Don't stop ... Beliebing? Saying goodbye to a childhood inspiration

When he was young: A fresh-faced Justin Bieber captured the hearts of teenage girls everywhere. Now, he's capturing the gaze of paparazzi ready to jump on his latest scandal.
Photo By: Wikimedia Commons

Baby, baby, baby, ohhh
Like, baby, baby, baby, nooo
Like baby, baby, baby, ohhh
Thought you’d always be mine, mine

Do these lyrics sound familiar to you?

Four years ago, those words defined Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, the 16-year-old with a high pitched voice who sang the repetitive song, “Baby.” The hit single would play on radios over and over until some people grew to hate the song — and ultimately, him.

At the pure age of 13 — and while still trying to navigate junior high — I loved Justin. Not only was he my favorite singer, but I considered him my one true inspiration.

I would hear him say, “Never say never. Dreams come true if you just keep dreaming.” And I believed him. In fact, my personal dream was to one day meet him.

Three years later, I kept believing in him. I kept thinking, hoping and dreaming that he would show up to my door. Then we’d have a normal conversation, like we were the friends I always pictured. I even used to spam him on Twitter so that he would “follow” me. Because of my devotion to him, I also made a handful of friends through the fandom Beliebers — all because we had looked up to the same singer.

Some of the friendships I had made even became more important than ones with people we saw every day. We were quite the devoted community.

REALITY CHECK

Around this time, Justin began to change publicly. At 17, he started to style his hair differently. His famous “hairflip” had been cut. He also started to dress differently. When he was 16, he’d opt for simple T-shirts and skinny jeans that fit comfortably. Now, entering his 20s, he’s wearing baggy jeans that sag, tank tops too big for his small frame, and gaudy gold chains around his neck.

The biggest change, however, was that his voice had finally deepened. He didn’t sound like a “girl” or “someone who puts helium in their voice before singing.” And yet, his detractors still would find something to tease him or be mean about, which — of course — bothered me a lot.

But I never left him. I thought, “He’ll always be the same Justin Bieber that I fell in love with. The same Justin that sang ‘Baby’ and would tell me to never stop dreaming.”

Then came the trainwreck.

Media reports began to surface that he was using marijuana. He supposedly spit off a balcony into a crowd of his fans while in Toronto. He egged his neighbor’s house in California. Worst of all, he was arrested for drag racing and driving under the influence.

I had to face reality and realize that Justin had changed. Big time.

Now, Justin is a rich 20-year-old making poor choices, getting in trouble with the law and altering the way he sings and records his music. Today, it seems that most everyone in America is fed up with his behavior. Some people were so upset, they created an official White House petition to have him deported from America.

OLDER, BUT NOT WISER

As all of this happened in a mere three years, I’ve been forced to wonder: “Why did he change? What made him change?”

Society tells us we need to dress and act a certain way. Society tells us we need to live our lives a specific way or else we don’t fit in.

Even before Justin’s voice change, he was receiving more hate and pressure from society than any teenager could probably handle. If you’re called a girl because of how you dress and sing at 16, you’ll probably try to craft a tougher image once you’re older.

A lot of celebrities have changed physically and emotionally to satisfy the needs of society. Just look at another young pop singer, Miley Cyrus, who also grabs headlines for all the wrong reasons. She used to be the sweet, loving, country-accented star of Disney’s “Hannah Montana.” How, she’s showing tons of skin and changing her music so she can be seen as a “bad girl,” or at least, more like an adult.

People also change over time. As a sophomore, I dress differently than the way I did when I was a seventh grader. I never used to care about my hair. I didn’t care about my clothes. Now, it’s the complete opposite. I make my hair look nice every morning. I care about how I dress in front of my peers. What others think about me matters.

I even act differently. Since I was new to the junior high environment as a seventh grader, I wasn’t sure how to navigate social situations. I was more quiet and reserved. Now, as a sophomore, I’m loud when I can be and speak my thoughts freely. I’m much more confident about who I am.

LAST STAGE: ACCEPTANCE

Maybe Justin had simply been given too much freedom and money, and now he’s acting out while still growing up before our eyes. Even today, I look at him and think about the “Baby” singer who made me want to believe and dream. Who, on those days when I felt alone and unhappy, could simply sing to me and I would instantly feel better.

But once he was busted for driving under the influence, I resigned to the reality that he wasn’t the teen heartthrob I fell in love with. Whatever the reasons for his decline in behavior, he’s changed. The old Justin Bieber isn’t coming back.

That’s probably what I’ve learned most since I decided to “give up” on being a Belieber. No one stays the same. People change over time, whether we’re ready to accept those transformations or not.

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