Teen years are and were hard for all of us. That's when we find the beginnings of who we'll be, and depending on our surroundings, choose to let it flourish or hide it away so as to make ourselves less of a target. People are all insecure, especially at the onset of discovering the world. And as such, we hate when we see a glimmer of confidence in someone, we tear it down as quickly as we notice it so we feel less different.
I was home-schooled until the age of 14 before entering the public school system. I was 14 when I first really felt insecure. I worked hard, I believed I could be anything I wanted until I was 14. I remember feeling sick when I walked into the halls of my new school. I was made fun of for trying hard, I was made fun of for being too happy. I made some friends here and there, stood around with the misfits, the awkward misunderstoods. But looking back I knew we all were.
As my family continued to move around I took each new school as an opportunity, a chance to be more of the person I wanted to be. With the loving encouragement of my family I was able to grow into myself pretty well, blocking out the banter of those I forced myself to understand didn't matter.
But that didn't change my popularity, I was always sitting against lockers doing homework, searching for a seat, or eventually just leaving any chance that I could. As a result I was generally ignored, cherished by a small group, and always hated by a few.
There were the ones who decided I was too positive -- they hated how much I smiled. They would pretend to run into me in the halls, shout names at me from their cars if we passed in the streets. Threatened me, pushed me around -- they even keyed my car for pulling up to the "wrong party." I even remember being hated by someone who just decided someone needed to hate me (who recently messaged me on Facebook to apologize...). People hated me for absolutely no reason. And that stands even to this day, it still stings every time.
Bullying comes in so many forms. Whether or not it may be physical, it's painful. Whether or not it may be for any reason at all, it still cuts deep. I receive too many letters from young fans before and after my shows filled with anguished scribbles about depression and sadness. I see girls who have shredded their own skin and have forgotten (or never learned) their own value.
I wish I could grab each one by the shoulders and shake them up and say: "Don't you know it has nothing to do with you? Do you even know how great you can be?" I'm only one person and sometimes I feel helpless, but I sure as hell understand being in a dark place, struggling with yourself. We all know the place, you just need someone to remind you about the other side, the good one. The loving one, the beautiful one, the REAL one. The one where you can be anything you want. The one that gets eclipsed by sadness sometimes.
All darkness passes, and all haters stumble. My dad always used to tell me to keep my eyes up, I urge you to do the same. There will always be people that hate you, but hate is only as powerful as you allow it to be. Talk to someone, pour it out, love yourself, find the things that make you believe and make you passionate, dive into them. Nothing and no one else matters. Maybe someday your haters will find that out too.