Sarah Peacock confronts past traumas with razor sharpness. With her new song “The Cool Kids,” she mines a childhood of bullying as a way to finally heal and to also offer compassion, understanding, and a shoulder to cry on. “‘I am rubber / You are glue’ / Ain’t that the saying we used to use / On the cool kids,” she laments on the opening line, reconfiguring personal mantras as a microscope to deep-seated pain. “‘I know you are / But what am I’ / I must have said that a million times / To the cool kids.”
Peacock is far wiser these days, but the pain hangs on every syllable. “As an adult, I have a different perspective on what it means to be a cool kid. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that hurting people tend to hurt people. I look differently now on the kids that picked on me,” she tells Audiofemme.
In writing such a vulnerable ballad, instead of opting for a rageful rocker, she has found “compassion in unlikely places,” which she then reapplies to those who’ve hurt her. “We’re all fighting a silent battle no one knows anything about,” she points out. “How terribly someone must be hurting in order to enjoy hurting someone else. I believe in the underdog, and I think this song elevates the down-hearted. At the same time, without being heavy handed, it calls out abuse of this nature for what it really is.”
The compassion she’s excavated is paid forward in song. “The Cool Kids” frames the truth in an unbiased format, yet doesn’t dismiss or invalidate the emotional punches. “Bones will heal / But a heart just won’t,” she later sings in a barely audible whisper. It’s evident her wounds haven’t completely healed, but she’s getting there.
“I think unraveling and processing childhood trauma is a lifelong process. So much of what we go through as little kids defines how we respond to life forever. Most of us have a lot of unlearning to do on our journey towards healing,” she confides. “At this point in my life, this trauma is now something I can reflect back on and use my feelings to create songs like this in hopes that my art will plant some seeds of positive change and awareness in the world.”
Later in life, Peacock came out as gay, and she soon found the battle for self-worth to be compounded in an unexpected way. “From a very early age, I was fed messages of not being good enough. It started out as not being good enough for my peers. Then, I wasn’t good enough for my God. And if I wasn’t good enough for God, I wasn’t enough for my family,” she notes of the ongoing cycle.
Peacock, now 37, has made leaps and bounds to reclaim herself – but being a woman in the music industry has wrought its own struggles. “I have to set my intention daily with positive affirmations that I am enough just the way I am. Or else on the dark days, those demons tend to resurface. It’s not pretty.”
More than anything, “The Cool Kids” exemplifies breaking vicious cycles, and Peacock not only witnessed such redemption in herself but also through her mother. “My mother didn’t really have the kind of love she deserved to have growing up. Even as an adult, her relationship with her mother was always strained. It’s a miracle she’s not rocking back and forth sucking her thumb in the fetal position at 64. She didn’t let her past become an excuse to live her life that way.”
A strong will proved she could fly free, and it set in motion a ripple effect. “She set her intention, chose a wonderful man to marry, and loved my two sisters and I the way she was never loved. She taught us kindness, honesty, and instilled all the values in us that I plan to pass down to my children.”
Peacock can’t change the past, but she can change how she reacts to it. With music her saving grace, beginning when she was 12 or 13, she plants her feet as a beacon of hope to a new generation. Her journey informs her music and gives her courage to speak about anti-bullying at the high school level all across the country. “If you had a crappy childhood, you can’t go back and change it, but going forward, you can make the choice to give yourself the gift of getting the tools you need to deal with life on life’s terms,” she says. “The takeaway here is really being kind and forward focused on our mental health while encouraging our kids to do the same.”
“The Cool Kids” is the final sample of her new album, Burn the Witch, out March 27, and it symbolizes her “heart, my message, and my intention with my platform,” she says. “If there’s one song I would want the world to remember me by, it would probably be this one. [I hope] that people will remember they are beautiful and that they are enough just the way they are. We are all a lot more alike than we are different.”
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