Photo courtesy of SoSonia.

This 17-Year-Old Is Redefining Vlogging

with her own creative vision

In the 11 years since "Me at the zoo" was first uploaded, YouTube has managed to carve out a space in which nearly everyone can explore nearly everything, from the mainstream to niche. It has given people a platform to share thoughts and ideas (and, yes, also to troll) in comment sections, allowed up-and-coming musicians to cast a wider net than ever before, and inevitably sparked a new form of art: vlogging. Yet, while the current vlogging sphere is saturated with beauty tutorials, shopping hauls, and other forms of self-expression, there aren't many who consistently share deep, personal stories. Luckily, SoSonia is working to change that.

For over two years, the 17-year-old has been exploring various art forms—from painting, to singing, to writing poetry—to create visual stories that read like indie short films. Since joining forces with SoulPancake, the Indonesian native has spread her self-produced videos to an even wider audience, giving more users a chance to relate to coming-of-age issues like dealing with various frustrations, finding your creative process, and, in her latest video, saying goodbye to friends.

Watch SoSonia's latest video, and check out our interview with her below.

Did you grow up watching a lot of YouTube vloggers?

Most definitely. Growing up, I saw the world of YouTube as such an exciting and expressive place for people of all ages. Being a part of this community has been such an amazing experience.  

When did you first decide to document your life and experiences on YouTube?

When I realized how freeing it was! All of a sudden, I realized making videos was the tool that could help me make sense of the mess of thoughts that were tangled up in my mind. It was not only documenting my life, but it was processing and problem solving. Putting my life online is intimidating, but keeping track of my experiences is a method of self-talk for me, and the motivation I've gained from it makes it all worthwhile. This has allowed me to enter a community full of people trying to express themselves, and it has given me a stage on which to do the same.

How has it been to grow up in such a public space?

It makes me feel extremely connected and vulnerable. You most definitely have to open yourself up for people to view you how they want to. But it also allowed more people to understand elements of my personality that would otherwise be impossible to explain. I am a visual person, and it was so helpful to be public with the world as my mind sees it. I suddenly felt more understood. I really hope that as I grow, people will be able to see me as not just an artist and filmmaker but as a human who is constantly growing. It’s a thrill to have a community that can see me and my mind’s creations from a young age.

Can you walk us through your creative process behind creating a new video?

Creating is a part of my everyday life. My videos are very reflective of what I am experiencing—it’s no longer holding in all of my thoughts but rather letting them be expressed. The outline of my creative process is that I will see my thoughts visually, and then I figure out how to recreate that in a format that others can see as well. My creativity is fueled by art supplies, daily life, and too much coffee. To get to know my process, you would need to spend a day with me, from writing out my script on coffee-stained scraps of paper, to filming carelessly with my camera covered in paint, to producing tedious stop motion pieces. 

What have you found to be the most challenging part of making your own videos?

Self-doubt. This can consume you, along with anxiety. There is so much pressure when you are in control of your art. You feel like you are always at fault if people don’t like it. Everyone runs into anxiety at some point in the process of creation. The most challenging part of making my own videos is trying to meet a certain standard and not letting my vision down. As much as I try to avoid that point in the process, it always seems to find its way into my creative space, no matter how optimistic the world I live in is. Nevertheless, I keep pushing through the doubt because if what I create makes even one person a little bit happier, then all the challenges are worth it.

Are there more artistic mediums that you'd like to explore?

Most definitely. I am someone who lives in color with paint all over my skin and everything I own. I am very passionate about painting and designing and want to pursue it further. I am also a writer, and I live with a pen by my side. I recently finished writing a book of short stories and poems. I am also very passionate about performance and music. That is why filmmaking is such a great platform—for someone who enjoys many art forms, it allows you to morph together all these forms of art into your final piece. I found that videos were such a versatile platform. I could not only tell stories but showcase my music, poetry, painting, performance, and every other art form I enjoy.

What's your advice for other young girls who are interested in creating videos?

No matter who you are or what your age is, it is never too late or too early to figure out how you want to express your thoughts. My advice to anyone thinking creating videos is to go into it with your own passions and to be vulnerable. The Internet is a terrifying world that no one understands, but people are always drawn to honesty. So talk about what you know and what you care about. And what I definitely want to tell anyone that wants to create videos is: Have a blast in the process. In the end, there will be a final product that others might consume, but the process of creation belongs to you. Enjoy it, make it your own, and the final product will reflect you. The most satisfying part of making a video is the personal path you take to get there.