Songs About Growing Up

5 Songs That Helped Me Grow Up

A few lessons in getting older.


Some people use pictures to reflect on key moments of their life. Others use books or fashion trends. In the following list, I gather songs that I listened to at a distinct period of time, ones that had a large impact on my thoughts, and explain how they bring me back to certain places and resonate with me more as I get older. A few of them may not have big, overarching lessons that tell you all there is to know about growing up — but they nonetheless had an impact on the way I continue to see the world. If you ever find yourself in a weird in-between phase, I recommend closing your eyes and giving these songs a listen. That's what I always do.

"Ribs" - Lorde

Bittersweet and nostalgic, "Ribs" is a song I always come back to whenever growing up gets a little too complicated. In the song's nearly fifty-second introduction, quiet echoes build into a crescendo, setting a dramatic tone straight off the bat. But the real power in "Ribs" comes from its lyrics, at once so simple and so profound: I want 'em back (I want 'em back) / The minds we had (the minds we had) / It's not enough to feel the lack / I want 'em back, I want 'em back, I want 'em." It's a silent ode to childhood, mourning the simplicity of the past while dreading the "craziness" of getting old. And it's one of my favorite songs.

"Fat Lip" - Sum 41

I'd like to think that everyone went through a semi-punk music phase in middle school, but if I really am alone in this, oh well. "Fat Lip" is the product of teenage angst. Originally released in April 2001 by Canadian rock band Sum 41, it's become one of the most recognized works of the aughts, and the band's most popular single. It's got all the marks of punk: distorted guitar sounds and sheer, uninhibited rage: "Because you don't / Know us at all we laugh when old people fall / But what would you expect with a conscience so small?" Listening back to this song makes me wonder why I was so angry as a thirteen year-old. Even though I don't listen to a lot of punk music anymore, it'll always be a classic.

"Portugal" - Walk the Moon

At the outset, Walk the Moon's 2014 record "Portugal" seems to follow the traditional "one that got away" tale. But if you listen closely, there's more to it. The band kicks its synth-pop skills into full gear on this record, creating a song that is ballad-like in lyrics but ultimately triumphant in sound. With verses like, "You grow up when you're not looking / We grow up but without knowing / And all of a sudden I'm leaving," the song tackles one of the most basic guarantees of getting older: leaving people behind and relying on yourself, "'Cause even on your own / You are not alone." Moving on to a new chapter in life can be hard, but this song makes it easier.

"High School Never Ends" - Bowling For Soup

Another product of my middle school musical choices — and a good one. Also, remember Bowling for Soup? This song was released in 2006 as the first single off the band's sixth album, "The Great Burrito Extortion Case." The title says it all: high school, specifically the social hierarchy that exists within it, never seizes. The band partially illustrates this point by using the names of pop culture figures and comparing them to social fixtures in high school: Reese Witherspoon, she's the prom queen / Bill Gates, captain of the chess team…". Though I hadn't even entered high school when I first listened to this song, nothing ringed more true to me after I eventually graduated. Those pesky little things we hated about our time there — social climbers, popular cliques, jocks — they're all out there in the adult world, too. I credit Bowling for Soup for instilling this life lesson in me before I even understood it.

"Prom" - SZA

SZA's debut album Ctrl came out in June 2017, at the tail end of my junior year of high school. Since then, many of the songs have taken on a new meaning to me, "Prom" most of all. It's fitting that the song should be named after one of the most defining events of adolescence. In my book, "Prom" is about that nagging worry in the back of your mind when you feel you're not doing enough — academically, socially, professionally. It's about watching the years go by and fearing that you're slipping behind, or that you're not ready to make that big move ahead. In my experience, those worries are more exasperating than constructive. I think SZA would agree.

Popular Right Now

8 Types Of People Fetuses Grow Into That 'Pro-Lifers' Don't Give 2.5 Shits About

It is easy to fight for the life of someone who isn't born, and then forget that you wanted them to be alive when you decide to hate their existence.


For those in support of the #AbortionBans happening all over the United States, please remember that the unborn will not always be a fetus — he or she may grow up to be just another person whose existence you don't support.

The fetus may grow up to be transgender — they may wear clothes you deem "not for them" and identify in a way you don't agree with, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them a mentally unstable perv for trying to use the bathroom.

