by Nik Gonzales
Nik Gonzales is a student at Pikes Peak Community College. His father, Army Major Ken Gonzales, is stationed at Camp Humphreys in South Korea for the third time. This shift has been a change for both him and his family. His wife, Lex Gonzales, has done a phenomenal job taking care of their children, Nikolai, Joseph, Sonnie, and Violet, while he is out of the country.
There is always that one chapter in our lives that helps build our character. Whether it is middle school, high school, or college, there will always be a moment in our life that will make us change. Middle school and high school are when I had to change. This chapter of life is where dumb stunts and degrading comments determine popularity.
When I was a child, my appearance was not the greatest. I was constantly worried about what others thought of me. This mindset made me eat my feelings and gain weight. Soon my confidence began to plummet. I tried keeping my head high on my shoulders, although the effort was very short-lived. Because when someone tells you something negative enough times, you will begin to believe it.
Every day was a constant battle with myself, as I did not want to go to school because I knew I would be made fun of like every other day. Each comment was like a dagger through my soul, but I just kept pushing because I’m a Gonzales, and we DO NOT QUIT.
I mentioned to my parents how I was being bullied. Their expressions hurt me more than it hurt them, for they knew the pain and struggles. My dad, who is now a Major in the Army and a great leader, explained his struggles. He mentioned how he had “dumbo ears,” which brought so many rude comments and stares as a kid and teen. Hearing his story almost broke me. Knowing that someone else almost wanted to give up because of certain insecurities is so hard to hear. It is almost jarring to hear but a necessary catharsis. My dad’s words began to hit me like a train. He ended the conversation by saying, “Look, if I had gone through with those emotions, I would not have what I have today like you, son. I would not have any of these guitars, I would have never met your mom, and I would have never had any of my babies.”
There was a period when I would cry myself to sleep almost every night, knowing the pain of the day coming. Even having my dad’s knowledge and experience ingrained in my head did not rid any of my problems. I still had to face the world and its cruelty with or without my dad’s story. However, with his insight, I had at least some hope to hang on. So I kept pushing.
The days began to feel the same, like a haze. However, the more I grew, the more I matured, and more people respected me. I tried to make witty jokes and be wise, but sometimes that did not change people’s views. This turning point was when I began to make a change. The pain was too much, and I could not deal with it. I started searching for an escape to take my mind off the pain. Most go to drugs or the streets, but I escaped by listening to more music. Music was a world in which I could enjoy myself with no worries.
My passion for music grew gradually. Each song gave a different emotion and soothed another. I became more inspired to tackle the harshest moments of life. The love had grown so much to inspire me to get a guitar. I was able to snatch a $20 guitar from a family friend. This guitar was a crappy POS, but, hey, everyone has to start somewhere. I began to noodle around on the guitar, even though I had no clue what I was doing. But, before I knew it, I heard a significant difference in the way I sounded. Each hour of practice made me sound at least four times better. Now the game was on. I was so hooked on playing music. The more I played, the harder my fingertip calluses became. All-day, every day, I wanted to play my guitar. My guitar and I became inseparable.
The rampant emotions slowly started coming to a halt. Music lets me express who I am, with no worry of what anyone thinks. Even if rude comments were directed towards me, I would exchange a witty comeback and walk away, unphased. My mindset was now, “Pfft, do not talk smack unless you can play Crazy Train, Back in Black, or Kashmir, with perfect timing and rhythm.” I knew so many songs at the time and felt like a rockstar. At this time, I began growing my hair out like my idols. Even if my emotions tried getting the best of me, I would go play some guitar and feel a lot better.
More confidence and power came with music. I even began working out and changing my diet. Music helped escape the pain of sore muscles and kept inspiring me to be the best version of myself. Along with the help of family, I was able to shift into who I wanted to become. Now, with my hair long and my head up high, I have more confidence than ever. Pursuing music, knowledge, and a sense of self is a grand achievement in one’s life. I am no longer the little fat boy everyone used to make fun of, for I am now a rockstar-badass who does NOT take any smack from anyone.
I encourage everyone to become more passionate about music. Simple songs and sounds soothe our souls for the better. Without music, there is no happiness. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel; playing guitar was the light for me. Just remember, there are always better days ahead. Even if today feels terrible, tomorrow will never fail to feel better.