“Her”…What defines “Her?” May be it was those blue eyes, the smile, and the brown hair that she often interwove her fingers with when I was around her in school. No, she was much more complex as much of us are in today’s society. Or was the product of the cookie-cutter, rich community I was born apart of? If that is the case, could mob mentality really pressure and compel us, the majority of human beings, to conform and do as little to help others if it costs us something in the end?
Growing up, I admit wasn’t the easiest. With my parents working and managing a dusk till dawn restaurant, there was little to no quality time between my parents, my siblings, and I. We all grew up independently, shared a tiny bedroom with two bunk beds, and ate from Chinese takeout containers on a daily basis. There were constant fights as you, the reader, might imagine. Financial difficulties of course a long with the predictable. What might that be? Outlets. Unfortunately, unhealthy outlets for my stressed parents which would ultimately result in abuse, gambling addictions, and more. Outlets that will conjure memories that I will never be ashamed to say I’m not fond of due to the anxieties and developmental problems my siblings and I accumulated.
Being in a school where cliques predominated did not help either. Often, I put on a mask and blended in with others to escape the emotional and physical pain at home. I lacked friendship and felt lost. Unbeknownst to the mass of my fellow classmates of course and whatever the person I played so well, they manipulated and took advantage of. I realized deep inside, but again I pretended I was oblivious to what they were doing and saying. Why? I thought I’d at least make others happier so they could feel more confident and secure about themselves.
Sometimes when we do hurtful things to someone else we neglect to understand their background or just forget in the gist of the moment.
But because of those experiences, I’m strong, built, and relate. I don’t feel bad or regret the life I lived.
Her words that saved me from suicide.
And all I needed was her friendship.
And all I wanted was her understanding…
-Stephanie Kong (2013)
My TA from my psychology class recently told me about how the mentally ill are usually misunderstood but are the most creative. I don’t know if I believe that, but then again the experiences I garnered so far had been from playing on streets, festivals, and open bars to all types of individuals and even to those that are labeled as “deviant”—homeless, drug-addicted people. Just from talking to these beings and undertaking a subjective, constructionist approach, I understand the reasons why these people had come to be. Even with my parents and my siblings. They’re not monsters like what the norm makes them.
I wonder if that’s what people connect with my acoustic, soul music? I address these issues but I know how constrictive and competitive mainstream music is today with sex, drugs, and partying. Hah. Me being me, I know I’m too stubborn and I hope that never changes. After seeing and living through so much, I want to pen songs that help others and uplift them. I’ve seen too many people who’ve undergone some type of rejection or problem and had resorted to drugs/partying. I know I’m not perfect. It took years of rejection just to receive some sort of acknowledgement with my passion for music within my community and internationally on radio-stations. But I’m telling you that everything will be okay with whatever situation you are in. Though that may not be the case presently, everything works out through time. Just always remain humble, honest, and be yourself.
And as for me…
I’m still hoping that one day a record label will like me for my music and messages. Although there are many temptations and the successes I’ve achieved with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, blogs, and radio stations are something I am proud about, I’m not so confident I will break into the music industry immediately. But I do know this. These successes mean you CAN get somewhere despite all odds. Sure, I’m not the number one selling musician or anything like that, but I GOT somewhere because I worked hard and believed. And I know you can too with whatever you are passionate about.