you start, you won’t be able to stop.
I initially found Frank’s channel this past spring when I took the 16 Personalities test and was categorized as an INFJ. Struggling with the frustration and general dreadfulness of dating in the age of social media, a quick YouTube search for Dating + INFJ led me straight to Frank. “INFJ: 10 Reasons Why You’re Still Single” was the first video I watched and from there, I was an instant subscriber.
A lot of Frank’s content focuses on personality typology based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ( MBTI ). It's not the most obvious conclusion to connect typology with mental health, but I’d argue it’s all intrinsically linked. The MBTI scale is just a vehicle to help us understand our brain’s wiring and the way we perceive and judge the world around us.
Of course, anxiety and depression is born from the wiring of our brain. This, for me at least, is why typology leaves me feeling better equipped to understand why I feel the way I do and why I react to situations the way I do. It explains why some people get super overwhelmed and drained from certain situations, and why others are completely unaffected by the same set of circumstances. Knowing your “type” at the very least can give you a better understanding of what makes you react or retreat, and that can be a powerful tool in learning to manage your mental health.
After taking the MBTI test again later in the summer, My results scored me as an INFP. Of course, that didn’t stop me from enjoying Frank’s content. Soon after I made the INFP connection, I watched an FJ video where he discussed the differences between INFJ and INFP, and it further validated my recent results. (The INFP type tends to take things super personally and feels a constant need to over-explain their intent. Ummmmm, hi).
Why I believe I’m so drawn to Frank, along with so many others (hundreds of thousands, the majority being millennial women) is because I haven't found it to be very common to come across men that are so openly vulnerable about personal growth and development, depression, anxiety, and the like - so we flock to Frank like moths to a flame. Frank says all the things so many of us think and deal with in our own lives, plus he’s clever and funny, smart and creative, emotive and relatable. This is exactly why I wanted to speak to Frank about Imposter Syndrome and how it manifests in his life - especially with his growing success and ever-increasing follower count.
My biggest takeaway from speaking with Frank is that Imposter Syndrome, at the very root, is all about ego. Pair growing popularity with an internal struggle of staying true to your interests vs. giving people what they want, and it can be an increasingly difficult task to feel like you’re staying on track. This is especially relevant in the YouTube space, as engagement is directly tied to revenue. It’s difficult to want to commit to creating content that you know is not going to perform well based on past data. In the beginning of any new project, there’s a freedom in knowing that there’s not many people paying attention, and that gives you room to do whatever you want. Once you find success, in whatever capacity that is, it can start to feel like you’re expected to deliver certain content. It’s what you’re known for, so you better stick to what you know. (How many times have we heard people complain that certain celebrities and influencers should “stay in their lane”)?
“Do I know enough about this? Do people care? Am I presenting this in a relatable way?
While I’m a fan of every video Frank releases, it’s not the more humorous skits that drew me in initially - it’s his personal vlogs and advice videos. I suppose I can see why they’re not big engagement cash cows, but authenticity has always been the biggest draw for me in any content that I seek. Numbers don't lie, so I can understand why it’s a struggle for Frank to continue investing time in videos that aren't as successful as others. Also, as the channel continues to grow, Frank says he feels an increasing awareness to be careful of what he says - increased popularity naturally boosts a person’s perceived authority. There's a greater responsibility to make sure you've done your research, because people are specifically coming to you for information.
“Someone’s going to find out... I’ve done something that’s tricked them.”
If that’s not the perfect tagline for Imposter Syndrome, I don’t know what is.
For Frank, a growing audience equals a bigger fear of being found out, for someone to “figure it out” that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that he’s a fraud. But what does that even mean? There’s always going to be people that disagree with you, you can’t please everyone. Imposter Syndrome is, by nature, an irrational way of thinking - but it’s exactly why it’s so important to talk about. After all, each and every one of us cannot escape the fact that we’re all just people. Not a person on this Earth is exempt from emotions, doubts, and struggles. You will never see yourself objectively the same way others do, so there’s always going to be this separation. I don’t think any of us can truly understand how anyone else views us - even the people closest to us - and that’s kind of terrifying.
“You always have to evaluate. It’s always good in art to push yourself further and further. You’re constantly having to fake it because you’re going into uncharted territory.”
Fake it ‘til you make it: I asked Frank how he felt about this motto, which I personally use quite often. My struggle is in recognizing that there naturally comes a point when you’re no longer faking it - but once you’ve made it, it can be hard to turn off the “fake it” aspect and believe that you actually do know what you’re doing, and you didn’t get to where you are by pure luck. Confidence is everything. Then again, at a certain point it doesn’t really matter if you know what you’re doing. “Faking it” is all about doing it anyway, regardless of your expertise, and being confident in yourself. People can smell self doubt from a mile away.
In this era of social media overload, It’s so hard not to focus on the numbers. Popularity is, on a basic level, a measuring stick for how likeable you are - the larger your following, the more “proof” there is that you have value and that you’re worth paying attention to. This all can make me feel really gross thinking too much about it, but there’s truth to it. Add in the fact that my career choice is based on selling myself and my talents, I think that’s why I am so intimidated by successful, talented people. There’s a struggle of feeling inferior, that they’re popular because they’re better than me, and I’m “less than”. All because there are big numbers next to the person’s name. And when those numbers represent the potential to monetize yourself and your personal image - it’s even more intimidating.
I don’t want to feel this way - it’s a big reason why I started this project. I want to grow my circle. I want to build community, and I don’t want to be afraid to talk to someone because I think they’re better than me. We all have things we can learn from each other, and Frank is teaching me a lot.
Check out Frank’s channel here - and don’t forget to smash Like and subscribe.