It’s one of life’s great arguments, more hotly debated than Apple vs. Android or Zayn Malik vs. the rest of One Direction. Do you love Justin Bieber or hate him? In the great debate on whether to worship the Biebs or curse the ground he walks on, I’m one of the few who doesn’t really have a strong feeling either way. I know, it’s not exactly a bold assertion, but it’s true. I appreciate some of his music, but he’s never been my favorite. I am rooting for him as a person though, and here’s why.

Bieber rose from relative obscurity to ultimate stardom practically over night with his first single, “One Time” in 2009. He was only 15, and that couldn’t have been an easy transition. His voice had yet to change, but he was forced to grow up real quick. Things got beyond real in 2010 when “Baby” was released, and the world of preteen girls went into a frenzy.

Justin+SelenaHe gained even more popularity (or notoriety depending on how you look at it) when he started dating Disney star, Selena Gomez, in late 2010. Yes, they started dating FIVE years ago, crazy right? Their relationship had more ups and downs than the Himalayan Mountains. At first, it was nice. They were so cute and sweet that you couldn’t help but root for them, but then their relationship  just started to get annoying. They were on again, off again, on again, off…you get my drift. As ridiculous as it appeared, I believe the thing to keep in mind is that this was his first love. Would any of us really want the whole world watching us handle our first break up? It’s hard enough to handle in the privacy of your own bedroom with a quart of ice-cream and your best friend as the only witnesses to your distress. It was clear the relationship started to take a toll on both of them.

Bieber certainly made some bad decisions while trying to deal with his emotional issues. Paparazzi freak-outs, defacing property, visiting a brothel, an underage DUI arrest–these are just some of the destructive ways he dealt with things. The past couple years he was in full on self-destruct mode, and he alienated a lot of people, including some of his loyal fans and his own mother. I’m pretty sure if I had a bunch of people following me around taking unflattering photos of me at my worst, I’d probably lose it too. He recently opened up about some of the reasons he started acting out in an interview with Complex magazine:

Justin Bieber Jail

“I forgot what I was about, what my mom raised me to be. I veered off, and I got tainted. I came into the music industry at 13. I was trying to trust people and they’d break my heart at 15. You have your perceptions of people. There are awesome people who are the lovely, amazing, joyful kind. But I only saw people who are shitty and were taking advantage of me. When you have that perspective, the way you act changes.”

It’s so easy to judge celebrities for stupid and ridiculous things they do and forget they can have serious struggles too. In another interview with NME, he seems a bit more positive about his life: “I just want people to know I’m human. I’m struggling just to get through the days. I think a lot of people are….We’ve got a lot of stuff to get through, and although there’s a lot I’m looking forward to and it’s awesome, it’s a struggle.” Bieber has taken a lot of steps this year to revive his image. He publicly apologized for his stupidity on The Ellen Show and offered himself as bait on a Comedy Central Roast.

I’ve gone back and forth on my opinion of Justin Bieber, but lately I have been feeling much more pro Bieber. He seems more sincere, like he can finally be himself. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up watching his life or because I can relate to his feelings of not being able to live up to expectations others have or the struggle of losing your first love, but I really want him to succeed and be happy. I’m glad he seems to be on that road because for a while, it looked like he was heading towards a Britney Spears circa 2007 kind of meltdown.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 09: Justin Bieber performs at 102.7 KIIS FM's 2015 Wango Tango at StubHub Center on May 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images For 102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango)His recently released album, Purpose, is his fourth number one album. You can quickly hear how he matured as an artist and a person, but he still has that catchy pop vibe. The album seems to be mostly about Selena Gomez and the pain he felt over their relationship, but it’s also about healing and letting go. Bieber is also gaining more respect as a legitimate artist with his latest album by working with artists such as Skrillex, Ed Sheeran, and Big Sean. If you say “Sorry” isn’t a great song, I’m pretty sure you’re just lying to yourself.



(Sources: Complex and NME)