I am a few days behind the masses in acknowledging a spine-chilling, gut-wrenching performance of a 19-year old Jillian Jensen on X-Factor, which aired in the US on Wednesday night, and here in India on Friday. Jillian came on stage in front of the judges, thousands of people in the live audience and the millions watching from home, emotional from the start. She went on to explain that she was a big fan of one of the judges, Demi Lovato, partly because of similar experiences they have both shared in high school – being bullied.
While talking about her experiences, Jillian, both behind the stage and on it, was not able to keep the emotions and tears away. There she is, a 19-year old, beautiful and, as soon was evident, extremely talented young girl, broken and beaten to the ground because of horrible experiences she has had to live through for years. As she was talking about the things she had gone through, I started to get emotional sitting on my couch – and then I shook it off. I mean, that is just silly – to be crying when watching the X-Factor. Come on, who does that?
Well. I think everyone who watched should have been crying. If not when Jillian was talking, then definitely when she started singing. I haven’t been bullied, so I don’t have the personal experience of what that is like – and yet, I felt like I could relate to, understand and feel all the pain, all the agony, all the tears and the fear and the sorrow that young girl has had to go through in her very short life. I cried, because I wished someone could have done something before. I cried, because I know there are so many like her around the world – young girls and boys, who have to endure mental and physical violence, name calling, pushing and shoving, harassing, on daily basis. Girls and boys whose spirit gets broken every day, over and over again – who start thinking they are not good enough, that there is something wrong with them, that they deserve what they are getting. None of them ever ever do – but still it happens, under our eyes, under the eyes of parents and teachers, of other children and youth, who turn the other way when they should be fighting against it. No child or a young person should ever have to go through the kind of pain Jillian, and others like her, have to go through – and to be able to get through it, to rise up every day, to endure the abuse, to come out on the other side – well, that takes the kind of strength and perseverance I probably am not even able to imagine. Jillian is not only an extremely talented singer, but an extremely strong, exceptional young girl – and I hope her bullies saw her sing. And I hope they cried, too. They should have.
So yes – X-Factor made me cry. And I am not ashamed, at all. I hope it made others cry too – because more people should be able to relate to the pain Jillian, and other bullied children and youth, go through. More of us need to be enraged by what happens bullied kids, more of us need to feel the pain, and more of us need to care as much as we would if it was happening to us, or to our children.
I think Jillian has proved that she is stronger, and better, than her bullies – and that she has the ability to rise above her negative experiences, and turn her pain into something empowering. Not all kids are that strong, though, and while it is okay not to be okay, it is never, ever, okay to just turn the other way, and not do anything. I hope Jillian makes you cry too.