Strugges to Happiness|| Alex Chuon

Struggles to Happiness

Being the place I grew up in, southwest Philly is pretty harsh.. I experienced three shootings growing up there, and saw many news of shootings near my house. I barely had any friends growing up, and I didn’t really know what it was like to make friends, so I usually kept my distance. Since I was asian, I was usually picked on and bullied in elementary school. There was something like a school band where we had a music teacher teaching brass instruments, but I never really paid attention in it. There were many times where people wanted to befriend me, but I never really trusted anyone, and avoided contact.

My middle school experience felt worst than my elementary school’s. I went to Pepper, a neighborhood school, and I had a love-hate relationship. I loved it because the teachers tried to give students the best time of their lives in middle school, but I also hated it due to being continuously bullied. In the fifth grade at the time, and I decided to try and make some friends, but during the year, my eyesight got worse, and I had to wear glasses. I was very scared to talk to people because I thought people would mock me for my glasses, but people actually started to like me. I was happy, but I was not able to communicate with people, because there were people who stayed in their group. I was bullied like always, but I endured it.

In the sixth grade, and I still haven’t been able to make any friends. Living in a harsh neighborhood, and going to a neighborhood school. I have to take the school bus to and from school. One day on my way home from school, I overheard people talking about me, and how they might jump me. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. I then tried to avoid being in their sight as much as possible, but I couldn’t hide forever. As soon as I got off the bus, I heard them say my name, and they pushed me against the fence of my elementary school. I ignored them, hoping that they’d just forget about me and leave me be. I thus, walked away but I heard running, but I knew what was going to happen next. I could’ve dodged, or ran away, but I froze. I felt my right cheek get crushed by a fist and then get pummeled towards the fence. I tried to protect myself when I realized that I can’t always be a coward, so I then tried fighting back myself. I was swinging my fist as hard as I can, and I felt my fist hit something at least 4-5 times. I knew I lost, and wouldn’t be able to fight back, but I wanted to go down, and at least bring 1 person down with me. A day later, I was going to depression, because of how easy of a target I was, and how I didn’t have any friends. Then, I started to listen to music, and I found out that music, can be an escape route for me. I was able to be immersed into another world, or dimension. I was immersed into the music, and lyrics.

Throughout the whole year, I’ve been listening to music trying to get through the tough times. During that year, I also took up piano, and learned piano during that year and the next. Piano was one of the best of fun instruments I played. It calmed me down so much, when I played. I wanted to learn as much as possible, and learn music theory for it too. 7th grade, I met this one person who grew up ghetto, and my best friend today. Even though we didn’t have almost nothing in common, we clicked, and just started talking to each other more. We became closer than I imagined, and I was happy that I made a friend. He became dependable to me. He helped me get out of fights, due to how his reputation was. He was someone that not a lot of people would want to mess with. We chatted, he does what he has do, and I do what I have to do. I still played piano, and listen to music, while having a good friend close towards me. Because of him, I was able to socialize more, and be able to have the ability to make more friends. I was also able to pick myself up, get out of depression, and look forward to the future. I wasn’t scared of the past anymore, and how I would get bullied. I wasn’t scared if I’d lose a fight, of if I’m going to go in a fight. I became more open, less scared, and more straightforward. And to be honest, I don’t even know whether or not I would be scared, if a gun were to be put up my head. I lost the fear of something that people would think I’m crazy, but that’s how I feel.

In eighth grade, and I went to another middle school, because the school I went to, shut down. During that time, Instead of playing piano, I wanted to trumpet. And coincidentally, it was the same music teacher from my elementary school, and middle school, so I wasn’t that hesitant to be close with him. When I tried to play the trumpet, it was difficult, so he found a better solution of an instrument to play which was the baritone. It was very similar to the trumpet. You can say it was the bass for the trumpet, more deeper, but plays the same notes, on a different scale.

I played baritone for at least 4 months now, and I felt like I mastered it, and asked my teacher if I can try the trumpet out. I played a few notes, and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought, and I started being cocky, and saying how I'm soo good. Surprisingly, I was actually good with trumpet, I didn't have trouble playing it, so I wanted to play clarinet, flute, saxophone, and alto saxophone, and It was very easy to play. The hardest instrument was flute, due to having a certain position with playing it. After playing multiple instruments, I gained quite a bit of fame. I realized after I stop practicing for a bit was that I was barely picked on. Rather than being picked on, I became friends with many people at the school that I didn’t think I’d become friends with.

Of course I was in multiple fights, but it was different than being picked on, or being bullied. I was one of the people that everyone at the school knew, I didn’t feel popular, but I felt like I was noticed, and I have friends. I started talking to my best friend, and we just started to hang out like always. Even then, whenever I was having troubles, in a bad mood, etc. I would just listen to music, or talk to my best friend, or my other friends. If I talk to my friends, they would always try to understand, and help me through it, and give me good advices. I started becoming more and more open.

I don’t know if it was obvious or not, but music and friends are some things that became a big part of my life. It was as if it was like a gift from god. It was something I hold dearly towards me. I see questions on facebook where they ask “What is your biggest fear?”, and I constantly argue with myself whether or not if my biggest fear were that I’d lose all my friends I hold dear, or never be able to listen to music, which I simplify to being deaf. It’s the two I never want to lose, same goes for family too. I grew up never laughing, now I’m someone who people consider a friend, and I laugh with people, people I consider friends, and able to listen to music that I can be in a different dimension, if I ever want to be in a hole alone.