Growing up is an underrated task in terms of its difficulty.
I say this mainly because It was during my adolescent years that I found myself in the rut that many do during this transitional period. I was still young enough to be considered a child but still searching for the pride found in claiming the title of “teenager.” I was still young enough to order off of the kids’ menu without a stray look from the waitress but old enough to be expected to have an idea of what I wanted to do with my life.
It’s a strange time for every kid, so it’s no surprise that several of us end up going astray. Most, if not all, fall victim to the faulty path that’s been paved for us by our own minds. This betrayal is worse than the loss of any middle-school friendship; in anyone’s ideal world, their mind would be their greatest ally, not their opponent. For these reasons and several other contributing factors, I found myself terribly lost in territory that was seemingly supposed to be perfectly navigable.
Help was offered in several different sources, of course, but instead I found myself mindlessly building stone walls … Something about being offered help made me feel vulnerable. I’ve always been independent and having to emotionally depend on someone else seemed like a daunting task, and it’s still one that I’m trying to convince myself is something cathartic.
My focus has always been an internal one. All of my energy, especially the negative, is kept deep inside for the fear of codependence. Oversharing was never a battle I found myself fighting. I didn’t say enough in a day to even be considered as someone who shared too much. When trouble struck, I characterized myself as heat lightning – only letting out bursts of warning here and there, but never releasing any rain from my swollen, metaphorical black cloud.
And, of course, the pressure built up. I found myself searching for comfort in impossible places – in the wrong people, the wrong approaches, and incredibly wrong ways of doing things. My coping mechanisms were incredibly flawed and this caused things to become even worse. I was reaching out, grabbing onto anything that seemed like it would give me a purpose, or at least a reason for all of the hurt. My malformed coping mechanisms and horrible approaches to seeking out hope led me to constantly come up empty-handed. I wasn’t the only one who grew up this way; depression is highly prevalent in adolescents because of major hormonal changes. Many, like me, feel this same fear of codependency.
It was in music that I found my ammunition for the war, an escape, and, most importantly, a friend – the longest friendship I’ve ever had.
Music described and continues to describe every word I was unable to verbalize. The sound from my speakers gave me an inner sense of equanimity as I felt the comfort of knowing I was not the only one who felt the way that I did. There are no words to describe the feelings I felt as I heard Dan “Soupy” Campbell of pop-punk band The Wonder Years scream out, “I’m sorry I don’t laugh at the right times” for the first time. It boggled my mind that someone else, even if it was just one person out of billions, felt the feelings that I’d earlier deemed as isolated events.
Through this universal language, I found my own voice. I found myself walking into my teen years through sweaty venue doors and yelling lyrics at the top of my lungs with hundreds of strangers. These strangers knew me better than kids I went to school with for years ever will. They know me through the cracks in my voice, the constant bopping of my head, and the passion in my eyes. I communicated with many of these people who I’ve never met and never spoke a single word to. I screamed out all the things I’d been holding back with a crowd of people who felt exactly the same (or had at some point in their life). I, the girl who couldn’t successfully verbalize her feelings, opinions, or thoughts without fear of judgement, found myself squished with hundreds of others and telling them all of my innermost thoughts. I was saying something and I was allowed complete expression of myself for a few hours with zero judgement. Through this act, it was soon that I came to the realization that, when expressing myself, the words that I spoke were no longer lyrics, but my own. While my words weren’t perfect, they were my own. My God, were they my own.
There are still days when I feel like the entire weight of the world is on my back. There are days when I feel like the sky was designed to fall onto my shoulders and stay balanced there until I crack under the pressure. However, I find extreme comfort knowing that in times of trouble, the records on my shelf will always be able to say the things that I can’t. I can listen to my disordered thoughts sung with perfect harmony and realize that maybe I’m not as alone as I’d originally thought. Maybe, just maybe, one day I will be able to achieve this same harmony.
We are not isolated events.
We are not the voices in our heads.
And we refuse to be defined by our heads.
Purpose is found in gaining some sort of inner peace with these fears that we, as humans, all (secretly) face.
You are not the only one who feels the way you do.
Coming to this realization is a daunting task, and rightfully so. Using things such as music helps this process become less scary. Earbuds that yell back at you what you’re feeling will convince you that you are not the only one.
You are not the only one.
You are not the only one.
You are not the only one.