Have you ever laid awake at night thinking about that one embarrassing thing you said?
Maybe you’d laughed at something but the people you were with didn’t find it funny or perhaps you brought up a subject that no one had an interest in. This type of situation could have happened to you a day ago, a week ago, or even several years ago. Whatever the time span may be, these moments can come back to haunt you.
If you have experienced this, you’re not alone bestie- I have too! Believe it or not this is a shared experience and one that has not been discussed often in the media. However, American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo hasn’t let that stop her from spilling her guts on how situations like this have had a negative impact on her in her new song, ‘Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl.’
The lyrics of this song dive deep into themes of loneliness, lack of self-understanding, and much darker themes such as self-loathing and deep isolation. The girl represented in this song is one who is searching for both self-acceptance and acceptance by her peers, but simultaneously struggling socially.
All of this which Olivia Rodrigo expresses in the lyrics, “I broke a glass / I tripped and fell / Told secrets I shouldn’t tell / Stumbled over all my words / Made it weird, then made it worse.”
Another aspect of this song that really caught my attention was the “AH-ah’s,” that appear following the chorus. From my personal analysis, these repetitive notes seem to portray the exhaustion one may often experience when putting oneself into awkward situations in an attempt of not missing out or trying to make friends.
This song also references social anxiety and deep feelings of alienation, which plays an important role in setting up the theme of the song. This is established at the beginning of the song, when Olivia Rodrigo sings, “I’m on the outside of every inside joke.” I didn’t know it then, but hearing this song on repeat showed me how the feeling of being left out is a familiar one.
Later into the song, she follows up with the lyrics, “social-suicide.” By definition, this type of social suicide refers to doing something embarrassing that has a negative impact on your social status. For some people this can mean expressing parts of oneself that they are ashamed or embarrassed of.
It can mean following certain dreams that may be unconventional. Or if you’ve ever seen Mean Girls, it can mean joining the Mathletes.
What about the title of this song? Many fans find the title of this song confusing and hard to connect to. For Olivia Rodrigo, this title is connected to her personal experience growing up as a homeschool girl.
During an interview the young singer had with Phoebe Bridgers for Interview Magazine she stated, “I was homeschooled and all of this stuff happened in my career, but then I really boiled my problems down and I’m like, ‘Oh, they’re just 19-year-old, 20-year-old problems in a different environment.’“
The title plays on the theme that people who grow up homeschooled tend to struggle more socially. This may not be true for everyone, but there are many who do struggle with socializing for many reasons. Despite the title, Olivia Rodrigo follows up with this statement and adds, “If you speak honestly about any experience, then someone is going to find truth in it.”
Even if you don’t relate to being homeschooled, or struggle with social anxiety and fitting in, or even any aspects to Olivia’s personal experience growing up, many listeners and fans of hers know this song is a hit as the song debuted at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
I still remember on August 2nd when Olivia Rodrigo released the song names for GUTS. I immediately texted my sister about ‘ballad of a homeschooled girl.’ For me this song hits much harder as someone who grew up homeschooled. Making the transition from sitting at home every day studying alone to being fully immersed in classrooms with teachers and classmates was a huge change, a scary one. But it was also the best change.
However, I still struggled, and have struggled socially. Having a song produced by a singer who gets it and dedicated an entire song to this feeling made all the world to me. It’s safe to say that this song is both mine and my sister’s favorite, and will definitely be blasting in the car the next time we’re together.