The Soundtrack of My Year
The idea that my past year had a soundtrack following along in the background seems like a somewhat idyllic notion. But I promise, my life is far less glamorous than the picture-perfect movie scene that this idea brings to mind. Hopefully, this playlist can capture my entire experience of 2018; the triumphs and the losses, the ebbs and the flows, the revelations and the regrets, the questions and the lessons.
With another year come and gone, here I am, blasting this soundtrack of familiar tunes and dancing my way in to 2019… Always slightly off-beat, trying to sing along to lyrics that I only sort of know, and definitely having a damn good time of it. I hope that your year-to-come is ultimately entertaining and enjoyable, regardless of whether or not it’s well-choreographed.
And here’s a little story about each of these songs, hopefully explaining why they collectively wove the fabric of my past year:
Something that I’ve been consciously working on for a while now is re-defining success and happiness on my own terms. I’ve come to realize that authentic personal fulfillment first requires a certain willingness to dismiss the intense amount of societal pressure that currently exists around living up to established expectations of intelligence, wealth, appearance, personality, and more. This continues to be extremely difficult for me, and I’m not there yet, but I’m whole-heartedly committed to the process.
I heard this song for the first time while carpooling at 6:00am on a Saturday morning to a UVic Outdoors Club snowshoe trip up the side of a mountain. Having stayed up at a friend’s house party until 3:00am the night before, I was groggily nursing a travel mug of coffee (the only time I ever have or ever will drink coffee from Tim Hortons) and barely keeping it together.
When ‘Saturday Sun’ came on just as the sun broke over the horizon, I couldn’t get over how synchronized the moment was, and it completely turned my mood around. This song now epitomizes that feeling of excitement and anticipation that come along with getting up way too early to go on an adventure, and knowing that it’s going to be a day to remember.
As an Environmental Studies major and a self-proclaimed sideline student activist, I often find myself expending a lot of my time, energy, and mental capacity in the struggle for positive change in the world today.
While contemplating climate change and tackling the mainstream food system through initiatives like the Community Cabbage and Stop Starbucks UVic can certainly be empowering and exciting, activism is also an endeavor laden with self-doubt, frustration, confusion, complexity, and criticism.
This song is a shout-out to all of my inspiring friends, co-workers, and classmates who are actively working to contribute to a brighter, more sustainable future for us all. Thank you, the world needs you.
This song should be the anthem of Strathcona Park Lodge, the amazing off-grid mountain lodge where I had the pleasure of living and working for four months this past summer. Never before had I found myself surrounded by a community of so many ambitious, adventurous, empowered, physically-fit, and legitimately genuine people.
While I initially felt incredibly inadequate in comparison to my 80 incredible co-workers, being a part of this community truly challenged me to be the best possible version of myself; pushing my personal boundaries, pursuing ambitious outdoor adventures, and passionately devoting myself to my work.
Around the times of year when final exams are fast approaching as we helplessly await them, perpetually under-prepared and suffocating in stress-induced self-doubt, there’s a classic piece of cheeky advice that often circulates between my friends and I: “It will happen, just do the thing.”
This song serves as a reminder of that familiar feeling that I experience at the end of each university semester, once the final multiple-choice bubble has been filled and Course Spaces has officially gone off-line. Staring back in awe at the whirlwind four-odd months that just passed, I often wonder what just happened, where the time went, and whether I did anything right, but am also just overcome with a simple, satisfying feeling of acceptance.
This year, for the first time ever, I think I can honestly say that my love life became somewhat interesting (relatively speaking). While I’m fully aware that I’m just way too naïve for my own good, this song totally resonates with my feeling of being so deeply in-love with someone that I legitimately want to be with them forever.
Recently, I admittedly travelled for four hours on a Monday evening and hopped on a late-night ferry so that we could be together for less than 12 hours before I had to be back for work the next morning. And I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that according to the usage tracker on my cell phone, we talked to each other for a solid 3,765 minutes last month. So, here’s to the hopeless optimism and uncontrollable excitement that comes along with young love.
