Billie Eilish released the music video for “everything i wanted” on January 23, 2020, a track from her album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? The Eilish-directed video is a chilling portrayal of a dream she had in which she committed suicide, and all of her fans and friends turned their backs on her. Eilish then woke up from the dream to find her brother, Finneas, at her side, highlighting their close relationship. “We started writing it because I literally had a dream that I killed myself and nobody cared and all of my best friends basically came out in public and said ‘oh, we never liked her,’” Eilish said in an interview with Annie Mac.
The video shows Eilish and Finneas driving in a car together. The mood is solemn and dark as the two drive across a beach, straight into the ocean. They calmly begin their slow descent into the deep dark waters, not reacting, not panicking, but simply accepting what’s happening. Just before the conclusion of the video, Eilish and Finneas hold hands and look lovingly into one another’s eyes, illustrating their unending support and love for one another (more on that soon). The lyrics are heavy and packed with meaning, which requires our discerning ear as parents to have important conversations with our teens.
Everything she (thought) she wanted
I had a dream
I got everything I wanted
Not what you’d think
And if I’m bein’ honest
It might’ve been a nightmare
To anyone who might care
Thought I could fly (Fly)
So I stepped off the Golden, mm
Nobody cried (Cried, cried, cried, cried)
Nobody even noticed
I saw them standing right there
Kinda thought they might care (Might care, might care)
“Everything I wanted” refers to Eilish’s fame and recognition. She’s the girl who has it all: fame, money, a dream house, millions of adoring fans who love and support her, recognition for her accomplishments, multiple Grammys, the list goes on. But all of that fame, in her opinion, isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. In an interview with NME, Eilish reveals the song isn’t about her being unhappy with fame, but rather “about how sometimes everything you wanted…might not be exactly how you dreamed it because it is a dream.” The idea of fame being an unforeseen burden on budding stars is a tale as old as time, but for Eilish, this is all relatively new. The young pop sensation is just 18 years old, and her rise to fame was extremely quick.
She poses an interesting concept: What we think we want is not always what we truly need; and even if we do end up getting what we wanted, sometimes it’s not what we expected. Say your teen does get onto that sports team, or makes the A they hoped for, or gains popularity and a massive friend group at school—is it everything they really wanted? What are they placing their identity in? Better yet, in whom is their identity? Temporary things offer temporary fulfillment, but we don’t often see those things as temporarily satisfying in the moment because current emotions are all we can feel.
She goes on to describe herself stepping off the “Golden,” that is, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a heart-breakingly popular site to commit suicide in the U.S. “Nobody cried,” she says, “Kinda thought they might care.” While your teen may not be able to relate to the fame aspect of these lyrics, virtually every teenager in 2020 can relate to the feeling that their friends aren’t really their friends. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell who’s on your side. That’s why our kids need to be reassured daily of how much we love and care for them, that they’ve always got a listening ear, that they are cared for no matter what. We all need the reminder that our value and worth does not come from accomplishments but simply that we are children of God.
Hope in the darkness
I had a dream
I got everything I wanted
But when I wake up, I see
You with me
And you say, “As long as I’m here, no one can hurt you
Don’t wanna lie here, but you can learn to
If I could change the way that you see yourself
You wouldn’t wonder why you hear
‘They don’t deserve you'”
Eilish describes her brother at her side when she wakes up from this nightmare. While she may feel that no one really cares for her, that she could lose her following in a matter of minutes, the line “But when I wake up, I see you with me” is a moment of gentle reassurance that no matter what happens her brother will be by her side, ready to comfort her. We mentioned this in the previous section, but it’s worth repeating: Does your teen know with certainty that you’re on their side as a strong support to them, that you’re ready to face life with them head-on? Our teens go through a lot. They’re stressed, anxious, depressed, and sometimes feel completely alone in their struggles. And while Eilish’s lyrics are rather sad as a whole, this line is a beam of radiant hope for her. As parents, we want to be a beam of hope for our teens.
But the most important thing to stress with our teens is that the Lord is their everlasting place of comfort, rest, and acceptance. There’s a sense of lostness, confusion, and poor self-worth in those lyrics. Eilish wonders whether or not anyone truly cares for her, to the point where she ponders the effect suicide would have on her so-called “freinds.” As Christians, we ought to feel a great sense of compassion and sorrow for those real fears, because we know there’s a loving Father who does care for her, and for our teens, so deeply.
Your kid may be struggling with similar blows to their identity and self-worth right now. But they don’t have to stay in that place of brokenness, wondering why they’re on the earth and if they even matter. Jesus’ sacrifice defined our worth in an instant: We are all lost, all broken, all confused, but Jesus washed every bit of that away when he hung on the cross. He didn’t die for us to forget about Him and instead rely on our own definition of identity; He wants us to learn to love ourselves enough to see our sins and trials for what they are, and find joy and freedom in the weight of His sacrifice.
We want to encourage you to explore with your teen the truth of God’s identity versus the world’s values of identity. Your kid will never find another person who can love them through life better than God, because while people may try their hardest to love them well, those people will fail them (even their parents).
Teach your teen how to bring everything to God, especially their struggles with identity. Show them what it looks like to surrender their pain points, desires, and past experiences, trusting that God is with them through absolutely everything. Get vulnerable with your child, let them into a difficult or even messy area of your past and show them what it looked like for you to fall in your humanness and rise back up in God’s faithfulness.
Responses to her song
It’s no secret that Eilish is loved for her fearless portrayals of mental health and deep philosophical ideas on life and our purpose on earth. And whether or not we agree with these ideas, artists like Eilish are the ones influencing modern-day culture, so it’s worth analyzing those lyrics with our kids. In response to “everything i wanted,” many teens shared their own experiences and heartfelt emotions in the comments, a few of which we’ve shared below.
“Just what I needed”
“shows that she’s still human, interesting way to portray how lonely it can get at the top, despite having all the eyes of the world on you, it can feel as if no one actually cares for you, and is only watching because they want something from you”
“she’s so raw and truthful”
“No matter how hard it can be, no matter how dark or ‘deep’ it goes, it’s always better to have someone who will actually go through it all with you.”
“I feel like sometimes I’m alone and I have no one but then I think back to [Billie Eilish] and you make me feel like I belong!!”
One girl shared her deep feelings of depression and loneliness, feelings this song helped her with but that she still felt ostracized for. It was no time until random peers flooded the comments with messages of love, hope, and support for a girl they didn’t even know:
“You are loved and [cared] for!! Stay strong hun here for [you] ♡”
“You absolutely are liked – and loved – we all are even if it doesn’t feel like it…It DOES get better from where you are right now but it will only get better if you let people in to help.”
“You are strong and beautiful in your own way don’t ever let anyone put you down with their words or selfish actions. You are worth all that’s good.”
What a beautiful outpouring of support from teens who truly care for one another. Does your teen struggle with things like bullying, suicidal thoughts, feeling like an outsider, or something else? Do they know who they can turn to? Sometimes, all our kids need is for someone to sit with them and listen (and empathize). We urge you to be a safe place for your teen so they never have to question whether or not that’s an option for them. Singers like Billie Eilish are really starting to open up about mental health, so if your teen is listening to artists whose lyrics are of such a serious nature, use them as opportunities to talk about deeper issues that they may not otherwise bring up in conversation.
- Suicide Conversation Kit
- Bulling Conversation Kit
- Anxiety Conversation Kit
- A Parent’s Guide to Billie Eilish
- A Parent’s Guide to Gen Z’s Love of Music
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