“Guest Blogger Noah Garner Addresses Personal Struggle with Bullying”
Noah Garner is an up and coming country music singer and songwriter. This star on the rise is currently headlining for Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, located in the nation’s country music capital, Nashville Tennessee. Noah is a compassionate sponsor for Kids Wish Network with a personal understanding of what some of our Wish Kids go through. Like many of our Wish Kids, Noah was bullied in school. Between performances, Noah took the time to share his experiences with us.
I always knew I was different. When kids my age were worried about what shirt to wear, I was worrying about what my purpose was in life. I moved eight times within the first ten years of my life. I haven’t had many really close friends my age. I haven’t seen my biological father since I was two, and I lost the man I call Dad at the age of ten, when he was killed in a four- wheeler accident. I dealt with bullying and exclusion many times growing up, due to the fact that I was different than most and frequently the “new” kid. During middle school, there was a kid that would threaten to fight me almost every day. I had never done anything to him.
I have even been the subject of cyber bullying. A girl at school took a video of me from behind and she was mocking me for wearing my cowboy hat to school. You see, there wasn’t anyone else in my school wearing a cowboy hat. She took the video and posted it on Twitter making fun of me. My cousin saw the post before I did and called the bully out. She removed the video once she didn’t get the response she thought she would. I thank my cousin for stepping up.
Having said all of this, I feel very blessed in this life! I am 18 years old now, and I’ve come out on the other side truly “livin’ the dream!”
Here are some things I have learned from my experiences:
• I have learned over the years that many people bully out of insecurity and/or feelings of helplessness from being bullied themselves. Most of the time, the best response, if someone was bullying me, was no response. Many times, bullies will feed off of your anger or hurt. Be nice to them or ignore them. Talk to your parent, family member, friend, teacher, or counselor, but don’t give the bully your time or energy if they don’t respond to kindness.
• I’ve come to know that a small amount of great friends, who accept you for who you are, is better than “popularity” any day. I wouldn’t give up my small circle of true friends for anything!
• I know that hobbies or interests can be a great distraction. I love to fish, hunt, and ride trails in my truck. There have been many times in my life when these things have helped me to feel better and forget about things that were bothering me.
• If you are being bullied online, turn off the computer or put down the cell phone, and tell someone! Do not respond to them, especially online. If you have to, then deactivate your social media accounts for a while. I’ve done this before, and it didn’t hurt me at all.
The biggest thing, which is something I learned very young, is to find something that moves you and put your time and attention into it. For me, it’s always been music. Music has been my friend for a very long time. It has gotten me through tough times and brought me to the best times. I have been playing guitar and singing from the age of eight. There were many times in my life that kids my age didn’t understand my love for it. I never let anyone stop me from following my dream!
In the last couple of years, I was named Alabama Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. I made it to the Executive Producer Round of American Idol. I was awarded the North American Country Music Association International’s Most Promising Male Entertainer and Horizon Vocalist. I have been able to travel and see many beautiful places.
I am now living in Nashville, performing at Tootsies World Famous Orchid Lounge. This is the place where many successful country artists started in Nashville such as Tyler Farr, Terri Clark, and Chris Janson. I am working with fellow artists, songwriters, industry professionals, and mentors. I get to make a living doing what I love, meet people from all over the world, and continue to grow in my success in country music. I am not only accepted, but I am encouraged and awarded, for some of the same things that I was bullied for at a younger age.
I have also been privileged to provide music therapy to special needs and terminally ill children, as well as working with several organizations to help them fulfill their dreams and wishes. These are the times when I fully understand why music is such an integral part of my life. I have met the most courageous kids that I’ve ever known through these experiences. They have shown me love, acceptance, strength, determination, and great joy. They have done for me more than I can ever repay. My wish would be that they would never be exposed to bullying or be excluded because of their differences. I wish that those that bully them could understand the things that they have to face every day of their lives and how strong and brave they are.
I hope that my story will both encourage and educate. If I could talk to someone who feels the need to bully, I would tell them that putting down or threatening others will not make you feel any better about yourself, and that we all share the same human experiences on the inside. We all laugh, cry, hope, dream, and love. Bullying doesn’t accomplish anything, except hurting the people on BOTH SIDES of it.
Make sure to check out Noah’s Facebook page for updates on his journey to stardom and his YouTube channel for clips of his amazing talent –
And here’s the story about our Wish Kid who enjoyed the time of her life, courtesy of Noah. http://kidswishnetwork.org/2014/12/nashville-wish-trip/