Hey APC! My name is Ashley De Guzman, but I tend to be known for my music alias, “Ashley Dee”. I’m a 16-year-old musician/songwriter born and raised in London, however, I’m Filipino by blood.
For as long as I can remember, music and being able to express myself creatively was like breathing. It was easy, natural, but essential. Without it, my ability to survive would cease. Music helped my identity survive. Growing up, I have always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I believed that identity comes with belonging and I couldn’t find a place where I actually felt like I belonged. I felt as if my blunt corners could not fit into the sharp molds of friendship groups in schools, or in any group for that matter. I still tried to find people though.
However, I was still empty in some way. I was still lonely; I was desperate to not be alone.
Loneliness became a violent battle, and I think in my opinion is one of the worst forms of mental war. It’s yourself against yourself. I thought that the solution was to find “belonging” in other people. I thought that if I could belong to someone, I’d find my identity there.
Spoiler: You don’t.
Instead, it leaves you emptier. You give too much, and there’s a deficit in what you receive. You end up accepting the love you think you deserve. I was victim to this. I was losing this internal war and I seemed to be sucked into this void of self-loathing. I didn’t identify with anyone. Not with anything and it scared me so much that I would be alone.
This feeling, however, eased around last year. Which seems like a sentence that if 11-year-old me had read – she’d laugh bitterly. But it did; music eased my pain
Sometimes, we take breathing for granted and as I said earlier, music was as easy as breathing. I didn’t have to think. I didn’t have to consciously make an effort to inhale and exhale. I just did it. It wasn’t only until after facing enough losses and heartaches that I had with other people, did I realize that my identity didn’t lie with others:
Identity lies within myself.
My identity naturally manifested into music. Every happy and sappy song that I wrote was me. All me. No one else. No one else could do what I did.The piece attached below is the journey to that realization, it will also be part of an EP that I released last September. It’s called “Attachment Issues.” It may seem void, and laced with heartache. But that was me. My identity is anything I make it to be and what I create. “Coming Back” is a song that I wrote last year when someone who mattered to me had moved away. I knew the Ashley writing that song…She was heartbroken, empty and lonely. I’m glad that I’ve changed and that I’m now exposing this vulnerable side of my identity to the world. I hope it would hopefully make someone feel less alone.
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