How Prince Saved My Life

By: Julie Young

May 5, 2016

As the news spread around the globe that Prince Rogers Nelson had died, I couldn’t control the way my body was trembling. My breath had been taken away and my body was trying to recover from the punch to my gut, to my heart.

I have never before cried over the death of a celebrity.

I was in an Uber running from one appointment to the next and my phone started to light up with text messages. So many friends told me that I was the first person they thought of when they heard the news — that Prince and I were forever entangled in their minds. These messages actually meant a lot to me. Maybe the world does understand, even a little bit, just what this larger than life incomparable artist and human being means to me.

A couple of days ago, as I cried yet again while listening to his music, I explained to my children why I loved and cried for this man that I had never met.

Being the only Korean face in a sea of white faces while growing up and not knowing anything about my roots, my history, my culture all lead me to a path of self-hate. A somewhat common story for adopted people but I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know any other transracial internationally adopted people as a girl growing up.

Throughout the majority of my pre-adolescence and teenage years, I had suicidal thoughts with varying degrees of action on those thoughts. Throughout this time, I was also obsessed with music. I had, and still have, a diverse musical appetite and was a fan of many. But then there was Prince.

Heart and Seoul-Prince-Square

The writer in her Prince T-shirt

As a girl who was different and hated it, here was a man who showed me it was ok to be different. Not only that it was ok, but that there was power and beauty and artistry in being different. Forever feeling misunderstood, as silly as it sounds, I truly believed that Prince understood me. He was weird and unafraid of being so.

In my confused teenage mind that wanted desperately to make sense of the world, many a time when I was too overwhelmed by it all, I would put on Prince and cry. I wouldn’t necessarily feel better but I would feel understood. Many times these cry out sessions to Prince’s music became the antidote to my suicidal thoughts.

He has provided the soundtrack to countless people’s lives. Who he was and all that he fought for will forever be an inspiration. His actions as a human being should be a blueprint for all of us. It is for me. I can only dream about making the non-quantifiable, positive influence he did in his abbreviated time on this earth.

My life’s bucket list now has to be edited, as many items include Prince. (WHY did I not go to that Paisley Park house party last winter?!) While Tipper Gore was busy getting parental warnings put on albums in response to “Darling Nikki,” Prince Rogers Nelson was busy saving lives.

I kind of hate how in today’s cool-speak people overuse so many terms. Terms like epic, icon, legend are thrown around at the most undeserving times. When people use the word “everything” to describe anything from shoes, to a haircut, to a meal; this annoys me. I prefer to be more precise with my words and use them only when truly fitting. Prince Rogers Nelson, you saved my life. You are a legend, an icon, and legitimately epic. Prince Rogers Nelson is everything.

Julie Young is a former litigation attorney and currently works full-time in the nonprofit sector.  Additionally, Julie is a writer and speaker. She serves on the Board of Nazdeek and is an Advisory Board Member of All Together Now.  Julie holds a B.S. degree in Psychology from Fordham University and a J.D. degree from Cardozo School of Law.  She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and twins.