First off, I want to wish you the happiest of birthdays! I’m not sure if any of what is written here will suffice for all that you have done for me, but I’m going to try my best. This open letter is a thank you – a way for me to honor you for all you have done and continue to do for me and Garbage fans everywhere. I wasn’t sure how I would get this to you, but I hope someway, somehow, it finds its way to you by the magic of the internet. 😛
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Tina and I’m a 27-year-old writer/music journalist from New York. I can pinpoint the exact time I discovered Garbage. I was about 7 years-old and I remember “Stupid Girl” popping up on MTV one morning. Your confidence oozed out of my TV and I remember thinking, “Wow. She means business,” while wanting to look as cool as you when I grew up. I now know that while you were around my age at that time, confidence wasn’t something you felt you possessed yet, but that’s what makes your presence in my life so important. I, too, struggle with those issues every day and seeing the strong woman you have become gives me hope that one day I will feel that way too. I can’t say I ran out and bought the Garbage record right after that; the truth is I wasn’t ready for it yet – but your music did enter my life in a major way seven years later – an example of perfect timing that still enchants me to this day.
It was early 2003. I was about 14 years-old and was just starting to get my first real taste of the monster that is bullying. I felt miserable, ugly and alone. Music has always been the only thing that I felt I could turn to and I remember listening to “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing” and falling madly in love with it. I felt like you wrote it just for me and truth be told, I still bawl like a baby every time I hear it, especially live. Every Garbage record has been like therapy for me. I believe that song, even to this day, has kept me alive and as I’m getting older, I’m finding that its message remains true for every harrowing circumstance I’ve ever faced. After reading the book by Janice Galloway which it is based on makes it all the more special. The part of, “I won’t be the one who’s going to let you down,” feels like you’re speaking directly to me. No matter where your career takes you, your music will always remain and that is a gift in and of itself that I will carry with me for as long as I live.
I don’t identify with most people my age and that has left me feeling alienated for most of my life. I feel lucky to have found a band like Garbage that celebrates the ‘beloved freaks’ of the world. It feels like I’m in on a secret only a special few are aware of. I think I can speak for all Garbage fans when I say that what you do is more powerful than any force combined.
I admire your tenacity, your wisdom, and your firecracker wit. I admire your bravery to speak up on the things society tends to push under the rug. I love how whenever I’m having a bad day, I can just hop on Twitter and see an inspiring message from you that feels tailored to how I’m feeling and I love how you share your thoughts without any apologies. As a woman in general, I feel like society is constantly expecting an apology from us whenever we stand up for what we believe to be right. I feel blessed to be living in a world with people like you in it and thanks to you, I found the courage to stand up for what I believe in, even if I’m standing alone.
Over the past 13 years of being a devoted Garbage fan, you’ve taught me how to be a strong, courageous woman in a world that seems to be designed to tear down anyone who goes against the status-quo. One of my main goals as a budding music journalist is to one day interview you and thank you for leading me to where I am today. I may not know where I’m going, but with your music by my side, I know I’ll be okay. My mission is to spread kindness through my writing and I can promise you that you’ll always be in good hands if I’m involved.
Thank you for being unapologetically you and keeping it real 100% of the time. Thank you for believing in your fans as much as we believe in you. Thank you for reminding me to keep breathing on the days when all I want to do is hide under the covers and never show my face again. Thank you for being such a beacon of light in my life; for being my lifesaver when it seems as if I’m drowning in self-doubt. It is because of you, sweet Shirley, that I have found the confidence to shine and that is something I will take with me forever.
All my love,