Entertainment Music Shawn Mendes Gets Candid About Being Bullied in High School — and Gets Support from Niall Horan "No matter how old you are, no matter who you are, no matter where you're from... you deserve to follow your heart," Shawn Mendes wrote on Instagram By Dave Quinn Dave Quinn Instagram Twitter Dave Quinn is an Editor for PEOPLE, working across a number of verticals including the Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams. He joined in 2006 as a Writer/Reporter where he became known for his Bravo and Broadway exclusives across print and digital. Dave is the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book, Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Inside Story of the Real Housewives from the People Who Lived It. He's appeared on many broadcasts including ABC's Good Morning America, Bravo's Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, E!'s Daily Pop, NBC's New York Live and PEOPLE's own Reality Check, as well as a number of podcasts like Bitch Sesh, Everything Iconic, Watch What Crappens, Hot Off the Mess, Mention It All, and PEOPLE Every Day. Prior to working at PEOPLE, Dave was the chief Theater Reporter for NBC New York and co-host of Entertainment Weekly's acclaimed TV Recaps series. People Editorial Guidelines Published on June 25, 2019 11:35 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Niall Horan had nothing but love for his friend Shawn Mendes after the “Señorita” singer opened up about one of the darker moments in childhood. It all went down on Instagram on Sunday, where Mendes posted an inspirational message to his 45.3 million followers about overcoming obstacles and following dreams, no matter what. He began his missive — written in the caption to a gallery of performance photos — by thinking back to 2014, the year he posted one of his first covers to YouTube. At the time, he was in 9th grade and a group of older bullies at school had gotten word, teasing him about it the next day. “[They were] 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 and wrong,” Mendes, now 20, recalled. “It’s not joke to me,” he said. “To make someone feel bad about doing what they love… every single person deserves to do what makes them feel alive.” Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes Play Passionate Lovers in Sexy New ‘Senorita’ Music Video Shawn Mendes. Karwai Tang/WireImage The incident might have deterred Mendes from moving on, but he says he was “lucky.” “I had the best friends and the best parents anyone could ask for,” Mendes says. “No matter what they would never let me stop doing what I LOVED to do just because someone ELSE thought it was stupid.” But knowing that not everyone else has that support, Mendes decided to open up about it to motivate those going through similar things to rise above it — and also to discourage bullies. “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,” Mendes explained. “I know it’s not just that easy and I’m not asking you to change your world over night, 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 and I’m rooting for you,” Mendes added. Chris Polk/AMA2017/Getty Lots of Mendes’ fans reached out to the two-time Grammy nominee with support, including former One Directioner (and Mendes’ pal) Niall Horan. “Couldn’t relate or agree with something more If I tried…” Horan, 25, wrote. “We had the last laugh.” Other celebs were also struck by Mendes’ words, including Julia Michaels (“Love this”) and his “Señorita” collaborator and longtime friend, Camila Cabello (“This is beautiful”).