Don't Let Bullies Keep You From Achieving Your Dreams
People tell me all the time that there's no bullying problem at their school. They're probably unaware of the fact that 1 in every 7 students from kindergarten to senior year are bullied. For me, I can really remember it becoming an issue when I was 9 years old and discovered that I wanted to play the guitar. I had this dream that someday I'd have my own original song to play on the guitar and sing. However, playing the guitar is not a "normal" activity for a 9-year-old little girl to be so interested in. I thought my new guitar was coolest thing in the world so I went into school more excited than I had ever been about anything, and ready to tell my friends all about it. Apparently I was unaware of the fact that playing the guitar "wasn't cool." As a result, that made me different from the other girls, which made me an easy target to make fun of. My excitement was immediately shot down and I began to keep my guitar playing a secret.
In middle school things only got worse. My mom would pick me up from school and I would suddenly burst into the tears I had been holding in all day. The girls at school were so covertly hostile. They made me feel worthless. I didn't want to be here anymore. Suddenly, I couldn't even trust the girls that I thought were my best friends because they had proven not to be. Have you ever had to read a conversation between your two best friends about how much they hate you? A conversation that is pages and pages long that talks about how ugly, annoying and worthless you are. It was truly the most painful conversation I have ever read in my entire life. And that was it. Just like that I had lost every last ounce of self-confidence that had barely remained. Anyone who has been backstabbed by someone they cared about before knows that the pain feels similar to a broken heart. It felt like someone had ripped out my heart and threw it on the floor, smashing it into a million tiny pieces. And that was when my parents noticed something different about me. I was 13 years old and suffering from depression. I wasn't the same girl I was before. The girl who used to have the biggest smile and laugh about everything suddenly wanted nothing to do with her friends or family.
So that's when I shut my door. I would go home and walk straight to my room and simply shut the door. I would bail on school dances or hanging out with friends so I could go home and just shut my door. What they didn't know was that behind my slammed shut bedroom door I was playing. I played my guitar and sang my little heart out for hours and hours every day. I was coping with the pain in my own way. All that anger and pain and fury poured out into my songs. That's when I began to write. I wrote down everything that bothered me, and eventually those feelings turned into songs. Every song I began to write was closure. Once the song was finished, I was over it. And that's when I started to heal. Every day I was getting stronger, and every negative comment was becoming more and more irrelevant.
From there on out, it was nowhere near smooth sailing. There have been many slip up moments where someone would trigger those depressed feelings I dealt with in middle school. For example, transferring to a new high school as a sophomore once again made me an easy target to bully. The rumors, the comments, and people making fun of my singing and my songs was at an all time high in high school. But high school was also a time where I continued to work nonstop on my dream. I began to accomplish things that I never thought were possible. That little girl who dreamed of having one original song multiplied that by 10 when she recorded an 11-song full-length album in Nashville. Even though my whole life has been full of people telling me I can't, I continue to surprise myself with what I'm capable of. Looking back on those moments of pain and emotional torture, those moments were actually a blessing. They made me stronger. They made me discover so much about myself and about life. I've heard it said that, "All artists have been damaged or broken, so that's why they create." Based on what I've gone through, I could not agree more. To those of you who bullied me in my lifetime, your words can no longer stop me from making my dream into a reality. To those of you who have dreams, remember that a dream is simply just a goal that seems too far to reach. But the truth is, with hard work, passion, and a strong heart - no one can get in the way of your dreams.
(I want to invite you all to visit my website and sign up for my free fan club at www.jessiechris.com. You can tweet me at @thejessiechris and be sure to check out my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jessiechrismusic.)
Here's the video for a song I wrote, "Chameleon," while I was being bullied:
(Thank you to Cambio for allowing me to share my story and I want to wish everyone a very happy Holiday Season!)