AMERICAN SURVIVOR: MIKALAH GORDON
If you look down the list of my American Idol interviews, you'll find several names of very interesting and dynamic singers. But not one of them has touched my heart or moved me like Mikalah Gordon.
Meek is a unique person. We've only been friends for a short time, but already we've had conversations that mean so much. She's the last person on Idol that I ever thought I'd take a personal liking to. But now that I'm getting to know her, I respect her so much as a person, and I applaud her for the things she's been able to do.
Because of Mikalah, you can expect my coverage of American Idol to change this year. It will be a challenge to keep things funny without making fun of people, but I cannot and will not be part of the ugliness that has caused such heartache to such wonderful people anymore. I will urge you all to be kinder as well. These people are human beings just like we are. And as such, they deserve respect, and not the abuse that so many bloggers and commenters, including myself, have dished out on Mikalah, Kellie Pickler, or any number of other contestants.
This interview will be a little different. Mikalah had a message she needed to get out to the world. So rather than me talking, I stepped back and let Mikalah pour her heart out to me. What follows are the words straight from her mouth. They moved me to tears. If it touches you or helps you in any way, I encourage all of you to leave a comment for her. She appreciates your support and encouragement more than you know. If you have something negative to say, I encourage you to keep it to yourself. Before you post anything about a fellow human being, step back and consider whether you would like somebody else to say it about you.
And now, without further adieu, Mikalah:
First of all, J.D., whether you liked me or not on American Idol, what you're doing is so amazing. Because before all the little fame I may have or bling I think I own, I am just a human being. A young one at that. And for someone to have my back and just listen to me because I am just a young girl and nothing else...that will touch my heart for the rest of my life.
When I was a little girl, I remember being in class and my teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Rather than being a doctor or a fire fighter or a lawyer, I said I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be famous so I could touch people's lives in a big way.
All I want to do is send a message to kids my age.
When I was twelve years old, I started going through a rough stage. The fact that my parents were divorced and the feeling of not belonging and having to choose sides with my parents began to take a toll on my life. By the time I was fourteen I had cut off all my hair, dyed it every color, and pierced every body part possible. To be honest, I was very screwed up. I also had a hideous social life. Because I was so different and had such little self esteem, nobody liked me, and I belonged nowhere.
My own family had given up on me. I realize today they just didn't understand me and didn't know how to deal with me. I felt very alone and very scared. For the next two years, I changed schools several times and became a high school flunk. I had also changed my appearance many times and still was not fitting in with anybody. I hated everybody: my family, my friends, my teachers. Because, in reality, I hated myself.
When American Idol came around, I felt like it was an opportunity that could save my life. I remember going to the first audition. I had no support and nobody believing in me. On top of that, my mother, who was the only person i truly loved, was very sick and had been in and out of the hospital. I figured American Idol could not only save me but could save my family. And that they would finally accept me. During the stages of American Idol, I again changed many times. I think what people don't understand is that at the age of sixteen you are still finding yourself. You really don't know who you are, and you will do anything for a little attention.
After American Idol, I still felt lost, and I didn't understand why I couldn't just be happy. On top of that, I received hideous hate mail, and going back home to Vegas was not any better. The girlfriends I thought I made no longer befriended me. Instead they talked behind my back with horrible rumors and, in the end, completely cut me off. I felt lost yet again. And I still felt like I couldn't be accepted for who I was.
I guess I can no longer blame anybody for their dislike for me, because I didn't know who I was either. When I had the opportunity to move out to California, I hopped on the first plane that would take me on board. The perfect escape.
Rather than things getting better, they got even worse. My problems had followed me and were now only a footstep away. For one whole year I cried. Funny, I still do sometimes. I was confused and scared. I suppose Hollywood is not all its cracked up to be. I just wanted the same woman that I had pushed away for six years. My mommy. And now she was many miles away.
So I had to grow up. I either could grow up and work on myself or die from the excruciating pain I felt. So I decided to grow up.
I realize I don't have to fit in with everybody. I realized I don't have to always be the center of attention. I realize people are allowed to make mistakes. I realize those same high school and middle school friends would come and go, and that I shouldn't have based my life around what people said about me, because surprise! not everyone is going to like you.
I learned to love my parents. I realize they were only tring to protect and love me to the best of their ability. And I guess the saddest part is that I knew it all along. i just knew the "cool" thing to do was fight with them because my "friends" said that it was.
But most of all I learned and am still struggling to love myself.
I always thought singing and acting would substitute my pain of unhappiness, and when it didn't, I was angry. I was even angry at American Idol for a long time. But how can you be happy with anything or anybody unless you're happy with yourself and are capable of loving yourself?? That is my struggle today and has been for a very long time. Self acceptance.
No one said this life was easy, or that you or I were perfect, but I think having someone or something to relate to helps. Above anybody or anything, just love your whole self. And when you do, everything and everyone who is supposed to be in your life will fall right into place. And remember, everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason.
And whatever you decide to do in life, believe that you are more than capable of accomplishing it. You just have to believe in yourself, because nobody else will do it for you.
I hope this is helpful. And whether you loved me or hated me, I'm just a young adult. Wow, that's crazy to think...adult...just trying to find myself.
Peace and love to you, J.D., and to everyone out there listening.