In front of the camera, Hannah is charming, witty, and authentic; even when she touches on controversial subjects, her relentless optimism shines through. So when she announced she was opening up about her private struggles during and leading up to her last five years in the spotlight, we were all ears.
Hannah’s new book, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded, is a collection of personal essays that tell the story we don’t know about her life. We chatted with Hart about her memoir—out today!—and think you’re really going to love it.
HelloGiggles: Buffering is based on the written journals you’ve kept over the last 10 years. How did you decide to turn them into a memoir?
Hannah Hart: I’ve always wanted to write Buffering. I’ve always been a fan of narrative and memoir; I like the sincerity that comes with memoir and autobiography. It’s like, This is my account of what happened, the best I can tell. It’s like a case study.
HG: What was it like re-living such personal writing?
HH: Going through these journals actually gave me, in a weird way, sympathy for myself. Because we always think that we are the people that exist in this one moment right now; we don’t look at ourselves as our history of growth. The problems that we’re facing, the stuff we’re trying to overcome, feels constant. But the thing about having the journals to reflect on is that you can actually see, Oh! I forgot I ever felt that way. I really did get past that point. I have made some progress. It’s nice. It captures a feeling you might otherwise forget. It’s a good way to give yourself credit. I forgot how long I fought against being gay until I was reading these journals; I forgot I felt that way at 22. So in that way, I’m really grateful for journaling.
HG: Buffering is a very fitting title in more ways than one. You once said that boundaries + processing = buffering.
HH: In this age of constantly sharing our thoughts and feelings, what I really try and get across in Buffering is that it’s okay—if not necessary—to give yourself private space to process. You don’t immediately have to know exactly how you feel and share it. The buffering wheel is the thing that sits between you and the data while it’s being processed. So when you’re waiting for something to load, it’s buffering; it’s not ready for you to see it. That’s what this decade of journaling has been, and that’s what the accounts I’ve written about in the book have been: the data of my life that I have processed within my own private boundaries. Now I’m ready to share.
HG: Buffering comes out just a few weeks before you turn 30. Does it signify the ending of one chapter in your life, and the beginning of another?
HH: That’s a coincidence actually. It’s funny because the timing is in line, but it’s not inspired by being about to turn 30; it’s inspired by the fact that I proved I could do one book, and now I can do the second book that I’ve always wanted to do. My Drunk Kitchen the cookbook is so fun, and was so appropriate for the start of the channel. But now, five years later, that’s not all I want to share with the world. Buffering is really personal to Hannah, not Harto.
HG: Strangers often tell you, I feel like I know you. Is that weird to hear?
HH: I don’t want to say it’s weird, because weird has a negative connotation, but it is a unique way of experiencing life. I’m conscious of that.
HG: People tend to think they know public figures based on what they’ve read or seen. But in your case, because you’ve been so honest and open, it might actually be true. Do you think that your audience—people you’ve never met—genuinely knows you?
HH: I think that with traditional celebrities, you don’t see their journey. You see them after they’ve been fully formed and are now being presented to you as a product. Whereas my learning curve has been entirely public. My journey from My Drunk Kitchen Episode 1 to now is a journey that we all took together. So it does feel like, this stage of my life, you absolutely do know me! And Buffering is a testament to everything that happened before that, before this moment in my life began. So in a really big way it’s kind of funny because when people are like, I feel like I know you, I’m like, Well you do know now. But with people reading Buffering it’s like, Oh sh*t, now you know everything.
HG: You announced that you’d written Buffering in a video on your channel, and you were nervous at the time.
HH: I was REALLY nervous. It kind of goes back to that feeling of Oh, I feel like I know you. And you do know this period of time in my life, but let’s go from being friends to being close friends. Now you can really know me. The book deals with such intense topics, but it has lightness to it, because light and dark are two sides of the same coin. And life is funny. Buffering is raw, but not unreadable.
HG: Did you enjoy the writing aspect of it?
HH: I love writing. A lot. I’d like to continue to write. I studied literature in college, and being a writer is something I take really seriously. This is my heartbeat.
HG: The book’s title promises “unshared tales of a life fully loaded.” What can someone who’s been following you for a few years already expect to learn about you?
HH: I talk about self-harm a lot. I don’t think a lot of people know about that, because that’s something I didn’t really share. The journey to literally physically stop hurting myself was really hard. I’ve talked about depression, but I just never felt comfortable trying to talk about self-harm on the channel. How do you put that in a YouTube video? I didn’t want to put it in a video; I wanted to write about it. I wanted to explain why someone would hurt themselves. I think that’s a big part of the book that people aren’t expecting.
HG: Do you ever look back at one of your videos now and think about what you were dealing with behind the scenes at the time?
HH: Yeah. Like, every video. People know the person I’ve chosen to be, but they don’t know why I’m here or how I got here. There’s a lot that was going on during these last five years that I never talked about on the channel, because it simply wasn’t an appropriate way of discussing it, and a lot of stuff didn’t have solutions. In Buffering I talk a lot about my mother’s mental illness, and her period of homelessness. The whole time I’ve been doing my channel I’ve been struggling to try and get her help. But what am I going to say? It was also hopeless; there wasn’t an end to that story. I wrote Buffering because I was able to stabilize my mom this year. And that’s the story I really need people to hear, because I need people to see how f*cked up the mental health system is. So from the first chapter to the last chapter, there’s this thread that runs through it that I feel like helps people really understand the limitations that they don’t even know they are being limited by. I’m trying to shed some light on that.
HG: Do you have a favorite part of Buffering?
HH: I’m really fond of pages 1-277. [laughs] I have never spent so long on one project, and I’ve never ever read so many drafts. I’ve read this thing, worked with it, fine-tooth combed it. I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life. I can say that with absolute certainty. I’m really proud of the fact that Buffering goes somewhere. When I was working with my editor, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to present this so that you can read each chapter individually, but that the strength of the book is the completion. That’s the thing I’m particularly fond of.
HG: What’s next for you?
HH: I’m just gonna stay present. We can’t predict the future; we certainly don’t know what’s gonna happen in media and entertainment. So I’m just gonna stay present and proud of what I do. And when opportunities present themselves, I will continue to pour myself into them. It’s not like I’m looking at my life now like, How am I gonna turn this into the third book? I feel like that would be maddening. And you’re trying to force something. Everybody knows when something is forced. I don’t want to sell a book just because I can. I want to do something that’s worth something to someone.
HG: We loved Buffering, and we know your fans will too!
HH: I’m so grateful for everything. Imagine having so many people to hold yourself accountable to. People that are rooting for you, and proud of you, and encouraging to you. It’s literally the thing that keeps me wanting to continue in this space, in this industry. I’m in my own hamster wheel because I am genuinely motivated and touched every time! Every time I walk away from a meet and greet, I’m like, Wow. What a gift.