If you’re a fan of YouTube star Michelle Phan, you may have been wondering where she’s been for the past year. It turns out that Phan — who has over 8 million subscribers on YouTube and 2.1 million followers on Instagram — bought a one-way ticket to Switzerland with nothing more than a small suitcase and a deep desire to unplug.
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In an interview with Refinery29, Phan dishes on her depression, which resulted from her nonstop hustling as well as the constant pressure to keep up with her online presence.
“I was really sad and felt like I might be depressed. So I went online and took an ‘Are You Depressed?’ quiz,” explains Phan. “The first one said, ‘You are severely depressed.’ And then I opened up more tabs, took 10 different quizzes and got the same results. And that was a wake-up call for me.”
She knew that her Internet-fueled anxiety — plus the fact that she had worked so hard on EM Cosmetics, her collaboration with L’Oreal, before the brand ultimately failed in 2016 — would eventually lead to a breakdown. Phan recalls her thoughts at the time: “I can’t do this. I can’t just be this entrepreneur businesswoman, go 100 percent all the time, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast, and not mentally break down in some way.”
When she suddenly went off the grid — no new YouTube videos or Instagram posts for months — fans definitely noticed. Some even left her concerned messages, thinking that she had died. But she simply needed a serious break and some time away from the internet. “It was a way to show my followers that even someone like me needs a break; the pressure of being ‘on’ all the time is not realistic.”
And now the makeup guru is back in a big way. In 2015, her makeup-subscription company ipsy raised 100 million, so she decided to buy EM Cosmetics back from L’Oreal. Phan realized that she wanted to relaunch the brand and have total freedom to make her own decisions. She tells Refinery29, “My soul is in it and it’s something I’m truly invested in. It’s a company that’s really mine.”
The biggest life changes that Phan has made? She’s not afraid to fail, she focuses on the present and she lives her life for herself. Now that sounds like a recipe for success. Welcome back, Phan!
What Do YOU Think?
Have you taken an online quiz that helped you realize something about your health? Do you feel like you get burned out from work? What do you do to take a break and unplug?