I am finally done with my 12 years of public education. It lasted forever, and I am so ready to move on with the rest of my life. I have faced many challenges throughout my academic journey, and in the beginning they were typical challenges: middle school mean girls, high school assholes, broken friendships, etc. But I have also battled insomnia, PTSD, depression, and anxiety, which aren't necessarily "normal" issues to have in life. They also aren't the worst, but keep in mind, no one has truly defined what "the worst" in life is. We all have a rock bottom. Some of us just haven't gotten there yet. Mine was when I self-harmed my Junior year. Luckily, I was seeing a great therapist at the time, and since then we've worked out how to handle my self-hate and I'm on meds that have really stabilized my mood. I am doing so much better and It's crazy to see how far I've come as a human being.
This soundtrack is a audio representation of how I felt in multiple stages of my life. As in, where I was mentally, how I was feeling, and what was going on in my head. These are in chronological order, beginning when I was in 6th Grade at Trinity Christian School in Illinois, and ending my senior year of Lake Norman High School in North Carolina. The teen years are a rough time, and I think these songs document that struggle well. I hope this soundtrack encourages people to push through to the end, because life really does get so much better with time. Trust me. I lived through it.
1. "Fireflies" - Owl City
The first song on this soundtrack is "Fireflies" by Owl City. It was the first song I heard on the radio that I actually enjoyed enough to try and memorize. It was also the first song I bought on iTunes. I remember thinking about how relatable it was and loving the dreamy synth. Owl City became my first musical obsession and I quickly discovered his other albums and bought those, too. This song also represents my attitude at the beginning of middle school; my head was in the clouds and I was sort of happy-go-lucky.
Also, this was the point in my life where a name for my sleep disorder surfaced (insomnia), and it should be common knowledge now, about nine years after its release, that "Fireflies" is about not being able to sleep. Yes. Super relatable to my 11-year-old self. Now that I look back on it, I see how myopic my music taste was and I'm very thankful that I've expanded my library. Don't get me wrong, "Fireflies" remains one of my favorite songs to this day; it's just that at that age, Owl City and One Direction were the ONLY artists I listened to. So, yeah. Very thankful I discovered other music.
2. "Stole My Heart" - One Direction
"Stole My Heart," the next song on this playlist is, indeed, a One Direction song. Yes, I was one of those girls— but not as bad as some. I remember watching the One Direction movie in the theater and this one girl next to me wouldn't stop crying hysterically and saying, "they're so stupid," over and over again. This was throughout the ENTIRE movie. But I loved One Direction. Louis was my favorite. Still is, to be honest. He still has the best voice, in my opinion. It's like rocky road ice cream, and it's not... perfect. I like "different" sounding voices, I guess.
I chose "Stole My Heart" in particular because it is a genuine BOP. I would dance and sing to this song more than any other One Direction song. I loved how high their voices would get. Still gives me chills, although I do realize they were edited really harshly back then. I was still happy-go-lucky at the time, but then a few things happened that began to dampen my mood.
3. "Beautiful People" - Cher Lloyd
Cher Lloyd's song "Beautiful People" is about how unfair the world is. I started to truly realize this fact in middle school, and this song solidified my thoughts. People who were pretty AND mean in middle school could be savage, but they always seemed to get away with it. They were spoiled and no one but me seemed to see it. Or maybe other people did but never talked about it so as not to get on their bad side. This is when I started to fill up with negative thoughts and attitudes, as well as negative perceptions of myself. This was due to the fact that I was widely known as The Weird Kid. Was it because I liked to draw? Was it because I wasn't afraid of who I was? To this day, I still do not have a clue. By the end of middle school, I barely recognized myself. I was quiet and wouldn't talk much, and I was terrified to try and make friends my first year of High School. I also started to think I was better than other people and hated pretty much everyone I laid eyes on. They were all beautiful, and therefore, they were also awful.
4. "Fangz" - The Ready Set
So then it was off to North Carolina for High School at Lake Norman (better known as a typical rich, white-washed school. Kids literally drove BMW's and used Micheal Kors products as backpacks). Oh, boy. But before classes started, I had to get ready for volley ball season. I loved volley ball, but freshman year completely changed that. Volleyball girls are the meanest creatures alive; they are worse than some cheerleaders, if we are going to use stereotypes here. They weren't even good at the game, but they acted like they were.
They treated me as an inferior and someone who they needed to get rid of. The coaches were awful, too. I've been yelled by them at for something I didn't even do, been called a bitch for speaking my mind, and I've been told that I was a disgrace to the entire school. All of this was obviously uncalled for and slightly abusive. To get me through the season, "Fangz" by the Ready Set was what I would listen to. These music therapy sessions were usually during bus rides to away games (no one would sit next to me). It made me feel powerful and, of course, better than them. That was my toxic mindset. But maybe it is what helped me survive for that long.
