Olivia O’Brien is getting real.
The 19-year-old pop singer-songwriter got her start in the most Gen X way possible: through SoundCloud. After posting a cover of a song by Gnash, he reached out to her to collaborate. The two ended up creating “hate u, love u”, which appeared on Gnash’s 2017 EP, titled us.
Since then, O’Brien has released her own singles, as well as her debut EP, It’s Not That Deep.
Today, O’Brien is premiering her new single, “Love Myself”, exclusively on LADYGUNN, as well as announcing the release of her debut album Was It Even Real?, out on April 26. “Love Myself” is a confessional ode to self-love and all the confusion and pain that comes along the way. In the opening verse, O’Brien admits: “I feel like I’m different from everyone else/Why am I like this? Can somebody please tell me?” and through a triumphant chorus and emotion-filled vocals, makes her way to “They’re all gon’ say what they wanna say anyway/ that’s why I need to love myself.”
Alongside her single release, O’Brien has also penned an open letter for LADYGUNN, a flinchingly honest telling of her journey to self-love in a social media-obsessed world, delivered in her signature lowercase style.
to you, whoever you are:
i’m not here to sugarcoat things. loving yourself is hard. in fact, it feels nearly impossible some of the time. i’m not gonna lie and say that i love everything about myself or that i smile every time i look in the mirror. i spent the majority of my life hating everything about myself, which was made even worse by my severe depression and anxiety. even if you don’t have depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses that may affect how you view yourself, learning to love your own uniqueness can be a long and difficult journey. it is by no means easy for anyone, especially in a world full of face tune, filters, and fillers. i’d like to say that there’s a special hack, a simple trick that can make you love yourself instantly. in this generation, instant gratification is everything, right? well… sadly, it’s not so simple. there is no instant way to love yourself. i mean, i guess you could get surgery (been there, done that), edit your photos, lie about your life or your feelings, numb the pain through drugs and alcohol, or get into a toxic relationship built on the need to be loved and to fill a void that only you can truly fill. sounds SUPER fun, right? nope!
in order to truly build a foundation of self-love, you have to change your perspective on life for yourself. people can tell you how amazing you are all day long, but that will never make you truly believe it. you have to love yourself when no one is around. when you have no makeup on and a terrible breakout right in the middle of your forehead. when you fail a test or fuck up a job interview. when you go on instagram and start comparing yourself to photoshopped images of supermodels. when there is no one there to tell you how to feel about yourself. that’s the person you need to love, your whole self for everything that you are.
so, how the FUCK are you supposed to do that??? well, for starters, you have to realize that you are a unique human being with your own life experience. your life is something only you can ever fully understand and experience. i think that is an incredible and beautiful thing, something that makes all of us so special. another incredibly important thing to realize is that the way you look is not as important as your character. trust me, i have changed the way i look a million times. i’ve changed my hair, my wardrobe, even my face with plastic surgery, and nothing truly made me feel better about myself deep down. with social media being as big as it is in all of our daily lives, it’s easy to get caught up in physical appearances and material things.
you have to remind yourself that what you see on the internet is NOT real. no matter what anyone says, and no matter how “real” a person claims to be online. everyone on the internet puts up only what they want you to see. even people who post about their struggles are only showing you a small portion of their lives. don’t get me wrong, social media has many positive sides and has done a lot of good for the world and for many individuals, but you have to take what you see with a grain of salt and realize that there is always much more to the story. even the people that you know in real life can put on a front and hide the “ugly” side of their lives from the world. in order to realize this and change your perspective, focus on things that are actually real and tangible in your life.
in order to change your perspective, focus on things that are actually real and tangible in your life. go pet your dog, go out into nature, feel the sunlight on your skin. clean your room. listen to your favorite songs. sketch or paint something, even if you are terrible at drawing like i am. talk to your parents or grandparents or siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers… live in the present. try your best to appreciate that you are alive, and you are you.
…and if this doesn’t work for you right away? that is okay. loving yourself takes time and effort and a LOT of perspective. i can’t yet say that i am where i want to be with my self-love, but i try to work on it every day. i fall back into the pit of self-hatred every once in a while, but i don’t let it cancel out my progress. i am already doing infinitely better than i was a few years ago, of even just a few months ago. i know that the things that worked for me won’t necessarily work for everyone, but some of the things i’ve said to you are universal truths. so give yourself a break, and try to see things with a different perspective. everything will come together eventually, just don’t stop trying.
PHOTOS/ LAUREN DUNN
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