I learned something about me.
I rarely feel the desire to celebrate.
When I hit any milestone on YouTube, I felt next to nothing. I was just doing what I was supposed to.
When my book hit the New York Times Bestsellers list, I felt relief. If I didn't hit it, I would be a failure.
When my music charts, I get excited. But proud? Not proud.
When I bought my house, I was just doing what I thought grown-ups do and it was nothing to be celebrated.
But my friends... they smothered me in hugs and showered me in congratulations. They repeated over and over how it's so cool, such a big accomplishment, how I should be so very proud. Don't get me wrong, I was very thrilled, I'm still very grateful, I acknowledge the hard work it took to get me there.
But proud? Not proud.
My friends, my business manager, my agent, my followers... they're all so proud, they tell me to be proud. I started to feel like maybe my brain was broken, maybe I don't appreciate what I have enough. Why don't I feel proud?
Then I realized-
I don't know how to be proud of myself. No one ever taught me.
I graduated with a 4.2 GPA. I never got anything less than an A in my classes. It wasn't celebrated, it was expected.
I was on dance team. I was first trumpet in Honors band. I volunteered. I worked almost every day and made my own money. It wasn't celebrated, it was ignored.
I had perfect attendance for 7 years straight. It wasn't celebrated, it was appreciated. They didn't want me home any more than I wanted to be there.
I got into an esteemed university. I graduated with honors and a double major. I paid for it all myself. It wasn't celebrated, it just happened.
When "Honestly" and "(Encore)" were #1 & #2, everyone kept asking me what I was doing to celebrate. It hadn't crossed my mind.
When I release music or a music video, I don't get a call or a text from my parents telling me they're proud of me. I don't get a call or a text at all. My parents don't care about my music, they don't care about my art, they don't care about my accomplishments, and frankly, they don't care about me. They've never been proud of me, so how could I possibly be proud of myself? They've never cared about me, so how could I possibly care about myself?
I learned that my life has been a constant fight for my parents to be proud of me, for me to be proud of myself, and having zero idea what that meant or how it feels.
"Acceptance" is the word, I believe.
While this might sound heartbreaking, I'm really quite lucky. I'm not sure I'd be nearly as exceptional if I wasn't constantly fighting for approval. It's the reason I push myself. It's the reason I'm always besting myself. I'm never satisfied, so I never stop.
That'll never change.
But one thing has.
I'm proud of myself, I think. I'm not satisfied, I'm not done, but I'm proud. I've done so much, I've worked so hard. And above that, I'm a good person, even thought I wasn't raised to be.
I'm so exceptionally grateful to my friends for teaching me about pride, for giving me the love and praise I didn't realize I deserved. God, how lucky I am. I hope I can make them feel the same way they make me feel, because they truly are special, magical people.
And to all of you, in case you don't hear it, I am so, so very proud of you. You have so much to offer, you do your very best, and you show support and love every chance you can. I see it in this community that you built here. Thank you for being here for me, and for being there for each other.
You make me proud.