Emma Chamberlain’s YouTube videos unequivocally shaped our generation’s teenage years. Whether that be through her hilarious stream of consciousness in her vlogs, her relatable hatred of the high school system or her seemingly unhealthy obsession with coffee, the now-20-year-old quickly rose to success on the video streaming site.
Since leaving high school and moving out of her childhood home at 17, Chamberlain has spent the last three years working on understanding her future and how to navigate adulthood. In the process, she has moved several times within Los Angeles, signed a sponsorship with Louis Vuitton and developed a self-named coffee brand after her cold brew recipe gained her followers’ acclaim. The most impressive change Chamberlain has taken on in the past few years is a marked shift from the frantic, high-energy content she produced in her teens to more calm podcasts, relaxed, documentary-style videos and casual Instagram posts.
As Chamberlain grew into her new style, she experimented with podcasts and how to best convey her inner thoughts through the audio medium. After ceasing her first rendition of the series “Stupid Genius,” the launch of Chamberlain’s current podcast, “Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain,” is perhaps her most notable accomplishment. A year after its inception, the series ranked eighth on Spotify’s Podcast Charts of 2021.
In her episodes, which range anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, Chamberlain covers either a set topic for the week or holds an advice session, answering questions that her listeners send in. Some topics that she has covered in the past include her experience as an only child, navigating friendships during the pandemic and her tumultuous relationship with social media. In this series, Chamberlain constantly reminds us that taking the time to reflect on our emotions is necessary to creating a healthy lifestyle.
In one of my favorite episodes, “back to school,” Chamberlain recounts her experiences in high school and how the pressure of grades and college admissions led her into a constant state of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. She said she would often look in the mirror after receiving a bad grade on a test and see a different, uglier version of herself. In the pursuit of a prestigious college degree, Chamberlain took several AP and honors classes, and got stuck in the cycle of studying, sleeping and repeating everything the next day without time to relax or enjoy her hobbies.
Chamberlain advises her listeners in any stage of their education to refrain from taking classes that yield solely extrinsic rewards and instead pursue subjects they actually enjoy. She also recommends taking fewer advanced or difficult classes and spending more time pursuing hobbies and passions, if possible. After a semester of overloading myself with difficult classes with little time to do the things that made me happy, I began to see myself socially withdraw, resort to bad habits and feel dissatisfied with the person I was becoming. Chamberlain’s words inspired me to evaluate my life and make tangible changes to get myself back on track.
In “put your phone down,” Chamberlain provides a review of her week off from social media, an experiment to reduce her screen time to two hours per day. Though her life as an influencer and YouTube celebrity requires her to use social media platforms regularly, Chamberlain cited incredible improvements in her anxiety and depression from this endeavor. She noted that apps like Instagram often pressure us into posting new content and maintaining a perfect appearance at all times. Chamberlain expresses hope that in the future, she can stay true to herself and use Instagram in a way that is gratifying for herself rather than appealing to a certain audience. Even outside of social media, Chamberlain reduced her use of text messaging significantly, making time to talk to people when she could hold meaningful conversations with them.
I spent a great deal of time limiting my social media and phone usage after listening to that episode, increasing my independence and trying not to rely on my devices as a way to calm down or avoid my responsibilities throughout the semester. Now, I find myself able to go about my day without feeling obligated to respond to every text, incessantly check social media to keep myself updated and call someone at any free moment when I’m alone. Seeing Chamberlain successfully detach herself from social media gave me the courage to do the same and re-evaluate my friendships with others.
In the episode that resonated most with me, “growing up as an only child,” Chamberlain delves into her upbringing as the only child in a divorced family. As a result of her childhood, she likes to spend most of her time alone, tends to be more independent and less willing to ask others for help, is an overachiever and has a limited social battery at times. Chamberlain even goes as far as to say it’s very difficult for her to find someone her age that she fully connects with, as their experiences often differ dramatically.
As an only child myself (who knows few other only children), listening to Chamberlain made me feel understood for the first time. It’s very difficult for me to maintain relationships with others who don’t understand my need for alone time and self-reflection. Hearing Chamberlain helped me understand that, though I have my qualms with being an only child, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve struggled in the past to find a podcast that has held my interest, but since becoming an avid listener, I can’t recommend Chamberlain’s episodes enough. As she matured throughout this pandemic, I followed suit, learning more about myself and taking the time to accept life as it comes. Amid a flow of jarring burps, random asides and wildly entertaining anecdotes, “Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain” is a wonderful glimpse into the mind of the 20-year-old influencer. Through openly sharing her struggles with developing independence, Chamberlain allows us to see that growth is non-linear, and true maturity is the culmination of our struggles and how we learn from them.