My colleague and I were in a taxi a few days ago and she was reading a text off my phone. Looking at the number at the top left of the screen, she incredulously asked, “How do you have 13 unread text messages?” I have 13 unread text messages – at least – a voicemail that no longer has space for any more messages (I’m sorry, parents), and every time I see a friend, one of my kid’s teachers, a Starbucks barista who knows what I do, a colleague, a neighbor, or a chatty Lyft driver, they ask me about A Star Is Born.
Through every method of communication available, everyone who has seen people A Star Is Born is talking to me – and everyone else they know – about it. They’re talking about the breathtaking acting and the powerful singing, but they’re also talking about the very human experiences reflected in the story – the struggle, and the pain, and the love.
Since the movie premiered, I’d have the same conversation over and over again. And by conversation, I mean I’ve listened, as the people in my life, online and offline, have been sparked by something they saw on that screen. They’re using it as an invitation to say things they normally wouldn’t – that they’re in pain, that they struggle with addiction, that they have challenging family relationships, that they aren’t sure that they have the strength to live another day.
These are conversations that I am accustomed to and ones that I personally experience myself, but for the past six years at Born This Way Foundation, I’ve seen how these conversations still tend to happen in quiet, hidden ways. When I am invited to give a speech on kindness, without fail the result is a raucous and energetic conversation, with audience members participating actively and loudly. When I am invited to give a speech on mental health, without fail the room is more hushed, with a somber line of people waiting for me along the edges of the room, ready to whisper heartbreaking stories and ask painful questions.
I dream of a world in which the mother who needs advice on a son that is self-harming can raise her hand, speak her truth, and be met by the same kind of affirmation and praise as the mother that started a kindness campaign at her son’s elementary school.
The brave confrontation of sacrifice, addiction, and loss in A Star Is Born has helped bring those conversations into the light. There’s a line in the movie that, if I could, I would get tattooed on my body, spoken by Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine to Lady Gaga’s Ally: ‘Talent is everywhere. Everyone in this bar is talented in something or the other. But some few people, few people, have a story to tell that the whole world needs to hear. You have a story.’
I answer every question that I’m asked – whether about kindness or mental health – to include a recognition that telling one’s story, in and of itself, is powerful. That asking the question, saying it out loud or writing it down, is so, so brave.
We want more stories, we want more connections, we want more young people that are certain that the world needs their unique contribution, individual voice, and bright light. That’s why Born This Way Foundation launched the #Someone2Turn2 Challenge to foster healthy conversations about mental wellness.
#Someone2Turn2 asks you to have a real, honest, and open discussion about mental health this October with a person you turn to when you need support, and then share who your #Someone2Turn2 is on social media, reminding ourselves and each other that the only way we’ll get through it all is together.
Join us today – get started by taking the pledge here: bornthisway.foundation/someone2turn2.