Creator Voices: Romee Dussenbroek
Dutch creator Romee (pronounced Ro-may) recently celebrated her 24th birthday in the same place where she was born: Utrecht, “a big city somewhere in the Netherlands, Europe,” as she puts it. A travel and lifestyle vlogger, she has been documenting the items she’s been crossing off her bucket list, from getting her first tattoo to moving to New Zealand to bungee jumping into water. Nearly two years ago, however, Romee began documenting an unexpected challenge in her journey. Today, it is her hope to be a voice and a (digital) friend to those who share the same obstacles she has been confronting.
It was August 2020 when I ended up in the ER with a cough and pain in my ribs. What they thought was a lung embolism, turned out to be a malignant tumor.”
My whole life so far, I’ve been trying to live it to the fullest. With my bucket list in one hand and my camera in the other, I’ve always made sure I document as much as I can, because who doesn’t love looking back at those good ol’ days? And because I’ve also wanted my friends and family to be able to look back on those days, I one day decided to create a YouTube account and post my videos. Never with the intention to go viral -- only with the intention to share my life updates, travels and experiences with my inner circle. And then I had the biggest life update of them all…
It was August 2020 when I ended up in the ER with a cough and pain in my ribs. What they thought was a lung embolism, turned out to be a malignant tumor. I was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was a huge shock. I was 23, lived pretty healthy and had no medical issues before. And funny enough, my biggest concern was how I was going to tell everybody I got sick. I didn’t really have the mental energy to text everybody separately. Of course, I told those closest to me personally, but a month into my cancer journey, I decided to make a ‘life update’ video about it. This way, everybody could still hear my update from me, but I didn’t have to text everybody individually. It was just a simple sit-down video of me telling my story about how I found out I had cancer. No huge edits, only simple cuts. I think something about that simple video caught on, because a couple weeks went by and suddenly the video went viral.
...it is still super rough, but the community that has been created has really helped me stay positive and grounded.”
I didn’t know how to deal with that. All of a sudden, thousands of people were involved with my story: asking me how I was doing, sending me prayers, sharing their stories, and wanting updates. I had never experienced that before. But my first response was to start a YouTube series about my cancer journey, and my viewers stayed for the ride, which I am so extremely grateful for. I learned a lot along the way, and I am still learning, because this is all so new to me and so sudden in a period of my life that is supposed to be super rough. Don’t get me wrong, it is still super rough, but the community that has been created has really helped me stay positive and grounded.
I would love to share what I have learned so far, in the hopes that it might help you in the future.
The importance of vulnerability
I didn’t realize at the time, but I really opened up and was vulnerable enough for others to relate to my story. I know it’s a cliché, but it is so important to stay true to yourself. I’ve noticed that my viewers really appreciate my vulnerability. So that’s what I do. I share, not only the positive, but also the negative. I want to cry? I’ll cry. I want to be mad? I’ll be mad. It makes me feel good to know that I can 100% be myself and be able to make content that people appreciate and can relate to. And when things get serious, I try to keep the edit as simple as possible. There’s no need to cover up my emotions by editing.
Community is a compass and comfort
Without my community, I would be nowhere -- not on YouTube, not anywhere, mentally. They are your family. Appreciate them, interact with them, acknowledge them. I am always afraid to read through my comments -- because of trolls -- but the fact that there are so many others that outweigh the negativity and are truly there for me and support me lifts my mood and encourages and motivates me to keep on creating my videos. Sometimes the support can be super overwhelming (I’m not gonna lie), but then I take a few deep breaths, put my phone away and give myself some time to process. Then I get back out there and continue full force.
Embrace stepping back (but not from who you are)
And last but not least, Demi Lovato once sang, it’s ”Okay Not To Be Okay.” And it really is. If you don’t feel like filming, editing and uploading a video, DON’T. Your mental health is super important. You should be creating these videos for yourself, wanting to share it with the world. If you upload a video just for the ‘uploading’ part of it, that’s going to reflect on the video you put out there and that’s a shame. I have had my days where mentally I wasn’t ready to create a video, so I would give myself an extra week to do so, and I’d feel like that would really help me create better content and have my video come out even stronger.
The YouTube world is a complicated world. There’s something to learn about it every single day. I hope that you just find the right balance between YouTube and yourself in which you don’t lose who you are as a person. Love yourself and be happy with what you create, and that will totally reflect positively on your content.
I really hope to see you out there!