In the late summer of 2005, I leaned against the brick wall of my elementary school with headphones as big as earmuffs on my head. My friend burned me a copy of a CD she thought I might like, and I was giving it a spin in my neon blue walkman that went with me everywhere. Little did I know, the sounds that were about to swim through my eardrums would change my life forever.
Other bands have come and gone from my frequently played lists over the years, but the one constant has always been Fall Out Boy. The band was introduced to me in my formative tween years, as the sprouts of my future emo phase were just being planted. Fall Out Boy have been there for me through love, heartbreak, sadness, happiness, anger, betrayal and the entire spectrum of emotions that life brings. But in particular, they helped me realize the value in myself and take control over my own destiny. Here are just some of the lyrics that helped me to believe in myself even when life was difficult.
1. “Tonight the headphones will deliver you the words that I can’t say.”
Whenever I’m too afraid to speak my mind, these words from “Homesick At Spacecamp” made me feel heard all the same. This song is there for me whenever I need to hear things will be alright.
2. “Put on your warpaint.”
The thundering opener for “The Phoenix” is a simple, but powerful mantra I repeat to myself whenever I need to toughen up and get something done or confront something I’ve been afraid of. Whether it’s prepping for a speech in class, going for a run or standing up for myself in a difficult conversation, this song never fails to make me feel stronger.
3. “You are what you love, not who loves you.”
One of my favorite lines from “Save Rock and Roll” is a poignant reminder that we are not defined by what others think of us, even if those others are family, friends, or people we care about. What defines us, instead, is what we are passionate about and what we choose to pursue in our lives. For me, it’s always been a reminder that I am the writer of my own story, regardless of the role I play in someone else’s.
4. “Boycott love, detox just to retox.”
The chorus of “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes” declares a war on love. After all, we go through all the work to get over someone who broke our heart, only to dive back in and do it all over again in a new relationship. But it is this overdramatic declaration that often helped me realize my sadness over a failed friendship or relationship would not last forever. I did not actually want to boycott or give up on love, and sure enough, one day I’d be ready to “retox” all over again.
5. “I don’t know where you’re going, but do you got room for one more troubled soul?”
Although suffering often makes us feel isolated, “Alone Together” reminds us that there are a lot of other troubled souls out there. You won’t ever meet someone whose life is exactly like yours, but you can find comfort and shared strength with friends. Who knows, maybe someone else has gone through similar struggles, or perhaps you can learn from how someone else conquered their own obstacles.
6. “I’m a stitch away from making it, and a scar away from falling apart.”
For those moments where I felt burnt out from trying so hard, The (After)Life of the Party helped me to cope with my struggle while also acknowledging how far I’ve come. This song always encourages me to be honest about how I’m feeling and reflect on how I can continue to progress towards where I want to be.
7. “The best way to make it through with hearts and wrists intact is to realize two out of three ain’t bad.”
This verse from “I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me and You)” can conjure some dark images. For me, these words were always a reminder to be a bit easier on myself and acknowledge that no one is perfect. Life is full of ups and downs, but the fact that people make mistakes does not erase the times they excelled.
8. “The only thing that’s ever stopping me is me.”
From their brand new album, “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” encourages me to stop standing in my own way. We all have the ability to change the direction of our own lives. This song empowers me to kill any negative self-talk and strive towards my goals.
9. “And in the end, I’d do it all again, I think you’re my best friend.”
These lines from “The Kids Aren’t Alright” remind us that sometimes, the end result was worth all of the struggles we went through to get there. The journey is sometimes arduous, but you should never regret something that helped you to learn and grow.
10. “If I can live through this, I can do anything.”
The empowering chorus of "Champion" helps me remember that whatever problems I have, I will live another day and conquer whatever obstacle is in my path. Whatever the problem is, chances are, you’ve lived through worse. And if you haven’t, hey, get past this struggle, everything else will look like a piece of cake in comparison.