Music & Me

Music has helped me throughout my life put words to emotions that I have a hard time describing. When I think about the music that’s led me through difficult seasons of life, there are so many musicals and artists. 

Hamilton came into my life a year after I’d started college. I couldn’t afford to see it in New York and didn’t see it live for years, so I listened to the soundtrack of the original broadway cast on a loop. The confidence he had throughout the story that he was destined to contribute in a meaningful way to his country was the confidence I aspired to. Songs like Aaron Burr’s “Wait For It” spoke to my soul. He’s striving to be successful and honor the legacy of those who’ve come before him. Hamilton has none of those legacies to be weighed down by and is free to seek accomplishment how he sees fit. Burr is resentful that everything seems to come so easily to Hamilton. He doesn’t understand why he’s survived so much hardship. I hadn’t been through hardship like Burr at that point in my life, but I did question what exactly my purpose was. I loved the high-energy songs such as “Right Hand Man” and “Guns and Ships.” I remember feeling down one day and putting in my earbuds while I was walking back to class. I got carried away and started dancing in the hallway that led to the lab where I had to be for class. I felt so empowered by “Guns and Ships,” I swung the door open to the classroom a bit too forcefully. My professor looked up and so did the guy I had a crush on at the time. I felt so embarrassed, and years later I proudly dance at the gym and grocery store. I still love Hamilton and have watched the Disney+ version at least fifteen times. 

Another musical that found me at a dark time was Dear Evan Hansen. Junior year was when I started struggling with suicidality. I remember my roommates were hiding pills from me. This musical centers on a boy who, we come to find out later in the story, broke his arm while trying to kill himself by climbing up a tree and throwing himself to the ground. I can’t pick a favorite. The opening song “Does Anybody Have a Map?” described how I felt in every social situation. How the protagonist described not wanting others to see the worst parts of himself was something I identified with. I found hope in how he was able to accept himself in the end. I desperately wanted to be able to do the same.

I’ve recently been seeing myself with joy and pride through a few songs from Matilda. I have my wonderful roommate to thank, the same one who introduced me to Dear Evan Hansen. I hate to say that I poo-pooed Matilda at first. Catherine, if you ever read this, I’m sorry! You had and I’m sure still have impeccable taste. The autonomy, pride, and creativity she uses to change her circumstances is something I strive to do in my everyday life. Her love of literature and reading is something I can understand. I love watching movies, reading books, and identifying with characters who have challenges similar to my own. One of the themes I adore from Matilda is how everyone is on a journey to “grow up”. Everyone has fears, challenges, and insecurities. I also must say that her referring to Romeo and Juliet as stupid made my week. I never understood how that was considered the greatest love story. I look forward to discovering more lessons from Matilda. 

One music artist who I would say has songs that make up the soundtrack of my life is Taylor Swift. Every romantic relationship I’ve been in could be summed up in one song I’d find that just spoke to me. The most recent songs that moved me when I was going through particularly difficult times were “Peace” and “This is Me Trying.” “Peace” describes wanting to give someone peace of mind that you know you can’t. It describes wanting to do anything for that person and feeling helpless. The song describes a romantic relationship, but I experienced it with a resident I was working with who died from covid. He was fine one day and was on death’s door the next. I wanted to ease his suffering and his family’s and just make the situation all better. I would listen to the song over and over while I cried. It helped me make peace with the fact that I’d done my best and that was all I could do. “This is Me Trying” described everything I felt regarding my mental health struggles. I remember graduating and feeling like I fell behind my classmates. I graduated in the top 15% of my class and had a good GPA. I saw my classmates going to Harvard, Duke, and getting objectively wonderful jobs. I hated that I couldn’t find my own success. For so long I doubted that I was deserving of a loving relationship because of my mental health challenges. I doubted that I could give a partner everything they would need because of my challenges. I continue to follow her new work and find meaning in her new songs. 

In closing, a song that will make me cry everytime is Ed Sheeran’s Visiting Hours. It describes wanting to visit someone who’s passed and ask them questions. I lost two grandfathers before I got to know them. I’ve missed them every birthday, graduation, holiday, etc.. As I’ve gotten older and experienced more life, I have more questions I wished I could’ve asked them. I want to know what my parents were like as children, how they handled different challenges that I’ve faced, and what their opinions on any number of topics would be. I get weepy every time because since I was a child I’ve wanted to talk to them. It’s a gap in my life that I don’t think about on a daily basis, but when I do think about it, it feels large. 

Music has always been a salve and a pathway to healing. When I listen to a song enough times, I can play it in my head. I can hear it in my head as if I have earbuds in. I look forward to discovering more music that brings life into greater focus.


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