upper waypoint

Emerald Yu: Singing My Heart Out

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Wrapping up Youth Takeover week, Emerald Yu had a difficult time finding her voice, literally, but when she did it changed her life.

Not everyone grows up in a nice or caring family. It's bittersweet when someone needs to nurture themselves without a loving home. During one of the turning points of my life, I finally had the confidence to ask for something I had always wanted to try. My social worker struck a deal with my mother that allowed me to have singing lessons.

I was afraid of how many things I thought could go wrong. However I was so excited, I had never been able to do something for myself. There were no sports I loved, no instrument that I was proud to play, and no performance I had been proud to be in. Even during a time where I was supposed to be discovering new hobbies, I felt so trapped by the effects of my past. I was so behind my peers in developing a sense of self. As my situation came to an apex when I was 14, I was given an opportunity as social intervention had entered my life. My mother accepted the deal and let me have private singing lessons.

My first lesson was stressful. Staring at the blue chevrons on the walls of the little studio, I was too afraid to look my teacher in the eyes. She sat in front of me, singing with me and playing scales. I was so anxious about how I sounded, my throat was tight and I was afraid that I was already the worst student. In retrospect, I was just learning. My fear of not being able to please authority figures overtook me. I could barely enjoy singing.

As time passed and I continued to work on myself, I blocked the idea of satisfying anyone but myself out of my lessons and practice. I let this concept permeate other parts of my life. I became less anxious. I became a better singer. After a few months of lessons, my improvement was tangible. Using my progression as a singer, I was able to see that I was getting better at so many things. I was something and I did not need other people to tell me that in order to feel it.


I feel so proud of myself for coming so far. I am sill finding myself, reinventing myself. Singing has served me so far, and I hope for it to continue serving me. It, along with so many things I have picked up along my journey, have helped me come to terms with my childhood.

I am proud to be more than just my trauma.

With Perspectives, I’m Emerald Yu.

Emerald Yu is a senior and member of a Youth Takeover classroom at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. Her piece was produced with free curriculum from KQED’s Perspectives Youth Media Challenge.

lower waypoint
next waypoint