Let’s face it. Life can be tough sometimes…really tough. As teenagers, we experience a lot of different obstacles and barriers that appear on what seems like a daily basis. There are amazingly positive moments and horribly discouraging setbacks. But we keep moving forward.
My name is Madison, and I’m a recording artist. In 2012, I posted a series of YouTube videos singing covers of my favorites artists. The videos started getting a lot of views, and I suddenly found myself in the spotlight. It was a wild couple of months, and I couldn’t be happier that people were appreciating what I loved to do. It was a dream come true, but it’s one that has come with obstacles.
Soon after posting the covers, I started getting really mean comments on YouTube, Twitter, and other social media platforms. People wrote comments like “fake,” “slut,” even telling me to kill myself, and they were sent to me pretty regularly. I couldn’t understand why people hated me when they never met me. The first time I logged on and saw some of these angry comments, my entire body went numb. People say that words are only words, but I was only 12 years old, and every. single. word. hurt. It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. Why did they hate me? Because I didn’t look like them? I didn’t sound like them? I didn’t pretend to be what they wanted me to be? But what could I do? I put on a smile and pretended to ignore them, but I’m not going to lie…it hurt. It still does. At times, it felt like the walls were closing in on me…I felt like I deserved the hate.
I kept my sadness hidden for a while. In music, people expect you to be perfect at all times. It’s just the way it is, I guess. “Put on a smile and deal with it,” they say. You’re supposed to talk a certain way, look a certain way, act a certain way…and it was the same way at school. Play the role that is expected of you or else we will hate you.
Recently, the hateful comments have gotten worse. Rumors swirl, and people tease. Fortunately, I am learning that it’s OK to talk about my feelings. My family and the people closest to me have been extremely supportive, but it’s an uphill battle. Talking to my younger brother has helped me. He is a great listener, and he has allowed me to express myself freely and talk about our lives and how we can become better people. It’s not always easy, but it helps. I often use my music to explain how I feel, and that has been a great outlet for me.
I’ll leave you with this…don’t be afraid to be who you are. Try your best not to become the person who spreads hate online. Spread joy and happiness, peace and love. When times get tough, don’t be afraid to find someone and ask for help. We are all in this together. Let’s support each other.