Her lowest point, the time the High School bullies flung her into a trash can.
The incident, not an isolated one.
The name-calling so frequent it soon became unbearable, the insults ‘profane’ and ‘horrible’, the ‘huge crowd’ that stood back and allowed it to happen offering no assistance.
‘My school work suffered,’ she admits as she relives the cruellest period in her life. ‘I didn’t want to go to class. I was a straight-A student [but] there was a certain point in my High School years when I couldn’t focus on class because I was so embarrassed all the time. I was so ashamed of who I was’.
Her suffering painful, her disconnection deep, her name Stefani Germanotta.
These days, she is known better as Lady Gaga.
It might appear that she has it all – fame, fortune, intellect and influence (in recent days she has become the first person to attract 20 million Twitter followers) – but, despite all her success and popularity, the memories of those dark days persist.
No matter her achievements, part of her will always be Stefani Germanotta, the terrified teenager, a girl running scared of the bullies prowling her tough New York neighborhood.
That the scars endure is obvious.
‘To this day, some of my closest friends say, ‘Gaga, you know, everything’s great. You’re a singer, your dreams have come true’,’ she says. ‘But still, when certain things are said to you over and over again as you’re growing up, it stays with you and you wonder if they’re true’.
This is not intended to elicit sympathy, for these days, Stefani Germanotta is far better equipped to fight back.
In recent days, determined to make a difference and help others in a dire situation that she understands better than most, she has launched the Born This Way Foundation, a non-profit organization striving to help young people and to make the world a better place for everyone.
To quote its Mission Statement, the Foundation exists to ‘foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. [It is] dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world. [The Foundation believes] that everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a difference in the world. Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love’.
Given that such things – acceptance, kindness, togetherness and love – are all qualities that inspire our OMs and underpin our own efforts here in Saunderstown, it is little surprise that the Foundation’s quest has struck such a chord in our studio.
You see, despite our differences, deep down we’re all the same.
No matter our personal stories and individual experiences, we all seek similar things in life:
Love, acceptance, compassion and kindness.
The kind of place where people help and encourage each other and where there is no room for bullies.
Somewhere that those struggling to fit in are not abused and tossed into trash cans . . . .
. . . . because we are all connected.
Our methods might differ, but our goals are the same.
‘I’d like everyone to feel safe in their community, school, home … whatever city you live in,’ adds Lady Gaga. ‘[It’s all about] developing the skills that are needed to be a loving, accepting and tolerant person and to also inject that sentiment into all the people around you, being a supportive human being. I believe that once you feel safe in your environment and you acquire the skills to be a loving and accepting person, the opportunities for you are endless to become a great functioning human in society.’
The bottom line, she says, is about making it cool to be kind.
That’s music to our ears, a neat slogan and one that is certain to inspire us as, using our OMs as our conduit, we strive to take our own humanitarian mission to the next level.
Here in our studio, we’re all about community, acceptance, tolerance and love.
Here’s to Lady Gaga, Stefani Germanotta, and The Born This Way Foundation.
Let’s make kindness cool.