YouTuber Kahlen Barry explains how he sets healthy boundaries
We reach out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a pioneer on the internet.
This week we caught up with Kahlen Barry via email. The popular YouTuber has more than 248,000 subscribers across Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and TIC Tac. Besides being a musical artist, he is known for his stories and content on astrology, horoscopes, conspiracy theories, and social issues.
The interview below has been condensed and edited.
What’s the first thing you do to start your day online?
I check my social media notifications and emails.
What would you like to know when you first started out as a designer?
Knowing my worth. I have definitely done deals in the past that were not what I deserved. Also, I have supported things or people that I shouldn’t have had in this industry. I know better now.
When did you realize you had broken through and become a successful designer?
I had a hard time with the idea of success and it’s easy in an industry like this to compare to others. I have definitely accepted more and celebrated my successes now. I feel very grateful to be able to do what I love as a career and to be able to support myself financially through my passions. I realized that I was really successful when I had the freedom to do what I loved as a job.
If you hadn’t become a creator, what would you do now?
I would definitely still be creating in one aspect or another. I’ve been making music since I was 14. By building a presence on social networks, I was lucky to be able to push this passion even further. I would definitely always create music whether I do it or not. The same goes with acting.
What’s one thing you do to manage your relationship with your fans?
Honestly, set healthy boundaries. When I first started social media, I really gave a lot of energy to the point where I didn’t have so much to myself anymore. I just felt so much love from the people who supported me that I didn’t want to turn off my phone and spent hours replying to dms and tweets. I also talked about everything under the sun in my personal life. Now that I have grown up I have realized that there has to be a level of intimacy and also of grace with myself. It doesn’t matter if I have to turn off social media and live more in the present sometimes. I am very interactive with the people who support me and always will be because I am more than lucky to have them in my life. I just have to make sure I have a good balance.
What do you think of the idea of canceling the culture?
I believe the culture of cancellation exists, but sometimes I feel like people are wrong when they are held responsible for being “canceled”. People called out for their harmful behavior tend to dismiss valid criticism or outrage from people such as “just cancel the culture”. It is important to listen to those who sometimes challenge you to understand the harm in something you may have done or said. It is not all a personal attack.
How much of your real self do you show online?
I think I am very honest about who I am online. Sometimes a little too much, but I’ve also noticed sometimes that I don’t share my personal life as much as I did when I was younger. I think it’s a way to protect myself but I’m learning to open up more specifically to things that are universal like grief and the human experience through my art, like my music. I think that being an internet personality it’s super important to be yourself and not pretend to be someone you’re not. There will always be other people who will connect with who you are. That’s what’s cool about the internet and the world, everyone is going to attract their audience. You will find yours.
What’s one of the best interactions you’ve ever had with someone following you?
One of my followers interviewed me about my music for a documentary for their film class. I felt very honored that they enjoyed my music enough to want to use me as a subject for their project. We hit it off so well that she’s now my best friend.
What is your most valuable tool?
My voice. I feel that communication is very important to me. Whether it’s talking about big issues or writing songs that make others feel seen and heard. As Gemini, this makes a lot of sense because we are ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication.
What is holding you accountable?
My family and friends. I really trust the opinions of my relatives. They keep me anchored in the very wild space in which I find myself. If I ever had to start becoming someone I didn’t like, they would tell me about it before I had a chance to object. It is super important not to surround yourself with men yes but with people who really care about your well-being and your growth as a human.
Thanks, Kahlen, for speaking with us!
We’ll be running a new Q&A with a creator every week, so send an email to [email protected] for a chance to be included.
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* First published: September 16, 2021, 6:00 a.m. CDT
Grace Stanley is a journalist who covers tips and tricks for creators and influencers. She is also a social media manager for Nautilus Magazine and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.