In a first-person narrative, Bryce Hall reflects on his May arrest and reveals how the experience has changed him for the better

By Jodi Guglielmi
June 23, 2020 04:01 PM
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Bryce Hall/ Instagram

Bryce Hall says he is dedicated to changing his ways.

Last month, the TikTok star, 20, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana while on a road trip in Texas.

According to the jail administrator for the Lee County Sheriff's Office in Texas, Hall was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, less than 2 ounces, which is a misdemeanor. He posted his $5,000 bail the following day.

Now, Hall is opening up for the first time about how the incident changed his perspective on life and pushed him to grow.

Read his essay, given exclusively to PEOPLE and titled "There’s a Time and Place for Everything…Including Being a Party Animal," below:

There’s a famous verse from Ecclesiastes that says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun." I know hearing a Bible verse from a TikTok influencer and a well-known party animal may be quite surprising, but it’s a quote that has been at the forefront of my mind since I found myself under arrest several weeks ago.

Sitting in that jail cell for a day, I had so much time to think. I thought about how much I had let my mom down. As a single mom, she worked really hard to raise me and has always been my number one supporter through everything — including my screw-ups. I knew that if I had listened to her 100 percent, I wouldn’t have ended up there.

I also thought about my father — someone who was never around and that I knew to be abusive and irresponsible. He spent time behind bars for unpaid child support and abuse; and as I sat in that cell, it made me feel just like my father. It was a mortifying and shameful experience. I had promised myself for the past twenty years that I would never be like him … and there I was.

I also thought about my fans and followers and how many of them would be upset by this. It dawned on me what a huge platform and responsibility I have — especially with my younger fans. I realized that living up to my Party Animal brand isn’t dependent on being intoxicated; it’s about who I am deep down. There’s a time and place to go nuts…and I can get crazy without alcohol — whether it’s cliff-diving with my Sway bros or pranking the Hype House guys by stealing their sign.

I emerged from that cell as a 20-year-old with a renewed sense of understanding about who I am and who I want to be. I’ve been living on my own, working, and taking care of myself since I was 16 years old, so I knew I had the tools to be responsible; I had just lost my way.

Part of that is being young and making the mistakes that all young people make. Another part of it is making all of those mistakes while on display; most teenagers and younger 20-somethings mess up and it’s over after a court date. If you’re an influencer, it not only plays out all over social media — you get to see it replayed and commented on in the media at large. While being a social media influencer is the biggest blessing of my life, at times, it can feel like being an animal in a cage. Learning how to cope in a positive way when someone pokes at you online or in-person is all part of having this platform.

As a huge step towards making real changes, I started on the path of getting sober. It’s been transformative. While I will still drink occasionally, gone are the times of drinking heavily every day. After getting sober, my body and mind feel amazing. I’m more focused than ever before and am constantly working hard on my brand and have never been more excited to post amazing content for my fans on social media.

In addition, I’ve been working to fight for positive change in the world. With everything that’s currently happened over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to do just that. At the beginning of June, I donated over $30K from my merchandise launch to the NAACP and attended a Black Lives Matter protest. I look forward to engaging with my fans on how this powerful group of young people — TikTokkers and our fans — can all help during this important moment in history.

There is a time and a place for everything — for partying, for working hard, and for making a difference. I want people to know Bryce Hall for all three; not just the first. But most of all, I want my mom to know that she raised a great son. While I’ve messed up in the past, I’m learning and growing … and I will make you proud. I promise.