Why 'This Is Me' From 'The Greatest Showman' Is My Chronic Illness Anthem


Over the holidays I took in the movie, “The Greatest Showman,” mainly because I love musicals, Hugh Jackman is amazing, and Zac Effron has been a crush of mine since he played Troy Bolton. Since Christmas Eve, I have seen the movie five times and listened to the sound track on repeat for weeks. Every time the song “This Is Me” comes on, I cannot help but get emotional. I relate to these words and to the stories of these characters on such a deep level that I feel I know their struggles, their triumphs, and their lives. Keala Settle sings “This Is Me” and I get chills every single time I hear her voice coming through my speakers. Her voice has now become that of my hope, the quiet voice that whispers to me in my darkest hours that I can keep going, I am worthy of love and life, and that though I am different, I am strong.

Keala quietly sings of not being a stranger to the dark and hiding away her scars, something I have been doing for years. I keep my broken parts to myself, hiding my pain from everyone – sometimes trying to hide it even from myself. I often do not share my struggles with others because my illnesses are not well understood and the world is so cold towards those of us fighting to live a semi-normal life every day. I have been ashamed of my lack of strength, youth, and health. I have felt unworthy of love, acceptance, and fun. I have cried to myself and wondered why I am broken, or how someone could love the shattered pieces of my heart.

But, then Keala’s tone changes. She shifts from trembling and soft to strong and proud, singing of finding a place, glory, and being unapologetically herself. This past year has been the changing point for me. I began writing and answering peoples’ questions more honestly. I have made a conscious effort to be more honest and up front with my struggles and find comfort in my own skin. I am no longer scared to be seen for who I am – scars, illness, and all. I have realized that I am worthy of love and I deserve the same happiness as anyone else. I have begun to embrace my journey, rather than fight it. I am acknowledging my strength, fortitude, and uniqueness.

I know that the cast and song writers of this show may never see this article, but I have to thank them for what they have given me. An anthem and a song for when all hope seems lost. A song to rally my strength and refuel me for the journeys ahead. A safety net to fall into on my darkest days, and I am forever grateful for the message that “This Is Me” sends. That uniqueness should not be hidden, and though you are different, you are still worth everything in this life. And finally, that the most battered hearts are sometimes the kindest and belong to some of the strongest people you may ever meet. If it were my choice, you would win every award your beautiful song and movie are nominated for, but, since my big break in show business is yet to come, thank you for finally giving me the strength to admit that “I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.”

I have included the lyrics below for fellow warriors. May they bring you acceptance and strength when you need it most.

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)

I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh
This is me

and I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) ’cause there’s nothing I’m not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause
here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

When the sharpest
words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
Oh
This is me

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Photo courtesy of “The Greatest Showman” Facebook page.


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