“Her”…What defines “Her”? Maybe it was those blue eyes, the smile, and the brown hair that she often interwove through her fingers when I was around her in school. No, she was much more complex — as many of us are in today’s society. Or just maybe she was the product of the rich, cookie-cutter community I was born a part of? If that is the case, could mob mentality really pressure and compel us — the majority of human beings — to conform and do little to help others, even if it costs us something in the end?
Here is my story: a life that strayed from that of “Her” and the bubble I was trapped into for 17 years of my life.
I admit that growing up wasn’t the easiest. With my parents working and managing a dusk ’til 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 take-out containers on a daily basis. There were constant fights, as you might imagine, financial difficulties, of course, along with the need for an outlet. Unfortunately, unhealthy outlets for both my stressed parents ultimately resulted in abuse, gambling addictions, and more. These outlets conjure memories that 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 they manipulated and took advantage of the person I played so well. I realized this deep inside, but, again, I pretended that I was oblivious to what they were doing and saying. Why? I thought I’d at least bring some others slight happiness, so they could feel more confident and secure about themselves at least.
Sometimes when we do hurtful things to someone else, we neglect to understand their background — or we just forget in the moment.
However, I’m human. I’m NOT invincible. I do hurt like others. I hurt the same as those who share similar stories of bullying. As a result of those experiences, though, I’m stronger, I’ve grown, and I can relate to others. I don’t feel bad or regret the life I lived. Why?
Her with her blue eyes and brown hair.
Her words of encouragement.
Her words that saved me from suicide.
And all I needed was her friendship.
And all I wanted was her understanding…
-Stephanie Kong (2013)
The TA from my psychology class just recently told me about how the mentally ill are usually misunderstood but the most creative. I don’t know if I believe that; but, then again, the experiences I have garnered so far have been from playing on streets, at festivals, and in open bars to all types of individuals, even to those that are labeled as “deviant” — homeless, drug-addicted people. From talking to them, I have undertaken a subjective, constructionist approach in order to understand the reasons why these people — including my parents and siblings — have come to be. They’re not monsters, even though society can sometimes make them out as such.
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. I know I’m too stubborn, and I hope that characteristic 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 have resorted to drugs or partying. I know I’m not perfect. I’m definitely not. It took years of rejection for my passion for music to receive any sort of acknowledgement within my community and internationally on radio-stations. But, I’m telling you that everything will be okay with whatever situation you are in. Although 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 its messages. Although I’m proud about my success so far — being noticed by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, blogs, and radio stations — I’m not confident that I will break into the music industry immediately. But, I do know this: These successes mean that you CAN get somewhere despite all odds. I’ve proved this through the example of my music career. Sure, I’m not the number one selling musician or anything like that, but I’ve gotten somewhere because I worked hard and believed in myself. I know you can, too, if you follow your passion.
You can find links to Stephanie Kong’s Music at bandcamp.com.
My name is Stephanie Kong. I'm an 18 year old singer-songwriter/multi instrumentalist that pens songs about loneliness, poverty, and other issues that have revolved around me throughout my life. I used to get made fun a lot in school too. So music is like an outlet I use to help other people. I currently attend school at the University of Pittsburgh and first began to self-teach myself instruments at the age of 14 and have over the last 4 years garnered experience playing at festivals, open mics, and much more. I've talked and met a lot of people along the way and have gained some attention from radio outlets, newblogs, and etc.