Music has always been a big part of my life and as cringe as it sounds, it helped me get through some pretty dark s**t. At night as the world came to a standstill, I would plug in my earphones and breathe a sigh of relief, no one could hurt me in this world of music I had created, no one could take away my identity. They say that your music taste says a lot about who you are as a person and the saying is largely true. When I was anxious or depressed the more harrowing melodies of Adele and Beyonce would drift seamlessly out of my earphones, allowing me to channel my anguish and hurt in a safe space. When I felt happy or wanted to get in the mood for a party, house music and ‘club tunes’ would pound my speakers as I danced around the room in ecstasy and delight. Regardless of how mainstream or not our music is, there is no denying that music can help us ‘feel’ better. Alongside reading, music was my biggest passion; when I sang out loud without a care in the world I felt free and when I danced to the beat of another world I felt ‘alive’ but when I sat and listened, that’s when the real s**t took place.
I used to be told that I would never be good enough, that there were people out there who were better than me and I would never make it, but they were wrong. I did make it, we all did and for me music helped me feel more confident. After being abused, I was taking into care at the age of 10 by my foster mum, and it was then that I discovered I had a talent for ‘music’. While I was in a toxic space before and still had an affinity for ‘music’, I was never encouraged to explore ‘music further’. At the age of 10, I received my first pair of earphones and despite the grainy, pre- ‘good tech’ sound, I was hopelessly in love. I listened to music in the bath, at the dinner table and on the bus, music became a huge part of who I was as a person and it felt good to finally succumb to its auditory pleasures. When my foster mum saw me in a year six play of ‘Ali Baba’ with me cast in the titular role, she believed that she should enroll me in theatre school, because and I quote ‘I was a triple threat’. Now as everyone knows parents, regardless of being biological or not all believe that their kids are great, even if it sounds like their kids are getting dragged underwater but the confidence boost it gave me was unreal.
After half a decade of abuse, finding music and being encouraged to explore how it could boost my self-esteem was quite possibly life changing. I began listening to songs to create new rhythms of my own and wrote lyrics when I felt sad and upset. It allowed me to channel all those foreign feelings that I had – anger, hurt, confusion, lust- into a medium that channeled my emotions in a safe, creative space. Everything changed when I went to secondary school and once again my confidence was knocked. The bullies were back and this time it was my own friends, rather than my step-mum, who decided to make me feel worthless and like s**t. They would pull my hair and hide my stuff, make fun out of the way that I looked and laughed if I dared have a crush on a ‘popular boy’. I knew that they were never my real friends to start with but I didn’t want to feel as alone as I did, so I played along with their charade because they made me feel like this was the ‘only type of friendship’ that I deserved. But music taught me differently; every Saturday I would become a different person and attend my stage school, were I was respected and praised for my ‘theatre talent’. I knew I wasn’t the best and never would be but I didn’t care. Seeing myself on stage, surrounded by other thespians as we bathed in the spotlight, was a dream come true for many of us. Through acting I could be someone else, through dance I could be the most confident woman that I aspired to be but it was through music that I could be my true authentic self.
I was auditioning for the lead role of Dorothy and listening to the soundtrack through my beat up headphones. I was up against other talented actresses who I believed were far better dancers and singers than me but I knew I had to put my all into it. I reminded myself of how I had won that school reading competition, where I had beaten off hundreds of ‘readers’ to win the school prize and do you know why I won? Because I was real, honest and let the nakedness of my emotions shine through my words. I had to do the same here and as I sang the audience held its breath, would I do it, would I let the music peer deep into my soul? I sang, I cried, at one point I even shouted, barely aware of what I was even doing in my own audition but somehow it worked and I landed the lead role. When I told my so-called friends they tried to make me question my own success and laughed at the notion of music helping me getting my s**t together but something changed that day, I knew I was worth more. I was 14 at the time, but it wasn’t until I was 16 that I finally stood up to the bullies and for the first time they questioned their motives. By this point I had been involved in the ‘music world’ for 6 years and I finally did what I should have done a long time ago, I ditched the fake friends and made new ones, because music taught me that I was worth so much more.
I entered competitions and sang in public, this brazen fearlessness showed me that I didn’t have to put up with peoples bulls**t anymore and could be free to be the person who I wanted to be. While I still lacked confidence, I was showing people that I was no longer a pushover and it was comment in my school year book that showed me how far I had come since I first entered the music world. K said that she was ‘sorry for anything ‘bullyish’ that she had ever done and that all those horrible things that she said and did to me was because she was insecure. She never saw herself as talented or particularly pretty and saw me as a threat because I didn’t know how talented I was. I could sing, act, dance and was ‘super smart’ and by her telling me that I had nothing she could be the one with all the power’. I later found out that she had a crush on a guy who liked me but never told me how he felt because he didn’t want to be seen as a social pariah.
Weirdly enough when I came to university, he reached out to me saying how much he liked me but knowing what I discovered after my ex friends confession, I didn’t answer back. How could I put into words how hurt he made me feel, that the only reason he was contacting me now was because I wore make up, had ‘real friends’ and thus wouldn’t be seen as a social pariah with me? Not a chance and when I met friends who loved me for who I was, I knew that I had music to thank yet again. You see music is all around us, at the parties that we go to and at the bars that we drink at. It was 2 Pac’s ‘Ghetto Gospel’ that was playing when I met one of my best friends and it was Lil Wayne that became the soundtrack to my first sexual experience. Even now, at the age of 23 music defines my biggest moments and has helped me become the more happier, confident woman that I am today. I have a long way to go but through music you too can be the person that you have always dreamed of being and that is you.
Has Music Helped You Get Through Some Dark s**t?
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