Content Warning: Brief mention of suicide. Skip over paragraph three if you don't want to read about it.
Earlier this year, I heard about a new Broadway musical entitled Dear Evan Hansen. The first song I ever heard was Waving Through a Window, which is the second song in the show. I spent a Friday night listening to the whole cast recording, and was instantly falling in love.
As a quick synopsis of the show, a senior in high school named Evan Hansen is told by his therapist to write letters to himself, saying they'll help build up his confidence. After breaking his arm over the summer, his mom suggests that he ask the people in his class to sign his cast. In the first act, he writes a letter to himself and it prints in the computer lab at school. A guy in his class named Connor Murphy finds it and goes to give it to him. Connor offers to sign Evan's cast after noticing that no one has yet. As he turns to leave, Connor notices that his sister, Zoe's, name is in Evan's letter and starts yelling saying Evan purposley printed the letter knowing he would see it and his sister's name just to mess with him. Evan tries to explain but Connor doesn't listen and leaves with the letter.
A few days go by and soon Evan is called to the principal's office where he sees Connor's parents. He learns that Connor had recently committed suicide and his parents learned that Evan had been one of the last people to see him. Evan tries to explain that he didn't really know him very well, but because of the name on his cast no one believes him. He then sets up an elaborate lie where he and Connor were actually best friends. Part of this is because he is in love with Zoe and thinks that maybe she'll start to like him too if he helps her parents heal after Connor's death. The other reason is Evan doesn't have the family he always wanted because his dad left when he was little and his mom is always working, and he is accepted by the Murphy's.
Now onto why I love this show so much even though it's basically about a humongous lie that gets out of control. I love this show because I've been Evan. So many people have been Evan, and this show lets some light in on us. The first letter Evan writes in the show ends like this: I wish I was part of something. I wish that anything I said mattered to anyone. I mean face it, would anyone notice if I just disappeared tomorrow?
These are words that I have said. I have a vivid memory of being in eighth grade and sitting at the kitchen table and thinking that if I disappeared no one would notice. Everything would be okay that way. I felt forgotten. I felt lonely, and like nothing I said mattered. Fast forward to the beginning of my Junior year, I again felt as if no one noticed what I said. This is partly why the senior girls affected me and my life so deeply, because I knew that they noticed. To give you a visual of how this feels, here's a video of the Tony's this year where they performed Waving Through a Window: (2:41-3:48). (I think it's important that I explain that I don't feel this way anymore. I'm surrounded by incredible, loving, kind, amazing people and I feel very lucky to have them.)
I love this show because it shows how I used to feel. I also love it because of the message it gives: that no one deserves to be forgotten. No one should be alone, everyone matters. My favorite song in the entire show is You Will Be Found. I don't listen to it very much because I start to cry every time, but that's only because the message affects me so deeply. (You Will Be Found) I could go into further detail about why I also feel connected to Zoe Murphy and her songs in particular, but that's a story for another day. For now, I want to say that you all matter. You are all important. You don't deserve to be forgotten. You and the words you say matter. Please don't forget that.
Lastly, I recommend listening to the entire cast recording. It's all on Youtube, and it was one of the best things I did last year (listening to it while doing math probably wasn't, but still).
"No one deserves to be forgotten. No deserves to fade away. No one should flicker out or have any doubt that it matters that they are here. No one deserves to disappear."