When I was little, I stood on the risers in the cafeteria of my elementary school and sang a solo in my 3rd grade program. The song was called "Fight Fair", and I still remember my part.
Years later, I stood onstage at the Whisky A Go-Go and belted my heart out to a crowd of people who didn't know my name or my face. I left everything on that stage and hoped it would be enough to keep the momentum of my career going.
I wanted to matter. To sing. I wanted people to hear my voice and know that I wanted it more than anything. I booked five shows in Hollywood and released a bunch of covers on free streaming sites. I pushed and pushed and threw myself out there waiting for someone to catch me.
No one did.
The boy I'd fallen in love with (and bought a guitar for) left me because of the way that tiny glimpse of fame destroyed me. He was embarrassed and hurt onstage when he forgot the chords. I let him stand there and kept singing. I don't know what I could've done differently, but there must've been something. I still have pictures that people took that night, him sitting on the stage, guitar in his lap, looking like he'd been punched.
I walked away and went to a meeting at The Rainbow Room with some producers. He went home and told me he couldn't look at me anymore. I never got over it.
Singing was a drug after that. I got drunk and hit karaoke bars. I actually attempted to fill the hole in my heart with liquor and show tunes and attention. It didn't work and I lost my best friend, every other guy I dated, and watched as some of my family walked out on me.
I wish I could blame singing or that moment in the spotlight for my downfall, but I can't. That wouldn't be genuine or fair.
The relationship I'm in now has nearly collapsed under the weight of my desperate need to live on the stage. Many a fight has been fought in the truck on the way back from a bar where I got sloppy and sang. The last time I brought up going to sing, I nearly had to buy a plane ticket back to Texas, because the man I love was ready to put me out on my ass. I deserved it.
I can't let myself fall apart anymore. I can't drown the loneliness with liquor. I can't slam the drinks back until my head swims. I can't late-night-text my exes and ex-friends looking for validation. I have a "normal person" job. I'm in classes online. While I have contact with the current booking agent at the Whisky, I haven't even tried to set up a show. I'm miles and hours away from Hollywood. I don't see that changing anytime soon.
I can't tell you how much it hurts, but I can let you listen to this song, and maybe that will help.
(Disclaimer: I've disliked Justin Bieber for a long time, but when I heard this I full-on LOST it. He's just a kid with a dream like me. Damned if I don't feel every word of this.)