Growing up, I remember driving in the car late at night with my older brother, windows rolled down, music cranked, both of us singing along to old albums by the Arkells. After he moved away from home when I was 15, a strange sort of tension and disconnect began to form between us.
This year, for the first time in a long time, I started to feel like we understand each other again, and have the ability to be good friends despite living far apart and leading drastically different lives. When we do see each other every once in a while, we still connect over our love of mediocre Ontario rock music.
At some point a few months ago, one of my roommates’ boyfriends was poking fun at how stressed and busy we always make ourselves, and he made the off-handed comment that “life is really just procrastinating on dying.” While I’m not sure I completely agree with his advice, it did make me laugh, and reminded me to not take life too seriously, and to savor the slow moments. I’m still working on finding balance, trying not to over-commit myself, and learning what to prioritize, but with this song, The Boom Booms at least persuade me to just chill out a little.
Admittedly, I have a hard time listening to this song without freezing up and becoming way too emotional to be a productive human. It became the background music for a particularly low-point in my year, and still prods the sore spot of my ongoing struggle to find a sense of authentic belonging.
While I’m endlessly grateful to have a family who believes in me, friends and roommates who I can confide in, and a partner who I deeply connect with, I often feel incredibly lost in the world and terrified of being alone. I’ve started to come to terms with these feelings as a somewhat inevitable by-product of recently moving far away from home and trying to forge a new life for myself with people who I’ve only just met, but it’s something that I’m still working on.
This song brings to mind two very different memories from this past year.
#1 – I saw The War on Drugs live in Vancouver, and it was a wicked show in which the band never spoke to or acknowledged the audience throughout the entire performance, then smashed an electric guitar and promptly walked off stage at the finale. It was a very weird and very wonderful musical experience.
#2 – The mild intensity of this song, combined with the applicable lyrics, totally reminds me of the stupid number of all-nighters that I pulled off to finish course assignments this year. Interestingly, I was able to get myself to a state of mind where I chose not to problematize the decision to stay up all night when I needed to get something done, and then would feel pleasantly relaxed by the realization that I’d just gained a ‘bonus’ 10 hours or so, which was usually more than enough time to do the thing without stressing about it. Disclaimer: This is not a good study strategy and I definitely don’t endorse it for others.
As long as I’ve known her, one of my roommates has been in a committed long-distance relationship. Consequently, we’ve had many late-night conversations about the strange emotions and uncomfortable circumstances that present themselves when you’re in love with someone who’s thousands of kilometers, multiple time zones, and a couple international boundaries away.
With this insight, I’d decided that a long-distance relationship would be incredibly unhealthy, difficult, and unenjoyable for me, so had once vowed to personally never commit myself to one. Until this summer, when I did, and it was about as awful as I had imagined.
After that, I vowed never to do it again. Until this fall, when I met someone else… So, here we are. Two long-distance relationships deep, still hating every second of it, but also starting to appreciate the intricate emotions and complicated type of connection that it offers. Thanks, John Mayer, for preaching the relatable woes of long-distance for me.
Straight up, this song is just joyful, catchy, and clever. It’s what we blast in our kitchen on sunny weekday mornings when everyone’s bustling about, the blenders and coffee grinders are simultaneously whirring, and there’s multiple people in line for the toaster.
To me, this song speaks to the reluctant acceptance that I’ve reached around the fact that I’m a hardcore introvert, no matter how much I like to pretend not to be. It validates my frequent choice to turn-down social opportunities in favor of needing to take care of myself and just do my own thing (which usually involves knitting, journaling, baking, late-night walks… yes, I’m a dork) .
While I sometimes still feel guilty and conflicted for craving this sort of alone-time in a world that promotes hyper-connectivity, I’m gradually realizing just how essential it is for my own well-being, and beginning to take pride in the self-awareness that it represents for me.