As a former theater/choir kid who wasn’t exactly a model of popularity growing up, I believe it is very important that you watch this.
I made my contribution to the anti-bullying sentiment three years ago with a song called When Consequences Come. I wasn’t made aware of this issue because it’s a popular internet celebricause, I’ve been spending my entire adult life repairing the damage done by my childhood peers.
Believe me, I know we can’t shield our children from adversity; we certainly don’t want to create a generation of wusses with no tolerance for hardship. But even as a high school kid, objectively knowing that none of the crap I went through would last long, it certainly didn’t make tolerating it any easier. Every day my self image eroded under waves of teasing, pranks, and cold shoulders.
Self-Image Is A Fragile Thing
The thing about self image is that coral grows back faster.
Every time I climb on stage, I don’t feel like a piano rock god. I feel like I’m standing in front of the class in my underwear, expected to give a dissertation about particle physics. In a foreign language. I feel like I’m being judged, like I’m still being picked last for softball, even when I can see everyone in the front row wearing shirts with my name on them. It’s high school all over again- I see the few real close friends I’ve made, and everyone else is just waiting for me to fail.
You’re Not Good Enough
Every. Single. Day. I start at the bottom of a mountain labeled “you’re not good enough” and every day I have to climb as high up as I can. It’s a mentality that grew from a daily routine of being looked down upon by the kids with the Gap clothes and new Playstations and any noticeable skill at football. I made matters worse back then by trying way, way too hard to be liked. The teachers called them Attention Getting Devices.
Because I did have safe communities- my family, my church, my real friends -I didn’t harm myself or anyone else. I even managed to parlay my attention getting devices into something resembling a career. I goof around, try to be funny, and more and more of you seem to actually accept and support that.
I’ve turned my inadequacy into a weapon now, sharper than the knife I used to carry in my pocket to school. Every album I release, every concert I perform- they’re all exercises in climbing to the top of Mount Not-Good-Enough and smashing it to the ground. My music is a C-130 full of dynamite that I use to level this damn mountain that, somehow, keeps getting rebuilt the next morning.
But at the end of a good show, when you see that smile on my face as I walk to the CD table to shake hands with people, that’s me planting the flag on the smoking pile of rubble. It gets a little easier each time.