Growing up, Disney Channel was really the only channel I always tuned into. I grew up on “That’s So Raven,” “Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” and most importantly, the “Camp Rock” era. Though given other roles before this one, Demi Lovato was really put into the spotlight for me in her role as Mitchie Torres in the Disney original movie, “Camp Rock.” When the movie was released, Lovato was only 15 years old, with a whole life ahead of her. The movie was destined to help Lovato break out into the music industry, and eventually, it got her there, but many obstacles held her back for a number of years. Battling with addiction, depression, and bipolar disorder, it wasn’t necessarily easy to live a life in the limelight. However, what really changed me as a person, and as a strong Hispanic woman, such as Lovato, was her grace, and how she grew from her experiences in her young years.

Dealing with mental illness as well, I always found it hard to relate to celebrities, because back five years ago, no one was discussing the magnitude and danger associated with untreated mental illness. Though difficult, Lovato began to use her platform, fame, and social status to bring light to the issues she personally dealt with, how she grew, and how everyday is a new journey throughout her recovery. Because of Lovato, I found the fire in me to reach out to those around me for help. I talked about my feelings, what was going on in my head, but also, where I wanted to be eventually. Lovato being so public with her past experiences inspired me, and really reminded me how I wasn’t alone. I was never, ever alone, and I wasn’t a needle in a haystack; I was special, capable, and strong.

Lovato’s third studio album, “Unbroken” was almost an open window into what she had been through, especially with her critically acclaimed song “Skyscraper.” She makes it known that she is strong, and built like a skyscraper; people can try and tear her down, but her strength is far greater. With her self-titled album, “Demi,” my personal favorite song “Warrior” helped me take the leap forward I needed, in undergoing recovery. I adopted the lyrics into my daily life, and realized that a couple scars would never stop me from being the warrior I knew I always was, and always will continue to be. I also was gifted Lovato’s book, “Staying Strong,” which is a day-by-day mantra book, with inspiring quotes on how not to give up, and how to attract positivity into your life. Using her music, her inspiring words, and the message she was putting out onto her platform, I found myself looking up to a celebrity, which may seem weird to many; however, when you connect with someone on such a personal level, knowing they once felt as low as you did/do, and you watch them recover, and climb back up, it instills inspiration, confidence, and motivation.

I can only speak from my experience, because I have only lived life through my eyes, and only walked life through my shoes; Demi Lovato is more than just a talented singer. She is my inspiration. When life was dark, and I felt low, her voice bounced on my walls, and reminded me to hold on, just a bit more. She is the epitome of, “it gets better” to me. Sometimes, as a regular person, we forget to remember celebrities that have more followers than we do are human, and feel the same things we do. Knowing that Lovato went through similar emotions, and feelings I did humanized her in my eyes; she was real, she was honest, she was who she was, and no amount of mental illness would ever stop that. After seeing her take the stage twice, all I could do was cry, knowing that my inspiration of years was very much real, and in the same vicinity as I was. I don’t think I could ever thank Demi Lovato without tears in my eyes, because I can’t say she saved my life; rather, she gave me the willpower and courage to seek the help I knew I needed, and was desperate for. And for that, I am so unbelievably grateful; I will always support and stand by someone who uses their past as a way to grow, but also to help others grow, and spread the beautiful light of positivity she brings wherever she is.

Thank you, Demi. Thank you for your lyrics. Thank you for always being honest with your fans. Thank you for giving your all on every stage you’ve captivated with your presence. Thank you for not caring about what anyone says, and being you. Thank you for being such a role model, inspiration, and an icon in my life.