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Shawn Mendes Posts Inspirational Anti-Bullying Message: 'You Deserve To Follow Your Heart'

He knows what it feels like to be mocked for being himself

Shawn Mendes has come a long way in his career, but that doesn't mean he didn't struggle before his rise to the top. The singer took to Instagram yesterday (June 23) to reminisce on how far he's come — particularly since being bullied over his love for music when he was in ninth grade.

Along with a series of photos of himself performing, Mendes wrote, "I'm thinking about being in 9th grade right now. The day after I posted one of my first covers onto YouTube back in 2014.. at school walking down the hall straight into a group of older guys yelling out 'sing for me Shawn sing for me!' In a way that made me feel absolutely horrible... made me feel like a joke, like what I was doing was just stupid & wrong."

Fortunately, Shawn didn't let what those older students said stop him from pursuing his passion. Despite the fact that he was mocked for singing, Shawn had the support of his close family and friends to keep him grounded and focused on achieving his dreams. "I had the best friends & the best parents anyone could ask for, he added. "No matter what they would never let me stop doing what I LOVED to do just because someone ELSE thought it was stupid."

The "If I Can't Have You" singer's own experience with bullying taught him an important lesson about supporting people's interests rather than making a mockery of them. And while Shawn was able to power through the criticism and come out the other side as a pop superstar, others are not so lucky. "It's not joke to me," he wrote. "To make someone feel bad about doing what they love... every single person deserves to do what makes them feel alive. I'm writing this not only to the 15 year old kid who's scared to follow their heart because of what people might say but also to the 50 year old who may be doing the exact same thing."

Still, Mendes acknowledged that ignoring the naysayers isn't easy. After all, there are a lot of people in the world who want to see others fail. However, his message is clear: If you're passionate about something, you deserve to pursue it. "I know it's not just that easy & I'm not asking you to change your world [overnight], BUT I want you to know that no matter how old you are, no matter who you are, no matter where you're from... you deserve to follow your heart. [I'm] here & i'm rooting for you."

As it turns out, there are a lot of people rooting for Shawn, too. Camila Cabello took to the comments to commend Shawn on sharing this touching story. "This is beautiful," she wrote. Niall Horan also commented to let the singer know that he's been through something very similar. "Couldn't relate or agree with something more if I tried," he said. "... We had the last laugh." He's certainly right about that.