Dear Young Rocker: A Letter About Adolescence, Anger, And Acceptance

Mixed Race man playing electric guitar outdoors

Dear Young Rocker, a new narrative podcast produced by Disgraceland’s Jake Brennan, is the story of Chelsea Ursin, writing a letter to her younger self. As she goes through her youth, battling with anxiety, anger, medical problems, and body issues, and how she found an outlet to express herself in music, she invites us all to re-examine our own relationships with ourselves, reflect on what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown, and to forgive our mistakes. “I want to talk to not only the kid me, but every kid out there who wants to be invisible, who feels strange in their growing body, who might imagine everyone hates them, or that they hate everyone else, and feel like no one on earth could ever get it,” Chelsea says. “I want to tell them that they actually aren't alone.”

Chelsea allows true vulnerability in this story, telling us honestly about her anger issues, which she describes as “hot steam rising up in my chest and pushing its way out of me through my head and my limbs. It felt like I could hurt someone without trying...It's not anger or rage really, but more like being completely out of control, like it's happening to me.” She’d get this feeling when she was made fun of in school for her womanly hips but skinny torso – “like I’m two different people glued together in the middle” – but sometimes she’d get it for no reason as well: “one day, the steam feeling came to me out of nowhere...Suddenly, I couldn't stop thinking about hitting my head as hard as I could on the windowsill. I didn't want to, but I did it. I got a big bump on my head.” She points out that for boys, anger and aggression are seen as a normal part of growing up: “They’re way more likely to be pushed toward an outlet for those feelings, like, ‘hey son, bang on the drums or try out for the football team.’” But “those of us elsewhere on the gender spectrum...end up pushing all that unplaced aggression down inside ourselves, until we internally combust.” 

Fortunately, Chelsea found the bass guitar, and music became her safe space to let loose. She describes playing along to a Smashing Pumpkins song, knowing it so well that she doesn’t have to look at her fingers anymore. “I don't really care what I look like right now. I feel like I am part of the music...I feel part of something, connected. Connected to the other people playing the song, and to something even bigger. It's not a normal feeling for me, but right now, I feel the layers of the song and my role in it.” For any of us who ever felt apart from the crowd, who felt like they could never fit into what the world thinks of as normal, “anyone who's ever felt out of place or wrong or weird for something they can't change about themselves,” Dear Young Rocker offers a place of refuge and a loving message of hope. Check it out. 

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