If My Life Were an Album, It Would Look Something Like This

If My Life Were an Album, It Would Look Something Like This

Interlochen pushed me far out of my comfort zone but it was in my discomfort that I learned some valuable lessons.


The summer before my senior year of high school, I attended Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Camp. I went for two weeks for the singer-songwriter program. I grew so much in those two weeks both as a person and as a songwriter. There were about twenty students selected for the program and we had four instructors teaching us everything they knew. Each instructor came from a different musical background. Classes were taught in camp cabins equipped with various musical instruments, chalkboards, and absolutely no air conditioning. Every day we would meet with each instructor and learn about different elements of songwriting from lyrics, music, touring, recording contracts, and group-writing techniques. Interlochen pushed me far out of my comfort zone by forcing me to perform my original songs in front of people every two days. I also had to write songs on a time schedule which really forced me to put my creative hat on and make artistic decisions quickly.

One of the activities we did in class was to write an album of our life. We had to make up titles to songs we hadn't written yet that would chronologically describe our lives to a stranger. It was an interesting task that forced me to think about my life in a very different way. A typical album has around ten to twelve songs. Trying to fit your life into ten song titles is much harder than you might think.

After leaving Interlochen, I have applied some of the lessons I learned there to my current songwriting. Recently, I was in need of some musical inspiration. I decided to re-do the album exercise and update my list. Without music, many of my life experiences would be very different. I have used music to cope with tough seasons, and I have used music to celebrate exciting successes.

If I were to write an album of my life, it would look something like this:

1. under the mango tree

When my family lived in Hong Kong, my sister and I used to walk to school through a park next to our apartment building. A mango tree grew in that park but it never bore any fruit. It was always a topic of conversation between my sister and I. But as is typical of young children, we moved on quickly switching our focus to the school day or the game that was happening on the basketball court. Despite it being such a small part of my eight years in Hong Kong, it is one of the things I remember the most. It is funny how the little, unexpected things can leave the biggest mark.

Grace Bellman

2. Dancing On Your Feet

I grew up in the most loving, close-knit family. I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to say that. When I was little, I used to dance on my dad's feet and hold his hand way above my head when we walked. To this day, my parents are the most amazing support system. I call them whenever I am down and in their own unique way, they pick me back up. If I were to ever write "Dancing On Your Feet," it would be a tribute to them and the wonderful childhood memories they gave me.

Mary Frances Bellman

3. I Wouldn't Be Me Without You

I wouldn't be who I am without my twin sister, Josephine. We are a unit. She and I grew much closer as we got older. Now she attends Oxford University in England and the miles between us are painful. I miss her every day. Despite the distance, we remain joined at the hip. She is always the person I call when I could use some help, and I am ready at the other end of the phone whenever she is in need. There is no other way to say it other than without her, I would not be the same.

Mary Frances Bellman

4. Sasha

Sasha, I hope maybe you are reading this. Sash, you are hands down my longest-lasting, closest friend. We have lived in different countries now for almost 7 years but I know I could message you anytime and it would be like no time had passed at all. You know more about me than anyone and you have seen me in both the hardest and happiest times. I owe you so much. Thank you for your friendship. You are one of a kind and I love you.

Josephine Bellman

5. Center of Attention

When we first moved to Texas, both my sister and I had strong English accents. We stuck out among the southern drawl of our peers and quickly gained a reputation at our school. For a while we were "the British twins" but over time we assimilated into the American school system. I lost my British accent at school because it was more comfortable to fit in than to stand out. I hate being the center of attention so changing my voice and adopting the Texas trends put me more at ease.

6. When You Hold Me

I'm cheating a little bit with this song because this song actually exists. I wrote this song sitting at the base of a tree at Interlochen. It was a beautiful summer day in Michigan and I was missing home a little. I found myself writing this song quickly and organically. Nothing about this process was forced. When You Hold Me is a thank you note to my mom for everything she did to keep me going through high school. My favorite lyric from the song is "when I'm in your arms I feel nothing but safety."

Interlochen Center for the Arts

7. Admiration

"Admiration" would represent a time in my last few years of high school. I finally started to have some clarity about where I wanted to go for college, what I wanted to do for a career, and the passions I wanted to prioritize. I realized that I wanted to do Physical Therapy, write songs, sing, and put effort into improving my health and fitness. In this process, I found people who I looked up to and attempted to learn everything I could from them. Finding mentors in all of these disciplines has been instrumental in my journey towards my desired career and passions. Maybe one day I'll be able to pass on all that I have learned to someone else.

Grace Bellman

8. 01/04

January 4th means a lot to me. I was diagnosed with a medical disorder that will affect me for the duration of my life. While I definitely haven't fully come to terms with it, I am learning to accept my new normal. This song would probably be a sad one but who doesn't love a good sad song every once in a while?

9. out on my own

This title is pretty self-explanatory. "out on my own" would be about my transition to college life. Freshman year was a tough year for me for many reasons but over time, Emory has felt more and more like home. It feels so good to say that I am happy now at Emory. I have changed so much in my almost two years as a college student and I would like to say all of that change has been for the better.

Timothy Bellman

10. What I Know Now

There is this famous saying "if only I had known then, what I know now." I've always struggled with this phrase because while I agree, it would be nice to skip the tough lessons and mistakes, I think they are crucial to our development. I think Luke Bryan said it better than I ever could: "wisdom in your youth would be a lot less fun."

Who knows, maybe one day I will create songs out of these titles. But for now, they represent key periods of time and pivotal moments that piece together a picture of my life. If you are an artist or even if you aren't the creative type at all, I encourage you to look at your life a little differently. There are many things that determine our path. No one thing can completely wreck your future, and no one act will make you a success story. This exercise taught me that every single person is a combination of their experiences and their reactions to them.

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6 Things I Didn't Really Need in My Freshman Dorm, And 6 Things I Wish I Brought Instead

I promise you, being Pinterest-worthy just doesn't make sense in a dorm.

As I packed up my dorm room and unpacked it all once I got home, I kinda felt stupid. I moved in with 2 cars full of stuff (yes, I know how extra that sounds and yes, it was indeed that extra) and I didn't end up needing half of it. Now, I'm swimming in stuff I need to get rid of while holding on to the stuff I didn't realize I would need and ended up buying mid-year. No matter how much you think you know everything, first-time dorm residents, please listen.

6 things I DIDN'T need but swore I did

1. All my personal books

I mean, I'm an English major and I love to read, but no one, and I mean no one, A) has free time and B) uses that free time to read in college.

2. Keurig

There's a coffee shop I can use my cafe credits at on my way to class. I never woke up early enough to brew my own coffee, and I never craved it bad enough in the afternoon to feel like I needed to make my own immediately. It was nice to make tea with though.

3. Dishes and Silverware/Excessive Mugs

All you need is 1 mug and a couple of water bottles. I promise you paper plates and plastic silverware are all you need.

4. An overabundance of office supplies

I didn't use all those fancy office supplies in high school, so as much as I love them, I have yet to reach for them in college.

5. T.V.

The T.V. I had was only slightly bigger than my laptop screen and the wifi at my dorm wasn't good enough for streaming. I hardly used it, but I know others used theirs a lot. Just a personal preference!

6. Tons of wall art

I totally believe wall art has the power to make a dorm room feel less institutional, but I wish I had brought more pictures from home to make my room personal. Pinterest dorm rooms just aren't real, and they aren't what you want when you're homesick.

6 things I wish I had bought before school started

1. ID Lanyard

I personally love these ones from Vera Bradley , but honestly, any way you can carry your ID, money, and keys all in one is a life changer.

2. Earplugs/Eye Mask

Dorms are loud even during quiet hours and sometimes your roommate stays up later or gets up earlier than you do. Amazon couldn't ship these to me fast enough.

3. Wireless Headphones/Earbuds

Personally, I'm an earbuds girl, but either one does the trick. It's nice to not have to deal with cords and to be able to connect to any of your devices without an adapter.

4. Laptop Shell/Stickers

Almost everyone ends up ordering stickers to put on their laptop to express themselves to those around them. On a practical level though, you're probably going to have the same laptop as 5+ other students in your lecture and you will probably throw your laptop in a bag and run at some point. A shell and some stickers will provide more protection than you realize. Check out http://www.redbubble.com for some great options.

5. Small vacuum

This is especially important if you get a rug. Sweeping is not pleasant, and the vacuums at your dorm are probably older than you are.

6. Pictures from home

Like I said before, wall art isn't going to comfort you when you want to go home. A picture of your dog or best friend sure will though.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Gherna

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I'm Not The Person I Was In High School And I'm Not Sorry I Changed

I'm sorry, the old me can't come to the phone right now.


If those who knew me in high school hung out with me now, they probably wouldn't recognize me. If my friends from college hung out with me around two years ago, they probably wouldn't recognize me. It's safe to say I've changed... a lot. I definitely find the change to be for the better and I couldn't be happier with the person I've become

In high school, I would sit at home every night anxiously waiting to leave and go out. Now, honestly, going out is the last thing I want to do any night of the week. While everyone in college is at a fraternity party or at the bars, I prefer to sit at home on the couch, watching Netflix with my boyfriend. That's an ideal night for me and it is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do a couple of years ago. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, it's just not what I want to do anymore.

I craved attention in high school. I went to the parties and outings so I could be in Snapchats and photos, just so people would know I was there. I hung out with certain groups of people just so I could say I was "friends" with so-and-so who was so very popular. I wanted to be known and I wanted to be cool.

Now, I couldn't care less. I go to the bars or the parties if I really feel like it or if my friends make me feel bad enough for never going anywhere that I finally decide to show up. It's just not my scene anymore and I no longer worry about missing out.

If you could look back at me during my junior year of high school, you probably would've found me searching for the best-ranked party schools and colleges with the best nearby clubs or bars. Now, you can find me eating snacks on the couch on a Friday night watching the parties through other peoples' Snapchats.

Some may say that I'm boring now, and while I agree that my life is a little less adventurous now than it was in high school, I don't regret the lifestyle changes I've made. I feel happier, I feel like a better person, I feel much more complete. I'm not sorry that I've changed since high school and I'm not sorry that I'm not living the typical "college lifestyle." I don't see anything wrong with that life, it's just not what makes me happy and it's not what I want to do anymore.

I've become a different person since high school and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot that's contributed to the change, but my boyfriend definitely was the main factor as he showed me that staying in can be a million times better than a night out. My interests and my social cravings have completely transitioned into that of an 80-year-old grandma, but I don't regret it.

Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can bring a lot more happiness and comfort. The transition from high school to college is drastic, but you can also use it as an opportunity to transition from one lifestyle to another. I don't regret the lifestyle flip I made and I couldn't be less apologetic about it.

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