Start Breaking the Chains

07/17/2012 09:15 am ET | Updated Sep 16, 2012
  • Benni Cinkle 14-year-old singer and anti-bullying activist

This week, the video for my new single, "Gotta Get Out" was released on MTV's blog, "Act."

And while I'm proud of the song and the video, and grateful for the help of all the people that worked to pull it together, I'm a little bit nervous, too.

Not because I want it to top every chart possible and land me a spot at the VMAs.

I mean, don't get me wrong. That would be a blast and all, but I don't even have words for how crazy that would be.

That's not the point of the song and the video. That's not why I recorded the song and that's not why I made the video.

I think I need to take a step back and explain some stuff.

So, last year, I spent a good part of my time on the road touring some pretty quaint and friendly small-town schools across the country. I did it to share my experiences with cyberbullying with kids my age and to give them some tools that they can use to deal with bullying whenever they need them.

And if you're a kid my age, you just know how many kids need those tools.

I deliberately chose a lot of these small-town schools because I felt like they're the ones that normally get overlooked. Especially for something like what I was doing just because they are smaller and harder to get to.

I am so glad we made that decision, because what I learned from those kids at the smaller schools was eye-opening for me.

I heard the usual stories about bullying and the awful way that kids can be with each other. That was no surprise. But I also heard stories from kids who felt stuck by their surroundings, like they'd never be able to get out and do what they really wanted to do with their lives because of the expectations that their families or friends or town had of them.

And that really hit me.

Growing up in California, where places like Hollywood and Malibu are at most a couple hours away, things aren't always so hard. We have easy vacation spots and the "stars" aren't too far.

That's just a way of life for us out here.

But for the kids that I met in these small towns, they felt that, regardless of what they wanted to be in life, if it wasn't available to them in their town, it probably wasn't gonna happen.

Some of them even told me that they felt like they couldn't be "different" or express their true selves (whether that meant coming out of the closet or just streaking their hair pink) because that would not be acceptable in their town. They had to go with tradition, to do what their parents have always done, whether they like it or not.

That got me thinking.

So when I came back home to California, and I was sharing my experiences with Vincent Covello, my friend and the songwriter that helped me with "Can You See Me Now."

"I know what they're going through," Vincent said. "I've been there. Having grown up in a small town being gay I dealt with a lot of bullying. I also had a lot of big dreams, and found the courage to rise above struggles and pursue my dreams. But not everyone does."

Then he told me that he had even written a song about living your dreams in spite of circumstances and never giving up.

And that's when I heard "Gotta Get Out" for the first time.

And I knew immediately that I wanted to record it. I wanted the kids like the ones I met last year to hear the lyrics and be inspired -- inspired to break whatever chains they feel are holding them back.

Inspired to be themselves -- whatever that means -- and to accept others around them just as they are.

And inspired to get out and do whatever it is that their heart is calling them to do -- wherever in the world that might take them.

The video for "Gotta Get Out," debuted on MTV's blog "Act" on Thursday, July 12 (you can watch it here).

As you'll see from the video, which we made on a shoestring (literally -- my little brother was our roadie and he also turned out to be quite the little actor), it doesn't take a ton of money to follow your dreams.

But it does take courage.

I hope my new video gives every kid who sees it that courage to break whatever chains might be holding them back so that they'll follow their dreams, too.

And if it does, and you're one of those kids? Leave me a comment below and tell me your story. I'd love to hear from you. (: