From Bullied to Belting Ballads
As you may already know, October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In honor of that, today's blog post comes from Meredith O'Connor, a young singer-songwriter who has adopted a platform of anti-bullying and even incorporated that theme into some of her music. Below, she explains how personal experience inspired that choice. For more, check out her debut single, "The Game," and her bio below.
My name is Meredith O’Connor. I'm a singer/songwriter based in Long Island, New York. If you're familiar with Build A Better planet, an FM radio station that promotes community service, you may have heard my debut single. But what you may not know about me is that I used to be a victim of bullying. It comes in many different forms, but I experienced it verbally, as soon as I got to the age where cliques formed. Being an "artistic soul" I was exiled by my friends and left to feel like I had done something wrong. Like in many cases, I felt blame for somehow bring that unwanted attention on myself. Looking back, I can see the main difference between then and now is that I am able to reconize that their bullying wasnt my fault, Now I am proud of who I am and own that I am different, outgoing, creative, driven and passionate about what I do. Back then, appreciating my talents, or even acknowledging them, was hard because of my environment. My home life was fine and I was kind to people. Yet, that wasn’t enough in school. It also didn't help that I wasn’t the best athlete. Instead, I was left to mostly appreciate the beauty of the arts on my own.
The friends that I did have helped, but my other peers presented me with a challenge no young person ever wants to face: isolation and bullying. So I made friends in dance classes, voice lessons, and in community shows. Lucky for me, my parents understood that I was different and needed to explore places where I could be accepted for the person I was. As an added bonus, my talents also improved as I got more significant roles, and I learned that I was not alone. This discovery of my talent made me realize I had a gift. I hope I can inspire you to find your gift, even if it isn't one your peers notice.
Eventually that exploration and hard work paid off. When I was fifteen, I signed my first contract with City Model Agency. There, no one criticized how I looked, they were kind and professional. I loved that environment, and quickly became known as the ”down to earth” one.
The experience taught me that you can be who you want to be, not what those who judge you label you as. I am a model and actress because I work hard towards those goals and create distance from those who don't believe in me. And I also know now to to stay true to myself, and to not judge others. My experience being bullied reminds me that there are people out there who still need help. Today, I work with my manager and label to promote tolerance and kindness. I specifically choose to have a platform of anti-bullying, since I'm so passionate about it. I have a self titled EP about my life and experiences overcoming this challenge. The message of that album is the same one I'll leave with you here: Be proud of who you are, and never give up!
Meredith O'Connor is a singer-songwriter with a self-titled EP that will soon be released and distributed in stores nationally. For information on its release, see her Facebook page: Meredith O'Connor. She hopes to touch the lives of teenagers like her, and would love to hear from you.
For more information on bullying and what to do if you or someone you know is a victim, check out the following fact sheets: