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Plato once said, “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” This quote reverberates throughout every aspect of my life. I resort to music for solace, pleasure, and a lot of the time, a way to express myself. Music also helps me relate to those around me. Ultimately, music has become my haven of sorts, where I can turn to at any time to escape from the world. Music helps to tell my life story, and without it I most definitely would not be the person I am today.


My freshman year was the first time that I knowingly turned to music. I entered high school as a scared and timid freshman. I knew no one in any of my classes, and was afraid to branch out to all of these new people. I spent a lot of time at home and ended up searching for new music to listen to. It was at this time that I came across a band by the name of Animal Collective. “It’s not my words that you should follow, but your insides,” sings the lead vocalist in one of my favorite songs. At first, the song confused me, especially this line. Then, as the year progressed and I listened to it more, the line made more and more sense. The lead singer was telling me to follow my insides by trusting my intuition and having faith in my decisions. I started to wholeheartedly believe that I was doing the right thing by meeting new people and was able to grow into trusting myself more. I knew all along that I had to be more open, but my music inspired me to actually go out and make new friends. Branching out and making new friends was not easy, but Animal Collective’s advice helped me to follow my intuition, which made life at school so much better.


When sophomore year came around, I was continuing to find new music that I could relate to just as I continued to grow into an individual. I had found a group of friends that I enjoyed being around, which was good, but I was struggling in school. I once again turned to my music. The winter of my sophomore year, I discovered a band called Beirut. One of their songs inspired me to “imagine a careless life, a scenic world” of sorts. This gave me a more optimistic view and I realized that, even though I try my hardest at all times, I may not be the best and that is how life is; I still have to try to be the best version of myself that I can be. I entered the end of my school year and my summer with a more positive outlook and a better attitude. Thanks to my music, I had changed yet another aspect of my life.


My junior year, I found more music that I could rely on and relate to. I came across a one-of-a-kind band named Of Montreal. The band’s sound was unlike anything that I had ever heard. The lead singer, Kevin Barnes, has said time and time again how he is not scared to be his own individual self. As a junior, this was all that I needed to hear and so much more. In the song “Disconnect the Dots,” Barnes sings, “Come disconnect the dots with me, poppet.” I interpret this line as Barnes inviting his friend to break down all the barriers that the world has set up for them and just to live as their true selves. This song reminded me of my freshman year, when I was scared to make new friends, but it also showed me something new—that I shouldn’t be afraid of being myself, no matter what others or the rest of the world says. Until my junior year, I was on both the cross country and volleyball teams. At the start of junior year, I wanted to be a part of the teams, but as time went on, I discovered sports no longer provided me with the excitement I enjoyed. I wanted to join other clubs at school but was hesitant because none of my friends were in them and I was worried that people would judge me. Basically, I was forgetting that I actually wanted to be in these clubs. Of Montreal was suggesting that I disconnect the dots, reinforcing the idea that I had to be myself, which is exactly what I did. I joined Harlequins, my school’s theatre club, and Phantasm, my school’s literary and arts magazine, in the fall of my junior year. For the first time in high school, I felt as though I was being my true self. Since I was comfortable with myself, I was no longer afraid to explore. Of Montreal’s unique sound always inspires me to be my authentic self.


I ended junior year happy with my decisions, and excited to be a senior. The summer leading up to senior year, I did a lot of traveling, and on these trips, I turned to my music. This time was different though; I started listening to someone whose music and stage presence I had previously abhorred, Lady Gaga. I watched an interview with her, hoping to get a few laughs at her absurdity. However, my views on her changed as I watched the video. Like Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal, Lady Gaga spoke of how she is not afraid of expressing who she truly is. I started appreciating her differences and unique style and realized that she was only doing what I had done the year before: trying to find my authentic self. By listening to Lady Gaga’s music, I became more accepting of others. I never thought that I would see the day that I would be a Lady Gaga fan, but it happened, and for that I am grateful. She reinforced one of the most valuable lessons I have learned to date: everyone deserves respect. Although none of her songs have specific lyrics that changed me, as a person, she did. Her bold self-expression and open-minded attitude taught me better than anyone to be more accepting of individualism.


My music helps to define me, but that is not all that it does for me. It plays a vital role in my self-discovery and that is something that I never want to change. The type of music that I listen to is constantly changing. There is always something happening in my life that my music helps me to adjust to. When listening closely, there’s always that little something telling me that I can be a better version of myself. I constantly strive to be the best person I can be, and my music will always serve as my motivation for improvement.





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