Music I Grew Up On

What do Shakira, Avril Lavigne, and Alanis Morrisette have in common?

They’ve all been on my Ipod since around the 7th grade. And even though my headphones have changed (drastically), I am still listening to them and relating to them, on some level. Sort of.

Like, take today, for instance. I guess I really wanted to take a trip down memory lane because I turned on some Avril Lavigne. Way before her marriage to Sum41 band member or Nickelback frontman. I went back all the way to her first album “Let Go” and even her second album “Under My Skin.”

And at first I laughed hysterically at the fact that I remembered all of the words and where I was when I was belting them out about 10 years ago.

But especially while listening to “Under My Skin,” I was cringing too. Because a lot of the lyrics were really dark and angsty.

And I get it, teenagers sort of have that reputation, and I was a great sample representative of that stereotype, but I was simply relieved to realize that I no longer had those feelings anymore when I listened to the album today. I mean, I could definitely recognize what it felt like to feel like that. I could definitely remember why I could relate to what she was saying at some point in my life. But not anymore.

And sure, Avril definitely raised me. So, did Alanis. And Shakira. And certainly, Amy Lee from Evanescence, now that I think of it. These women raised me to grow up to become this really sassy, still angsty, dancey woman through their heartfelt lyrics and iconic tracks.

But now? I don’t have to listen to that music to feel like my feelings are being validated. And I think that’s maturity at work. Being able to listen to a song without feeling like someone stole my personal diary and is singing my feelings is a tremendous step in the right direction toward adulthood. (But that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t sink into a bubbling bath of pity every now and again by pressing play.)

The point is now I can start focusing on what I want to say instead of someone else singing it through my speakers. But the music I grew up on certainly gave me the courage to say it in the first place.

Do Adults Exist?

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I am a recent graduate with a full-time job. At this time in my life, this is the oldest I’ve ever been (obviously) and the first time that I’ve ever felt like an adult (not so obvious). But am I an adult? Truly? You tell me. I wear a blazer, I drink tea daily, I complain about bills, I come home exhausted. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

So, how did you know you weren’t a kid anymore? Did you realize it the first time you moved out (right before you moved back in)? Or did that familiar sense of dread and responsibility wash over you the first time you had to call and make your own doctor’s appointment? (Truly horrific.)

In many species in the animal kingdom, a child becomes an adult when it has reached sexual maturity. But in form, the adult is just a larger version of its younger self. Or, as Dylan Moran so poetically puts it: “You’re not really an adult at all. You’re just a tall child holding a beer, having a conversation you don’t understand.” And he’s absolutely right. On all parts. Except that height thing. I’ve always had a little bit of trouble with that.

So, really, I am a child of a height that is similar to a child’s actual height, holding a cider, (I don’t like beer) having a conversation that I not only do not understand, but I am not interested in.

How do I know this? How do I know I’m not an adult? Mostly because I have spent the last week absolutely ecstatic for the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2. I’ve listened to the score for 4 hours straight today, and I have teared up listening to it at least twice. Sure, all children’s movies are sort of designed with adults/parents in mind, but not enough to warrant me going to see the sequel at midnight, without a single child in tow. And if this were the only instance in which my immaturity has shined through like a lighthouse on a dark, dark sea, I might entertain the notion that I am working towards adulthood. I’m not there, but I’m getting there. I’m going out to sea.

But I’m not sure I want to keep going if the goal is adulthood. And you shouldn’t want to, either. I want to keep the shoreline in my sights.

I’m not here to pass judgement on you. I’m sure you enjoy your black coffee, and I’m sure you enjoy making your Excel spreadsheets. But when was the last time you truly felt something? Or were passionate about something? And I’m not saying that you need to like kid’s movies in order to be a kid. You simply have to acknowledge that you feel strongly about something. You simply need to put your own needs before others, just for an hour or two.

Don’t get me wrong; I have had positive experiences so far in “adulthood.” I get to go to bars, I get to call and order things from infomercials, and let’s not forget that I get to do what I love and get paid. But I’m not convinced that this is adulthood. I’m not even sure that true adults exist. I think people who are adults in every sense of the word aren’t really living, and therefore, they can’t exist.

The truth is, if you keep one foot in childhood, if you keep your sense of curiosity intact, if you keep your passions present in your life, you won’t really grow up. Not in the Peter Pan or Michael Jackson sense of the expression, but in a sense that matters.