5. "Dollhouse" - Melanie Martinez
Things started getting a little rockier at this point in my life, although nothing was wrong on the surface. My life looked pretty great. It WAS pretty great. But in my head, I was a wreck. I think this is why "Dollhouse" by Melanie Martinez spoke to me. Not only was it creative, dark, and beautiful, but also it was a testament to how I was feeling. No, my dad isn't cheating on my mom and, no, my mom isn't a drunk. And I don't even have a brother, so he's definitely not smoking weed. I was hiding how I was feeling and what was actually going on with me, though. Smiling for the picture. Pretending everything was fine. Like a doll.
6. "Shake It Out" - Florence + The Machine
I didn't like how I was feeling inside and I was trying everything I could to get rid of… of whatever was making me feel so bad. That's where "Shake it Out" by Florence + The Machine comes in. It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, but I tried anyway. I tried to shake it off. This is sort of the time where I started therapy, but I had no idea what was wrong with me. Neither did the first therapist I went to. She just thought I needed and attitude adjustment, which might have been true. But it was so much more - so much deeper - than that.
7. "Keep On Dancin'" - Ellie Goulding
I did manage to find a really good therapist eventually. She complimented me and let me know how smart I was. She constantly told me that I was a good person. I would tell her my thoughts and she would make me think even harder about them. Sometimes she would even get me to change some of my set in stone opinions. I was becoming openminded and more positive about myself. But the constant sadness was still there; I wouldn't tell anyone, but I really wanted to die. I would think about ways to kill myself. I would never act on them, but just those thoughts were dangerous. I really just wanted to die in my sleep and not be in the world anymore. I couldn't handle it. The fact that I didn't die, however, meant that I was a fighter, and I knew it. That's what Ellie Goulding's song "Keep On Dancin'" is all about. She keeps dancing even in the midst of turmoil.
8. "Midnight City" - M83
Okay. This is when things start to go pitch black, with "Midnight City" by M83. I was driving home from somewhere and I just kept thinking of how much I wanted to run myself off the road. This song was on the radio. I was in so much pain and I was crying and I was alone. So alone. No one could help me. Nothing could save me. No one would care.
9. "Missing You" - All Time Low
One day it finally happened: Rock Bottom. (My all time low, if you will. Ha.) I gave in to what I was trying so hard to overcome. I cut myself out of self hatred and pain. Pain from the unfairness of it all, pain from horrible situations I've been in, pain from my own mind. It hurt much better than what I was feeling inside. Plus, verbal abuse never left any wounds, but these cuts did. This is what they did to me, I said to myself. This shows that they hurt me. But then I heard "Missing You" by All Time Low (I know, classic emo, right?). It was about someone trying to help their friend get out of a depression. "You'll be missing out, and we'll be missing you," they said. And it was true. And I finally understood it wasn't just me.
10. "Freak of Nature" - Broods
Then I also realized it wasn't my fault that I was feeling these things. It wasn't my doing. I didn't choose this life. My therapist came to the conclusion that I had depression anxiety, and my condition was finally real. It was a legitimate mental illness. And it was curable. Of course, I still felt like an outcast. A freak of nature, just like the song by Broods. I can blame Mother Nature for the way I am. It's her fault that I have a serotonin deficiency. But that doesn't mean I give up. I have to keep fighting to get better. That's how it works. So I started taking medication for it, and after a while I was no longer caged by sadness. I could feel other emotions. I was happy, and I could finally feel anger again. I became more outgoing and I made so many new friends. I became who I was before. Happy-go-lucky.
11. "Moonshine" - Lights
"Moonshine" by Lights is the last song on this soundtrack because it is who I am now. This is MY time, and I'm going to finally dance with my friends rather than with the devil. I'm going to embrace myself and all that makes me: my creativity, my fun spirit, my loving and caring heart. I am not in a hole. I am in the moon shine, feeling amazing and free-spirited. Feeling alive. And of course, the darkness still calls. Depression doesn't just go away. It's still there but now it's managed. I am a new person, and I've never liked myself more.
Thank you so much for taking this journey with me! Sorry, it got so dark towards the middle there. But It got better! It got all shiny and wholesome! But yeah, adolescence isn't fun. I would never do it again, given the chance. But without it, I wouldn't be who I am right now, and holy crap I love who I am. I love my life and I'm very optimistic about the future. So yeah, just get through it, keep fighting, and don't be afraid to ask for help. From ANYONE. And therapy really does help. You just need to find the right one.
Also, have fun, take chances, don't fret. See you on the other side.