This article was written by our Everly Mag Intern, Connor.
Trigger Warning: This article discusses teen suicide, bullying, mental health, and mature topics. All should read with discretion. Connect with a trusted adult and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you are struggling or experiencing any distress.
SPOILERS FOR DEAR EVAN HANSEN AHEAD!
I think middle school is a pretty difficult time for just about anybody. It’s a time of figuring out who you are, and can result in the most insecure time for a lot of people’s lives. If I ever tried to be truly myself in middle school, I would always feel alienated by my peers. I definitely fell into some dark places at that time, questioning my very existence. Now looking back on it, I realize I had poor mental health but could never come to terms with it because I felt like I was “broken” somehow. It took me years to understand what I was going through is normal, and should not be seen with a negative stigma.
Luckily, high school was a heck-of-a-lot different. In high school, individuality was much more celebrated, and I was able to find those people who made me happy. It was also formative since it taught me that everyone is going through their own issues. It’s important to acknowledge them and understand that it’s normal for everyone to go through troubling times.
Listening to the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack for the first time, I was moved in a way that has never happened before with music. The album has some truly great songs and really struck a chord with me. My immediate thought while listening to it was “I wish my middle school self could’ve heard this”.
To understand what I mean, it’s important to have some context about the show. Dear Evan Hansen is ultimately about a community coming to terms with the recent suicide of a high school senior named Connor Murphy. Evan Hansen is also a high school senior and has social anxiety. Stemming from a misunderstanding, Evan gets roped into comforting the family of the deceased by lying and claiming he was good friends with their son (since he can’t bring himself to tell them the truth). He ends up making a speech about how nobody is alone in their issues, and creating a park in honor of the teenager’s memory. Ultimately, the space and speech gives more visibility to mental health and helps the family grieve.
“Waving Through a Window” is probably the most widely known song from the show. It is ultimately about the loneliness Evan feels in his life. He feels like there is a glass barrier between him and the rest of society. While he can “watch people pass”, he’s been held back and is “waving through a window”. All he wants is for someone to be “waving back at” him. It’s a song that encapsulates and gives visibility to the loneliness many within the global community feel.
“On the outside always looking in, will I ever be more than I’ve always been? ‘Cause I’m tap tap tapping on a glass, waving through a window.”
The song “Disappear” is about how “no one deserves to be forgotten”. It’s when Evan gets the big idea to start a student organization in Connor’s name meant to show “that everybody should matter” and prevent people from having “any doubt that it matters that they are here”. It emphasizes the importance of caring and looking out for each other. It’s a message that, in my opinion, cannot be repeated enough. No matter who a person is, “no one deserves to disappear”.
“No one should flicker out or have any doubt that it matters that they are here.”
My favorite song from the musical, “You Will Be Found”, is about hope. It comes when Evan is making a speech at a memorial assembly for Connor. Evan speaks of how, even in our darkest hours when we’re “broken on the ground”, there are always people who are there for you. It then emphasizes how nobody is alone in their struggles since there is this global community of people who are going through the same thing.
“Let the sun come streaming in, ’cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again. Lift your head and look around, you will be found.”
Musicals like Dear Evan Hansen are more important today than ever. With the seemingly constant occurrence of suicides happening in the news, negative stigma around mental health is a problem on the rise. On the surface, Dear Evan Hansen gives visibility to the many people struggling through issues, especially mental health-related. Upon further glance it teaches us how universal the feeling of loneliness is, the necessity to show basic human decency, and the importance of creating spaces where we don’t feel judged talking about our own struggles. In the end, it’s a hopeful and inspirational show.
Dear Evan Hansen teaches us how universal the feeling of loneliness is, the necessity to show basic human decency, and the importance of creating spaces where we don’t feel judged talking about our own struggles.
Ultimately, it tells its audience that, no matter who they are, they “are not alone”, don’t deserve “to be forgotten” and “will be found”.
That message has never been more essential than now.
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- What Makes You Beautiful?
Feature Image Credit: Helena Lopes via Unsplash