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My First Year of College as Told by Songs

So, apparently, I’m about done with my first year of college. It’s been transformative, to say the least. In high school, my entire life was consumed by running. My identity was bound by rings around the track; making space for any other interests took negotiation.

College has given me a new space to get to know myself on my terms. I’ve undergone a personal metamorphosis this year, and music has been a big part of that. So I figure it’s only fitting to tell my story through tunes.

Here’s my first year of college as told by songs.

September: Don’t Cry, 2020 by COIN

I was lucky that I had surgery in the middle of September, so most of my anxiety was channeled into “I hope I don’t die during surgery” and I couldn’t begin to worry about college until the pain meds wore off. But when they did, I was scared. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to leave home. I like my house. I like my family. And accepting change has never been my strong suit.

October: Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala

This song is off of an album called Lonerism, and, to be honest, that’s about how I felt during my first quarter of college. For some reason, I expected to be propelled into a new, super confident, super outgoing personality, as if my actual personality wasn’t good enough. I put too much pressure on myself, and it made me feel like I was moving backward.

November: Fake Tales of San Francisco by my boys, Arctic Monkeys

This was about the time I realized that your first year of college is basically just advanced high school. Classes are harder and you make your own choices, but almost no one is as mature as you expect. You try too hard to feel like a true college kid, and it just feels dishonest.

December: God’s Plan by Drake

The first part of December I was worried about finals (slightly) and The Last Jedi (mostly). But as soon as I got home and settled in over winter break, I wished I’d never left. I was comfortable again. I could shower barefoot, I could escape to my room to read a book, and I can’t even tell you how comfortable my mattress is.

January: Fallout by Catfish and the Bottlemen

This song is the auditory manifestation of angst, and it represents how I rolled into 2018 with my middle fingers waving. I was lonely and embarrassingly angsty. I cried in my living room the weekend before coming back to school because I felt so alone, but it was like all of my feelings hit the ceiling fan. I had to do something, so I figured I’d join a club. Incidentally, Her Campus was the only one with a meeting date posted online.

February: Sacrifices by Big Sean

[Enter: Black History Month] This month came along and put me in my place. I realized I had no place to pissily complain about the frustrations in my life when I have ancestors who were enslaved. February is when I made the conscious decision to stop being an angry little troll. I started exploring interests in music and fashion, reading tons of old articles, going for walks while listening to podcasts, and watching a different episode of British Vogue’s Future of Fashion docuseries with Alexa Chung every time I went to the gym.

March: lose by Travis Scott

As winter quarter dragged on slower than Interstellar, I found myself tolerating school but enjoying the getting-to-know-myself-better part. Joining a club allowed me to be around people who gave me positive energy, and I was learning so much about band biographies, the fashion industry, and other things no one really cares about! Even so, I was slipping down the helter-skelter of anxiety. My thoughts, when not concerned with the newest thing I learned, became increasingly dominated by feelings of nervousness and images of all that I could lose.

April: Rocky’s Late Night by Albert Hammond Jr.

Even though this song is actually about Albert’s twin brother who died in the womb, the lyrics grasp the feelings of living with mental illness really well. This month I struggled more with my mental health than I have in years. That resulted in increased visits with my therapist and blood work that revealed I have a vitamin deficiency.

May: Everything You’ve Come to Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets

This song is perfect, but May was a twisted, miserable version of it. Luckily I started taking mega-dose vitamins that made me feel more like a human than a walking mental breakdown in the works, so I was able to deal with everything that went on. Life just kept happening. Plans kept changing. Things were happy and then they were sad, and feelings could not be trusted. On shaky ground, I had to find balance within myself. I feel like the instability of this month finally instilled in me sheer confidence.

June: New Person, Same Old Mistakes by Tame Impala

This song is the final track on an album, Currents, all about change. I feel like that’s where I am in my life right now. I arrived here so young, so idealistic. I still consider myself to be those things, but on top of that, I’ve grown into someone who dreams of making my ideas a reality. I’m a new, confident person with a sense of self, but you can always count on me to make the same old mistakes and to still be me.

Adrien is a third-year student majoring Community & Regional Development. She's very passionate about feminism, having conversations about culture, and maintaining a sense of humor through it all. In her free time, she can be found working out, eating sandwiches, and watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians to relax and unwind.
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