“I hope you know that you’ve given me the courage to change. I hope you know that who you are is who you choose to be, and that whispers behind your back don’t define you. You are the only one who gets to decide what you will be remembered for.” -Taylor Swift, foreword to 1989
It’s a great day for me. I got something I’ve wanted for a long time, and while it’s nothing exceptionally expensive or crazy, my parents got me a record player for Christmas. Since I’m working so much this holiday season as I prepare for a flight and vacation to Texas to see Killer, I made the executive decision that we would have Christmas early when we actually had time to spend in each other’s company. I opened the record player, and it didn’t really click at first. I plugged the thing in, and I put in one of the records I received with it…and that’s when it hit me. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. This overarching sense of calm and peace washed over me. I’m sure my mom got a photo of the smile on my face. I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear it’s her favorite photo of me in years.
If playing some vinyl in a record player was so important to me, then why did I never strike up the nerve to purchase it for myself? Honestly, I think part of me couldn’t buy it. Part of me felt like that if I was buying a record player for myself, I was deeming my life at a good place and that everything was okay. Since I’ve learned far too well that I can’t make those calls anymore, I wouldn’t buy it for myself. I think I’ve been at conflict with myself for a such a long time, part of me was scared to say “everything is okay, see?” I needed that external validation that my life was doing okay. Yes, I’ve got parents that care about me. Yes, I’ve got a job. Yes, I’ve got an incredible group of friends and Killer girlfriend. BUT I didn’t want to just say everything was fine and dandy. Part of me refused to label life like that.
I had several theories as to why the record player made me silently cry happy tears. Part of it is back to simpler time before everything of the last few years. Those golden months after I graduated college in which the plan I had (which is still a bullshit plan, regardless) was going to be my life for a few years and get me on the right path. Part of it was daydreams I’ve had about listening to records with Killer and just soaking it all up. Part of it is just the certain song playing was randomly picked, because I just put the stylus down and let it go. In the end, it helped refresh me in a stretch of work that spans seven days and around eighty hours of actual work. It refocused me.
Broneal and I both suffer from a disease that has symptoms like lack of motivation and a clear apprehension from being in one place too long. I say that because the two of us have had to keep the other in check for years when it comes to staying focused on the task at hand. I have to say, I haven’t been able to with work lately. It’s been dragging me down some, and I have been moving forward as best I can. The record player allowed me to escape a little bit, and I know it will help with my sanity. I’m hearing these gentle whispers from other places to work (potentially) and trying to please every friend I have. I needed this. But in a weird twisted way, after asking for independence for years, I was resolved to being reliant on someone else to, for lack of a better term, appraise my life and determine whether I deserved this luxury that absolute magic for my soul.
So what does that lovely Taylor Swift quote have to do with it? Yes, I do enjoy her music quite a bit, for from a literary standpoint, I reading what other people write about their lives. I know she has help writing her songs from time to time, but much of her music isn’t much more than musical blog posts. I get a glimpse into someone’s life who’s only a month apart from me in age but in a far, far different place in life. My damn need for external validation, which is luckily dwindling as the months go by, has me continually evaluating who I am to the outside. I was reading through the assorted notes and lyrics of her new album when I spotted that foreword. This is the last paragraph, basically the last few sentences before her signature.
I really don’t know why I needed to see another person write that. Maybe I’m just as much at fault for looking to celebrities for some guidance to my life, but those lines spoke to me again. It helped reaffirm my choices over the past few years to move forward as I can with peace in myself and my choices. I know who I am. We all undertake some revisionist history when we look back at our lives, and I have to admit I’m just as guilty as the next guy. I can tell you I was one of the more popular people in high school, but I know that you could ask some people and they hated me for the reasons I WAS popular. I can tell you I was well-known in college, but that neglects that I was really quite alone for parts of time there due to my own choice. I can tell you that I had a lot of friends and was associated with many different kinds of people throughout my life, but that carefully forgets I had very few close friends. I spent my life trying to please everyone and be the glue…when all I wanted was to just fit in.
Far too often, I used to let the minority opinion rule my actions. It’s been a nice change of pace to not let that affect me (as much). It was awesome to see this decision reaffirmed by someone who lives with negative press all the time as a celebrity and has their dirty laundry aired regularly. I feel for her and emphasize because of this. It’s crazy what a song or letter can do, isn’t it?
Ah, anyway, I feel incredible. Just four more days until Christmas. I can’t wait, can you? Please just listen to the great song I posted (the one I teared up listening to the vinyl) and enjoy your Sunday. You guys rock, you know?