A few days ago I woke up to the news of letlive. breaking up and my world was shattered. They’ve been one of the biggest influences in my life and coming to terms with the fact that they will not be putting out new music every few years, that I won’t be planning trips to see their shows, was difficult to say the least.
I first heard of their music when I was a sophomore in high school. I was ecstatic to see some of my favorite bands playing together on the Street Youth Rising Tour: Pierce The Veil, Memphis May Fire, Issues, and letlive. I drove four hours with my friend because my state’s show had sold out, and seeing them live made me fall in love with their music even more. Since then, they, along with the Maine and a handful of other bands, got me through some of the worst periods of my life.
Much like many people, I unfortunately never went to therapy to treat my mental illness as a teen. I went to doctors to fix my physical illnesses but that’s about it. I came here illegally when I was five and haven’t gone back to my home country since. I have no family, except the family of friends I’ve created, and only my mom to rely on—which isn’t a bad thing, because I love my mom. But because of the culture shock and sudden separation from the family I was raised in, I was diagnosed with depression, anorexia and anxiety at the age of six and went to therapy up until I was nine. I stopped going because I began improving, but also because I began to learn how to hide everything that I felt. By sixth grade, my mental health was deteriorating again and was at its worst. Still, I never spoke to anyone about it. Instead, I opted to listen to bands like letlive. and the Maine, taking it one day at a time.
Middle school consisted of being bullied by one particular kid—I truly don’t know why he hated me—but also being appreciated by most of my classmates. My life at home was a mess, and I was feeling very homesick. Ultimately, I stopped noticing the positive things in my life and began to take up unhealthy habits. No one ever noticed, I don’t think anyone has ever known to be honest, but it happened, and it was real, and it was bad.
When I got to eighth grade, things started looking up. I joined yearbook where I began to pick up photography, got into the high school that the kid who didn’t like me desperately wanted to go to (and he hated me for it! Best feeling in the world, proving people wrong, right?!), and kept discovering amazing music. It wasn’t until the end of freshman year that I attempted to stop my bad habits because I realized I was picking up more along the way, and I began to get worried about myself. My eating habits were horrendous and unhealthy, and people were starting to notice, just like I was starting to notice others who were like me.
So I did what I always do: I put on some music and tuned everything out. I sat by myself on my bed and thought about every little mistake I’ve made, and about how the world will end and how everything that I have done will have been for nothing. And then letlive.’s Fake History came on like it usually did, but it was different this time. It snapped me out of the trance I was in and I realized that I didn’t want to be this person anymore. And although I didn’t seek professional help because I didn’t know how to bring it up to my mom, and I knew we couldn’t afford it regardless, I went online and found ways to cope. I began painting, A LOT. I took up doing DIY projects, and more importantly, I went to my first concert: Mayday Parade and the Maine.
This show changed my life; It’s where I found my passion for music photography. That day was the day my life turned around. I chose to stop my bad habits and instead I picked up a camera, got a job so I could buy my own gear, and began to work my way into the music industry.
It’s been four years since I shot my first show and my life has been a huge roller coaster of emotions since. Despite everything, I wish I had sought help when I needed it. I wish I had had a resource like Hope for the Day, but had it not been for music, I don’t know that I would be here. If it wasn’t for music, I would have never met some of my best friends and biggest inspirations (aka my best friend AND biggest inspiration), and I don’t think that I’d be happy. Maybe satisfied, but not pure happiness and joy. I don’t think we should ever settle for something, and I would have settled had I not gone to that concert. Settled on a nine-to-five job, a career that I would probably enjoy, but that would leave me in debt for the rest of my life.
Instead I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with some incredible artists, travel the country doing what I love with some of the best people, and meet some unbelievable human beings. I began my own magazine, Focus (focuszine.com), and we featured some pretty neat artists. Ultimately I left it because my schedule didn’t allow me to put 100% into it, which is good and bad, I guess.
I can truly say that I have no idea where I’d be, or if I would even be here, had it not been for music. It’s so powerful, and I think some people truly underestimate it. I never thought I’d make it out alive, but here I am. I’ve surrounded myself with kind, hilarious, and talented people who push me to be the best I can be and keep me grounded. I’ve lost a handful of friends because I’ve put my all into this dream and because of how I mishandled my mental health, but I’ve learned that if people want you in their life, they’ll make the effort if you do too. And unfortunately, not everyone is meant to stay in your life. I’m only 20 years old, but I’ve accomplished things people can only dream of, and I’m not even getting started yet. I know what I stand for and I know what I want and what I’m worth, so I’ll continue to fight for this dream because I owe my life to music.
Photo via Anam Merchant.