Culture

Justin Bieber: How a bad boy became good

by Wong Siqi // September 6, 2019, 12:51 pm

JUSTIN BIEBER COVER

Original photo: The Western Journal.

It isn’t every day that you get to see one of the world’s biggest celebrities open up about his life behind the glitz and glam.

But that’s exactly what Justin Bieber did. A few days ago, the 25-year-old pop star wrote a heartfelt post on Instagram which has since garnered nearly four million likes.

In it, he talked about the consequences of rising to fame at such a young age, the struggles that come with it and how he is now trying to make things right.

“Have you noticed the statistics of child stars and the outcome of their life?” he asked. “There is an insane pressure and responsibility put on a child’s brain, emotional, frontal lobes (decision making) aren’t developed yet… But when you add the pressure of stardom, it does something to you that is quite unexplainable.”

You hear these things enough as a young boy and you actually start believing it.

Bieber explained: “I went from a 13-year-old boy from a small town to being praised left and right by the world with millions saying how much they loved me and how great I was.

“I don’t know about you but humility comes with age. You hear these things enough as a young boy and you actually start believing it.”

Bieber’s success in the music world brought him to great highs, but it also led to his downfall: “So by this point I was 18 with no skills in the real world, with millions of dollars and access to whatever I wanted. This is a very scary concept for anyone.

“By 20, I made every bad decision you could have thought of and went from one of the most loved and adored people in the world to the most ridiculed, judged and hated person in the world.”

Original photo: Justin Bieber’s Instagram post.

BIEBER BEGINS

Justin Bieber was first scouted in 2007 through his Youtube cover videos. In less than two years, he released his first EP, My World, which went on to be a record-breaking hit – multiple songs made it onto the US Billboard Hot 100.

Such was his success and influence in mainstream music that fans and media began to coin terms such as “Bieber Fever” and “Beliebers”. Overnight, Bieber was catapulted into massive stardom as one of the best-selling artists and most famous celebrities in the world.

And he was only 15.

I was 18 with no skills in the real world, with millions of dollars and access to whatever I wanted. This is a very scary concept for anyone

But things started going downhill from 2013. The pressures of being a child star began to take their toll on him as he transitioned into adulthood and entered what he terms as a “rebellious phase”. 

With his record of crazy antics like peeing in a mop bucket, egging a neighbour’s house, walking around town half-naked to more serious allegations like drink driving, drug abuse and engaging prostitutes, Bieber looked like he was about to go down in history as another child star gone wrong.

BIEBER BELIEVES

But his story didn’t end there.

In a 2015 interview with Complex, Justin shared that his growing pains were the reason for his bad-boy behaviour. Here there were hints that he had changed in his attitude and mindset.

This interview was preceded by a series of guest appearances that same year on the The Ellen Show and Carpool Karaoke with James Corden where he apologised for his reckless public conduct. This was also around the time he posted that apology video on Facebook.

Bieber’s interview with Complex revealed his upbringing: “I forgot what I was about, what my mom raised me to be. I veered off, and I got tainted.” And in a later interview with Vogue, he shared that while his mom taught him to treat women with respect, he hadn’t always lived up to that principle.

He also spoke about his faith and how he wanted to live like Jesus: “I just wanna honestly live like Jesus. Not be Jesus — I could never — I don’t want that to come across weird. He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind. “

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Acknowledging plainly about his inadequacies, he then added: “If we can understand that we’re all imperfect, let’s come to God and come for his help… None of us can handle this world, dude! It’s eating us alive. But, man, I don’t wanna have to do it on my own.”

Many were surprised at the rawness of his interview with Complex, and some wondered if it was all a publicity stunt.

It wouldn’t be until his February 2019 interview with Vogue where “reformed Justin” seemed less like an image and more like a real deal.

In it, together with his newlywed wife, Hailey Baldwin, Justin finally came clean about his past drugs abuse: “Drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing. It got pretty dark. I think there were times when my security was coming in late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing.”

I wanted to rededicate myself to God because I really felt it was better for the condition of my soul.

However, Bieber shared that with the help of Carl Lentz, senior pastor of Hillsong NYC, he made a conscious decision to quit drugs – and he has been drug-free since 2014. Bieber still had “a legitimate problem with sex”, but found freedom when he decided to abstain from it in 2018.

“Sometimes people have sex because they don’t feel good enough. Because they lack self-worth. Women do that, and guys do that. I wanted to rededicate myself to God in that way because I really felt it was better for the condition of my soul.” 

Later that year, Justin would reconnect with Hailey Baldwin, who he believes is a blessing from God.

Original photos (from left): UG Christian News, New York Daily News and Splashnews

BOUNCE BACK LIKE BIEBER 

However, the process of transformation has not been easy. The singer-turned-worship-leader who sang Never Would’ve Made It in a Sunday service over the weekend alluded to depression in his recent Instagram post: “It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning… when it feels like there’s trouble after trouble after trouble.”

“You start foreseeing the day through lenses of ‘dread’ and anticipate another bad day. A cycle of feeling disappointment after disappointment. Sometimes it can even get to the point where you don’t even want to live anymore. Where you feel like it’s never going to change.”

But with support from his community, Bieber shared that he has been able to mature, having gone from “everyone did everything for me so I never even learned the fundamentals of responsibility” to “now I am navigating the best season of my life – marriage – which is an amazing, crazy, new responsibility.

“It’s taken me years to bounce back from all of these terrible decisions, fix broken relationships and change relationship habits,” he said. “Luckily God blessed me with extraordinary people who love me for me.”

Bieber’s story offers hope to anyone trying to escape from a dark past. The answer lies in confession, community and Christ. Fittingly, Bieber ended the Instagram post with the reason why he spared no detail of his messes and mistakes: “All these to say that even when the odds are against you, keep fighting.

“Jesus loves you.” 

THINK + TALK

  1. What was your upbringing like?
  2. Are there problems in your life you’re trying to escape from?
  3. How can you take responsibility for them?
  4. Do you have a community that can hold you accountable and help you grow?
About the author

Wong Siqi

Siqi often loses her footwear in the office. She is also known for her loud sneezes, huge appetite, and weird sound effects. Happens to be a writer too.