We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofWilliam Ceren

It is often difficult for children and teenagers to fully comprehend life or value things that come your way. That was the case for me nearly, if not everything new I learned or experienced. I always ignored certain challenges and new educational materials that came my way not realizing that it would eventually come across my face during a conversation. This was embarrassing to me because not only was I scared of being judged for what I listened to, but I was also intimidated and embarrassed by people’s ability to always have a favorite subject at school or a favorite artist. I felt like it was slowly changing the way I was behaving and realized being paranoid was now a thing. It was kind of like a “just ignore it and hope it won’t come back.” 

Everyone had something that expressed who they were and brought a special connection with other people. I felt left out like I was not included in an inside joke. One of the biggest things I noticed growing up in a Hispanic family was that they all passionately love music, everyone plays music from different genres for people to discover and possibly dance to. Whether it was as cheesy as hip hop or as intense as heavy metal, my mind was living under a rock, not caring or knowing about any bands or artists. All I knew was that my family would always put things like cumbias and reggaetones whenever there was a party or a family gathering of some sort, and I would just go along with it because it was what everyone enjoyed for a reason that I could not comprehend. I didn’t want to feel left out like I always did with my friends and family. However, I never ventured out to explore other music. Instead, I adapted to my family’s taste in music. 

That changed on a random day as a 13-year old boy trying to survive through the rough days of middle school. I was struck by the sound of something different, a new rhythm that I had heard in movies, something that sounded familiar came on, but it was still new to me at the same time. The aggressive sounds of the electric guitar and the lightning-fast beating of the drums opened my ears. That is the moment I realized I had found the missing piece of my life. I never noticed that something aggressive would completely change the way I think and behave, and after many years of nothing but being the boring one, I finally had something I could call my own. Classic rock bands like Kiss, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin, and many others really made me feel like I just discovered a whole new planet filled with life and excitement. This new feeling taught me that something as simple as music could change a human being in a matter of seconds, whether it's by looking for it, or by randomly slapping me in the face. 

My life made a 180-degree turn forever after that explosion of wildness within me. It was at that moment I realized that any moment can pass one by without one noticing, and I developed this new feeling that brings me a firey and wild sensation in my soul that feels like a riot of electricity running through my veins. I now can live life on the fast lane and fly through the clouds as the Eagles, or become the Master of Puppets creating sounds of destruction as Metallica, with no hesitation. It's who I am. Being able to fit in with others that bring the same level of energy as I do no longer makes me feel left out anymore. The music I love will forever follow me like a ghost of hysteria. Keeping my hair long and listening to aggressive guitar playing on full blast defines who I am today, and changed my definition from isolation to wild.

© William Ceren. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.