Kurt Donald Cobain was born in the city of Aberdeen, Washington on the 20th of February 1967. As lead singer and guitarist of genre defining grunge band Nirvana, he became an icon for the Gen-X youth of the early nineties. He was a young man who was awkward in his own skin, whilst having the music world at his feet. At times he became crippled with unhappiness and pain, which in turn led to addiction. In the public eye he lived with the depression that thousands of young UK males suffer daily, in silence. Despite always being a huge fan of Nirvana, it was during my own battle with depression that Kurt’s words and lyrics struck a chord with me more than ever. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite quotes with you below, along with my perception of them and how they can relate to those going through hard times.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are”
This quote speaks for itself, so I won’t over analyse it. To me it is just a beautiful sentiment. Our faults can make up just as much of what we are as our redeeming features do. Life is painfully short, don’t daydream it away wishing you were something or someone else as it passes you by.
“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I’m not”
In the simplest form, just be yourself. In terms of depression, its a sad truth but it is part of you, part of your story. Hiding it away because of fear or perceived shame only allows it to exacerbate. It’s true that some people, perhaps even those closest to you, may not understand what you are going through. I think the fear of the reaction is a big part of why so many men keep their troubles secret. You can never deal with it unless you face up to it and acknowledge it.
“Practice makes perfect, but nobody’s perfect, so why practice”
I used to spend hours, even days tormenting myself over things I should’ve done or, indeed, should do differently. Point out to me the person in the crowd that has never made a single mistake! Its surprisingly easy to hate what you are, to beat yourself up. I suppose what I’m saying is that sometimes things that you have done can play on your mind, you can hurt yourself with guilt.
“The worst crime is faking it”
This is actually from Kurt’s suicide note; he was extremely disillusioned with the notion of being a rock star. He felt that he would be ripping the fans off by going through the motions when performing and recording. I like to think of this one out of the context of the quote itself; as those words strike a real chord with me and my own trials and tribulations with depression. Maybe, in a way, the worst crime IS faking it, but only in the sense that hiding it all away is detrimental to your own well-being. Many of us have been there, putting on the front, while inside you know something isn’t right. I myself was especially prone to doing this. Keeping up appearances is not going to make it go away.
“I don’t need to be inspired anymore, just supported”
There’s no shame in getting help, it’s not an admission of weakness. I’ve always felt that the bravest part of the battle is actually that first real admission that its more than just a bout of unhappiness. I’m not saying you stand on top of a building shouting it out through a loud hailer. Just to try not to be afraid to open up to those around you. As the Beatles once sang; “I get by with a little help from my friends”.
In the end, after skipping rehab and returning to his Seattle home, Kurt Cobain sadly took his own life. His fans were beyond despair, the world had lost a musical icon, a lyrical genius, a modern day poet, a young man, a son, a brother and perhaps most tragically, a father. His legacy lives on in the songs that he wrote and through his daughter Frances Bean. To this day, Cobain’s fate is a stark reminder of why mental health in young men is such an important issue and not something to be brushed under the carpet.
Even those who seemingly have everything can watch depression strip it away; it’s up to us to fight it and raise awareness. It’s never too late to dust yourself off and try again; there is life on the other side of this battle.
“And I forget, just why I taste
Oh Yeah, I guess it makes me smile
I found it hard, it was hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind”
Kurt Donald Cobain
20/02/1967 – 05/04/1994