The fetus may grow up to be gay — they may find happiness and love in the arms of someone of the same gender, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them "vile" and shield your children's eyes when they kiss their partner.

The fetus may grow up and go to school — to get shot by someone carrying a gun they should have never been able to acquire, and their life will mean nothing to you when your right to bear arms is on the line.

The fetus may be black — they may wear baggy pants and "look like a thug", and their life will mean nothing to you when you defend the police officer who had no reason to shoot.

The fetus may grow up to be a criminal — he might live on death row for a heinous crime, and his life will mean nothing to you when you fight for the use of lethal injection to end it.

The fetus may end up poor — living off of a minimum wage job and food stamps to survive, and their life will mean nothing to you when they ask for assistance and you call them a "freeloader" and refuse.

The fetus may end up addicted to drugs — an experimentation gone wrong that has led to a lifetime of getting high and their life will mean nothing to you when you see a report that they OD'd and you make a fuss about the availability of Narcan.

The fetus may one day need an abortion — from trauma or simply not being ready, and her life will mean nothing to you as you wave "murderer" and "God hates you" signs as she walks into the office for the procedure.

* * *

Do not tell me that you are pro-life when all of the above people could lose their lives in any way OUTSIDE of abortion and you wouldn't give 2.5 shits.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is gay or trans, you will berate them for who they are or not support them for who they love.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is poor or addicted, you will refuse the help they desperately need or consider their death a betterment of society.

You fight for the baby to be born, but when the used-to-be-classroom-of-fetuses is shot, you care more about your access to firearms than their lives.

It is easy to pretend you care about someone before they are even born, and easy to forget their birth was something you fought for when they are anything other than what you consider an ideal person.

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Factors to Consider When Commiting to a College

Lets get past the prestige of a name and get down to it.


It's that time of year again, time for high school seniors to choose where they'll continue their education. Fresh out of the college application process just a year ago, I remember well the uncertainness of acceptances and then the decision that looms over you like a dark cloud until May 1st. Back then it seemed to complex between the financials and housing, so I've broken up factors of my own college decision-making process, in hopes that it will make your decision clearer and more transparent.


College Profiles - Emmanuel College

When you graduate, are jobs readily available around the school? Does the surrounding area provide options for entertainment and a way to escape on the weekends?

Public Transportation

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Are their trains, buses, or subways that can provide an easy and affordable way to get home and to get to surrounding attractions. Public transit should be a priority especially if parking for freshman is limited or unavailable.

Prestige of your desired major

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Is the school known for your planned major? Does it have a variety of minors and the flexibility to change majors?

Social Life

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Does greek life monopolize a large part of the social life on campus? Does the university plan events to interact with fellow students and meet new people? Is there a large commuter population that may go home on weekends?

Financial Worth

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Will the name of the school really be worth the debt you might rack up? Does the school offer financial aid, work-study, or scholarships? Is the degree worth the time you'll spend paying it off?

Freshman Retention Rate

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What is the percentage of students who return their sophomore year? How does this reflect the first year experience?

Student to Faculty Ratio

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What is the student to faculty ratio? Do the classes mostly consist of large lectures? Do they include smaller discussion groups to ask specific questions?

Job and Internship Opportunities

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Does the school work internships into the curriculum? What is the percentage of students employed six months after graduation?

Curriculum Flexibility

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Are you able to take classes that interest you? Is the curriculum rigid?

Meal Plans and Dining Options

Dining Services

Are their dining options flexible both in and out of the dining halls? Are their accessible dining options off campus?


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Are there a variety of clubs and activities to meet people and take a break from academics? Are their clubs pertaining to your major that will build your resume?

Sports Life

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What division is the school in? Do the sports interfere with academics? Are there club and intramural options?


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Is there a strong police presence on campus? Is the school situated in a dangerous area? Is there a blue light system?

Alumni and Networking

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Are the school alumni active? Does the school host events to connect with them and explore possible job opportunities?

Job Opportunities on Campus

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Is there a way to earn money on campus? Are the hours flexible around an academic schedule?

You shouldn't expect every school to check all of these boxes, but it should fulfill all of your priorities. Consider which of these is the most important to you, and always weigh the costs and benefits to make sure you'll be happy there, while also not accumulating a large amount of student debt.

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