Ever since I discovered Spotify way back in the ancient year of 2016, I have made such a habit of making playlists that it has become a part of my identity. I will admit, my playlist making didn’t really kick off until I got that college student Spotify premium deal — no ads changes everything, I can never go back now— but once I started, I couldn’t stop. My friends will confirm listening to music is how I spend most of my time, and that the number of playlists I’ve made is rapidly climbing into the triple digits, with a new playlist popping up at least once a week and the full library accounting for all moods and occasions.
I have a few for all the usual themes (happiness, sadness, anger, love-sickness) and of course a playlist for the car and the shower. I also have a playlist for sitting at my desk with the windows open, one for music that reminds me of the circus, another for music that sounds like sour candy, one for learning how to skateboard on a tennis court, one or two based off of my daily Co-Star horoscopes and one dedicated to that mall montage scene from Stranger Things season 3 — among others. This way, no matter what I am doing or feeling, I have music ready for the moment. And if I don’t, then I immediately find some. I’ve found that listening to music has become one of the easiest ways for me to process my emotions and to keep myself centered.
These days, there are some feelings I have been avoiding, some upcoming events I do not feel ready for. And thus, there is a playlist I’ve avoided making because I do not want to have to group together a bunch of songs that say “Goodbye” or “The End.”
My last year of college is rapidly coming to a close, which, of course, feels like a joke because pandemic life has made the past year a complete blur. How could I be graduating when I am still accidentally writing “2020” on all of my assignments? How could I be graduating when I haven’t been inside some of my favorite school buildings for over a year? How has time been passing so quickly when every single day has been the same? It just doesn’t feel possible.
And yet, here I am. The undeniable fact is that soon I will no longer be a student; I will be a graduate. An alumnus! And unless I fail my classes this semester (not really an option I’m fond of either), there is nothing I can do to stop that from happening.
So, since I can’t stop the future from coming, the least I can do is make a playlist and share it here. That way, anyone else feeling as topsy turvy as I am might find some tunes to help recenter, too.
- Treehouse – James Arthur feat. SHOTTY HORROH and Ty Dolla $ign
What with my general nerves about what comes next in life, this song felt like the best place to start. It radiates comfort as the kids say. The lyrics function as a reminder that we all freak out and need a break from the world sometimes, and it’s alright to not be okay all the time. It’s soothing and groovy all at once and always makes me feel better when I’m stressing.
- That Green Gentleman – Panic! at the Disco
The whole song is warm and fun, but two lyrics really make it stick out for me. The first being things are shaping up to be pretty odd, and the second being things have changed for me, and that’s okay. If anything sums up graduating and entering into The Future in a time like this, it’s the idea that everything is so strange, that everything is changing and that as kooky as that might be, it’s also all going to be okay.
- This Is the Day – The The
An oldie, but a goodie. This song came out in the 80s, entered my radar from a movie filmed in the 90s and I listen to it constantly in my 20s. To me, it’s a poppy declaration that you can cherish your memories and see how much you’ve grown, but you can’t always wait for the world to put things into motion for you. Your life can change in a day, if you want it to. What better day than graduation to start believing in that?
- The One Moment – OK Go
Similar vibes to “This Is the Day,” “The One Moment” is a super upbeat celebration that everything is ending, and this is the one moment that matters. The opening lyrics posit that there’s nothing more lovely…than the certainty that all of this will end. To be honest, after three straight semesters of isolated online schooling, now knowing that vaccines are rolling out and that my diploma will soon be in my hands, I can’t say I disagree. There’s nothing more lovely.
- Future Me – Mega
Finally, “Future Me” to tie it all together. This song features some gentle acoustic guitar and violins, and of course the beyond smooth and comforting voice of Mega. It is a letter to the self, about how hard it has been to get to where we are, but that someday it will be worth it. And that when we get to where we need to be, we should never forget what it took to get us there. I certainly don’t know where the future me will end up, as I have a completely blank slate for the first time in my life, but I know I’ll get there. This song carries that same sentiment and hope.
In making this playlist and starting to accept the inevitability of what’s coming up, I’d love to say that I feel completely relaxed and relieved. That my anxieties have been assuaged, and that I look at the cap and gown sitting in my room only with joyful anticipation and not with a little bit of nausea— but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I will say that putting these songs together, and contemplating why they felt right for this moment helped a lot to understand how I was feeling. To me at least, that’s the first step to embracing the topsy turvy-ness of it all, and to realizing that “The End” isn’t really the end at all. Just the start of a new chapter.