“Art has given me that sort of expression and joy that I wanted in life.”
When you think of John Legend, you likely think about how his soulful music manages to jump out of your playlist, escape your earbuds, and really speak to people. But as it turns out, the artist wasn’t really confident talking to other people when he was in high school!
YSBNow attended the AXE Senior Orientation panel discussion in New York City last night, which was about the need for confident self-expression among high school students. There John joined speakers in discussing how important it is to follow the passions that give you joy, and even shared some of his own experiences growing up that ultimately helped shape him into the impactful performer he is now.
“[In high school], I was a nerd and I loved music,” John shared. “For me, music was the thing that made me feel like I could be myself, and gave me the joy that I wanted to feel. To get on stage, and connect with people. I could kind of introduce myself to them from the stage, rather than have to do it in person, because I was too shy to do it in person. That helped me love myself more and open myself up to other people more, by being a writer and performer.”
Not only did following his passion for music eventually lead to his superstar career, but it also made him feel confident and fulfilled as a teen.
“Art has given me that sort of expression and joy that I wanted in life, and all other facets, like confidence, I developed more connections with people,” he shared. “I think the reason why art really was a path for me very early on was because my parents loved art and music. My dad worked as a factory worker all day, but at home we had instruments at the house, he was always painting and carving.”
John said that he is a lot like his father, personality-wise, and felt that even very early on in his life, his dad was a big supporter of him following a unique blend of passions.
“There’s someone not necessarily the strict definition of what a man’s supposed to be: during the day [my dad] was doing the ‘manly’ factory job, and then at home he was making his own suits, painting, and drawing.” he said. “I think the fact that we were always taught to love art and encouraged to express ourselves artistically helped me figure out who I wanted to be in life and how to be my best self.”
John’s words are really powerful. Everyone has that special interest or hobby that brings them happiness no matter what, and it’s important to make time for yourself to enjoy those things!
Written by Kristine Hope Kowalski