Reflecting on Chester Bennington’s Impact

I didn’t think the death of someone I’ve never met before could have such a strong, painful impact on me, but the death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington has been difficult to accept.

I’ve been struggling since hearing the news to sit down and get out exactly what I want to say about Chester and what his music has meant to me over the years.

I don’t listen to Linkin Park as often now, but in high school, that band’s music was constantly on reply. I had numerous LP shirts, bracelets, posters, CDs.

I remember watching their music videos over and over again until my family would go outside and stay out because they were so sick of the songs. I remember begging my parents to let me go to their concert — I would eventually see them three times.  I remember making my dad drive me to the store as soon as they would release a new album so I could blast it on repeat in my friend’s basement. I remember spending hours with another friend, singing along to Hybrid Theory and Meteora while playing Resident Evil.

When I got my license, Linkin Park was always playing in the car. The glove box of my dad’s Focus was stuffed with their CDs. My iPod was filled with their music and I had whole playlists dedicated to them.

But beyond being a favorite band that I basically worshiped, there was a much deeper connection to their music.

In high school, especially early high school, Linkin Park’s music had a profound impact on me. There were many times I was struggling with myself, struggling to like myself, having difficulty fitting in, just generally not feeling well, that I worked through with Linkin Park songs blasting over and over.

Their music was playing when I was down, when I felt like I really didn’t belong anywhere. I would write to it. I would cry to it. It would help pull me out of some slumps that I often didn’t speak of. When I felt alone and had convinced myself that I had no one, that music was something I could cling to. I related to it. It made me realize I wasn’t so alone. There are so many specific memories I can think back to, days and times when I wasn’t happy or was beating myself up. Looking back, the problems were probably minuscule. At the time, however, the feelings were awful, and Linkin Park helped make it better.

At this moment, “Somewhere I Belong” is playing. It takes me right back to sitting on my bedroom floor, jotting down notes in an old notebook. It, like many Linkin Park songs, resonated heavy with the teenage version of myself. And they still do, with me today.

I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say Chester’s music saved me from myself.

It’s so hard to think that someone whose music was such an important part of my own personal growth is gone as a result of his own hands, and presumably his own mind. Chester’s lyrics shared struggles. They were personal and raw. And they were a reminder that other people were feeling the same way.

I used to read as much about the band as I could because I loved them so much, and I remember reading about Chester’s rise to stardom, how he came from difficulties, how he rose about a multitude of negative encounters in life, but was still able to overcome. As someone who at that point had not a single clue what they were going to do with their life and couldn’t see beyond right in front of them, his successes were an inspiration.

Chester was truly an amazing talent. From his strength beyond music to his vocals and lyrics, he has left a mark on his generation.

Whether you like Linkin Park or their evolution in sound that has been prominent in recent years, there’s no denying the influence the band has had on music. The world lost an icon this week.

I didn’t know it was possible for my heart to feel so shattered over the loss of a celebrity, but Chester Bennington’s death hits hard.

I know what it takes to move on
I know how it feels to lie
All I want to do
Is trade this life for something new.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are resources available. Visit clickondetroit.com/news/suicide-prevention-support-and-mental-health-resources-available-in-us for a list of hotlines and online resources.

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so long, my friend

It was a bit of a shock (if that’s the right word) to log on to this blog for the first time in more than four months and see that the last post was a gleaming post of happiness and gratitude for my best friend. You see, a week ago that same friend texted me and said she was cutting ties for good.

For a week I’ve been grappling with the feelings of it, of all I need and want to say but won’t say, of what went wrong, of the pros, the cons. I’m currently out of the country so receiving the text that friendship is over and knowing that when I get back, everything will be different and there’s nothing I can do about it has been something that has been weighing on me for most of the trip, even before the text officially cutting me off came.

I guess I just don’t get it. Things had gotten bad between us, yes, but was ending it really necessary? How do you end a friendship with your best friend through text? When they are 4,000 miles away and can’t do anything about what was happening? It couldn’t have waited until I got home? We couldn’t talk in person? Yes, things were rough but it was worth ending the entire friendship via a few text messages that tried to make it seem like a far cleaner break than it was?

I need to quit dwelling, I so desperately need to quit thinking about it (and I have been doing pretty well pushing it out of my mind, though that blog post brought me right back). I’m not as much hurt as I am angry now, but more angry at myself than the friend. I don’t get it. I will never get it, but I guess it’s just something I need to deal with.

I still think we should talk in person and I still believe that would have been the right way to handle it, but if someone can cut off their best friend without enough respect to speak to them, I guess it’s not a person worth chasing or being too upset over.

Finally Back

It’s been way too long since I have updated this blog. When I made it, I told myself I would never abandon it (and clearly I’m not since I’m back), but life has gotten way too busy the past few months.

The last time I updated was when I was the Arts and Entertainment editor for the paper at my school. Shortly after, I became the editor-in-chief. From there, it’s been a constant packed schedule and plenty of insomnia.

It’s been the best experience though, and I hope I can update on some of my past adventures, as well as what I will be up to in the future.

