Music and Me

By Alejandra, Listener from the USA
For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with music.

I was in awe at the stories that songwriters could tell through rhyme and rhythm, and amazed at the feeling of nostalgia that music produced despite my young age. Whether it was during the daily dance parties after school, or during my Percy Jackson reading sessions in my makeshift book nook, I was constantly listening to music.

But just like any relationship, music and I have had many experiences of which strengthened our bond.

One of the first of these experiences dates back to the time when I discovered Hamilton in elementary school. After being enticed by the beautiful vocals of the Original Broadway Cast, and developing a deep connection with each character, the obvious question lingered in my head. How could someone give an audience a history lesson through such breathtaking choruses and rhymes unmatched by any other? A great example of this nearly impossible feat is the song “My Shot”. This song gives the audience their first glance at the relentlessness and determination of Alexander Hamilton (a trait that soon brings trouble to the founding father) and contains rhymes that satisfy a part of your brain you never knew existed.

However, my admiration for the musical was not just fueled by the fascinating melodies and insane vocals of the cast. As a young Latina in the United States, I found it even more difficult than those my age to relate to the celebrities of Hollywood and those on my TV screen. The most popular singers of the 2010s included Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift - all white people who looked nothing like me. It was inspiring to see kids at my school listen and sing along to the voice of Daveed Diggs and Jasmine Cephas-Jones. Not to mention the words I adored so much were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the child of Hispanic immigrants - just like me!

Although music had a large effect on my upbringing and character, and was one of my favorite pastimes, for a long time it was simply that. A pastime.

Everyone grows up. It's inevitable. For some, their teenage years are not as bad as others. For many, being a teen comes with loss, confusion, and a LOT of stress. I experienced the latter. At the beginning of eighth grade, I had just been ditched by my friend group of a couple of years. Instead of being upset, I was relieved.

Those who my friend group consisted of were toxic, and my introversion and looks were constantly ridiculed. Although free from their toxicity, I was now alone. Not only was I alone, but questions about my future were now being asked at school. We were going to start high school, and according to my teachers and parents, I had to have an idea of what I wanted to do after high school. I had and still have no idea. Like it does with many, this situation caused stress. Were my grades good enough to get into a good school? Was I sure of my passions and interests? Do I have to grow up? All of this insecurity soon took a turn, and I started to become very stressed all the time.

As stated before, I have always listened to music. But this was different. I would look forward to coming home from school and just listening to music while laying on my bed, eyes closed. My earbuds and these listening sessions became a necessity, and music became an escape for the stress I was experiencing. I started to make playlists for times that I was anxious. Many of the songs were slow and calming, ones which I didn't even realize made me feel better. Songs like “From the Dining Table” by Harry Styles and “Godspeed” by Frank Ocean made my worries melt away for a couple of minutes.

To this day, I admire songwriters and musical artists for their beautiful art that does so much for so many.

Music, thank you for being there at my best… and my worst, and thank you for providing a way for me to cope with the chaos of the real world. I owe some of who I am to you, and I could never be more grateful. Here’s to an eternity of bops and jams.