 

Detroit, love and the lack thereof

I fell in love with Detroit when I wandered through a street with my best friend, snapping photos as we sneaked up on Michigan Central Station. I fell in love with Detroit when I drove through the city alone for the first time despite my parents’ expected fears. I fell in love with Detroit when a homeless man stopped me and my friend to tell us about growing up and fulfilling our dreams. I fell in love with Detroit when I locked hands with people I didn’t know in Mexicantown, praying over what may be, for some of them, their only food for the week. I fell in love for Detroit when I biked through the city with thousands of other people, laughing and yelling and taking in a new angle of the neighborhoods.
Detroit may look like it is falling apart, but beyond the side the media always lets us know about, there’s beauty, there’s community, and there is love. Hate in and for Detroit can only survive if we let it. Poverty and death and blight are very real, but so is love. Love is powerful, love is life changing, and love is so desperately needed.
It’s so easy to avoid what needs to be changed, so easy to hate what needs love the most. Detroit, looming under a cloud of stigma, Detroit needs love. And I fall in love with Detroit each time I step foot inside its borders.

To Be Nothing

Here I sit, sheltered from the elements by a door, watching the sun rising over the worn brick of the building I work in. Snow coats the ground, though it can’t sparkle due to the dead grass it rests upon poking through.
I think I am content, but only content. My mind is racing with the desire to explore, the need to escape for some time. In sync with my mind, my eyes dart back and forth with anticipation for where I could be. Or is that the coffee I just drank? Whatever it may be, I’m here, awake and alive, so I must refrain from complaining. I just feel like there is something missing, the passion and feelings that come with the fiery desire to create and explore.
I am a writer and a photographer. My entire purpose is to create, and to create meaningful content. I cannot lie dormant. I cannot choke out the creative need that fills my soul. I can sit silently, neglecting my camera and notebook, but doing so would only neglect myself. I have tied to drown out what I need, usually unintentionally, and the result was horrible. I will never be truly happy unless I am shooting and writing.
Even days spent in the frigid cold, kneeling on the hard ground and trying to shoot as my fingers and toes lose all feeling, are days far better than the ones I don’t use my camera. Photography is a part of who I am. Writing is a part of who I am. I believe “writer” and “photographer” better describe who I am than any adjective ever could.
What I have found is that what simply makes me happy and complete, defines me. What began as a hobby out of curiosity has exploded into a major and crucial aspect of my life. While cameras and capturing moments intrigued me and  I have been writing for enjoyment for as long back as I can remember, I had no idea these time fillers would one day consume me.
If there’s anything I know about love, it’s that it is a blazing passion deep within our souls that spills out uncontrollably. My feelings toward my camera, toward the words produced by my mind, are nothing short of love. The mere concept of snapping a photo, of writing a sentence, they are such simple actions, yet they encompass my being. To be completely and utterly passionate…That is love. To me, my camera is far more than an object—it is a lifeline, a connector to my grander purpose. Without it, I am nothing.

Progression.

For the longest time, I believed that there was no purpose for life and that being alive was a waste of time. I don’t know if I necessarily wanted to die, but I do know that nothing made me happy and I always found myself focusing on how insignificant I was. I felt like I didn’t matter to any of the people in my life and I instead was a burden in their lives. The thought of their reactions if they found out they would never see or hear from me again taunted me. Maybe it wasn’t death that would do that; I just wanted to leave far away and rebuild myself, with all of the things I considered to be so awful behind me. I felt useless. I felt hated. I thought everyone secretly hated me (plot twist, a lot of them did and their words about me, when they finally came out, didn’t really help the situation). I was completely focused on the negative aspects of my life, fully convinced that’s all it was and all it would ever be. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy at times, but I sure didn’t know what happiness actually felt like. Even now, happiness, true happiness, is a weird concept to me that I’m still trying to figure out. Nonetheless, I am moving further and further from that high school kid that was full of hate and sadness. I can see my life in the future. I’m no longer looking down. I have found the power to break away from the negativity and sadness that was holding me hostage. I am searching for positivity in everything and I love putting myself out there, even if it means I may get shot down. I’ve learned to take the punches that life can throw without letting my stance be broken. I want to live, I want to see what tomorrow holds, and I don’t ever want to stop moving forward.

All I Can Offer

I’d like to say I am a happy and positive person. It’s quite a change from the person I was just a few years ago, down and out, looking for the worst in things around me. I was mean. I was rude. I had some vendetta against everyone and everything. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I seemed to think the world around me was what was wrong.

Now here I am, 20 and a junior in college, a few years away from that person that seemed to hate everything, including life itself. Here I sit, writing this with one of my closest friends beside me, and I think I can say I am happy.

I don’t think I have ever really known happiness before, or at least the true and complete happiness I am feeling now. Of course there are days when I feel low, back at the point where I feel like everything is wrong, but there is something so different here. Now, my biggest goal is to not only continue to better myself, but to improve the lives of those around me.

I have been blessed with an amazing group of people that surround me. From close friends to people I interact with here and there thanks to social media, I have discovered some of the strongest, brightest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. These people are sweet, kind, and caring. These people deserve to be happy. But many of them aren’t, and it breaks my heart.

Knowing what it feels like to feel at the very bottom with no where to go, it truly upsets me seeing these people down at that point. I feel this need, this force telling me that I need to change lives. Even if I only put a smile on the face of one person for a moment, I think that is an accomplishment toward making a difference. Sometimes I feel as though I will come off as weird or creepy for trying to reach out for people, especially those I do not know well, but at the end of the day, I have decided that who I am and what I wish to do is important. If I feel like someone needs something, I am going to give what I can to them, putting aside the fact that they may be confused as to what my motives are.

My motives are to make and see people happy. My desire is to make friends and help those friends grow like my friends continually help me grow. My purpose is to change the world, even if that means only changing the lives of the people I have been lucky enough to cross paths with. If I am not helping people, I do not see any other reason for my existence.