Saturday nights spent in with a book, a movie and my mom sometimes cause me to reevaluate my social priorities. This particular evening, I am cold and about to have my period and I cannot even fathom a social interaction, let alone leave my bed.
Yet, my isolation is alienating and anxiety-provoking. While I never asked anyone to go out, no one asked me. I feel alone in knowing that it is only my mom who sought my company while everyone heads out to the streets to get rowdy. I feel left behind and like a child, continually falling below the curve on what is hip and happening. I feel so decidedly uncool.
I think this phenomena is familiar to all of us: the feeling that we are either in, or we are out; that someday we might just be left behind. I frequently feel this way when my friends talk about music; exchanging what is new and interesting like a currency towards social standing. It’s an advantage to know a band someone else doesn’t, and if you’re only learning about something on Pitchfork now, you are approximately 3-9 months behind the game.
I feel self-conscious about my opinion on what Animal Collective albums I like, I feel silly that I cannot without hesitation recount Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” verse, and I hope I die being the only one who knows how much 92.9 I actually listen to. Worst of all, I haven’t even nailed down what music from the ‘90s I actually like versus what music from the ‘90s I like ironically. So when my friends got to a show I didn’t know about, I feel like the little sister left at home and forgotten — not so much as a nuisance, but not a priority, with taste a half step behind.
These insecurities are embarrassing and hidden. I could never tell my friends that I feel like the odd one out — mostly because such a confession would reveal how delusional I really am. If I am honest with myself, my friends don’t really care what I like and they do not really give a damn about how cool I am. Nobody is measuring me up against a yardstick ready to ban me from some club I should have found out about by now. It’s a self-imposed prison of cool. I am trapped by what I perceive as truth; still stuck with elementary school fears caused by mean girls and eight year olds’ hunger for drama.
And what I feel the worst about? I’ve let music not be about music. I love music for all sorts of reasons: I love it when I feel music in my legs and I can’t help but jump and twirl. I love it when I feel music in my chest, listening to my friend’s self-produced music, his compositions so powerful and so compelling. I love it when I hear music with my friends, the concerts I’ve been to where I’ve laughed and danced and been defended from belligerent drunk women. I love the memories of mix CDs I’ve worn out listening to, being excited about my friends’ music, I love learning from wonderful people who love this silly and diverse thing we call music, just as much as I do. When I cried listening to Hospice by The Antlers, or when I had the privilege of seeing Sufjan Stevens in concert. I didn’t feel enriched as a person because these experiences made me cooler, I felt enriched because I was moved by the power of music.
It is easy to think about the ways that we are less than. Right now, it’s a Saturday night and I’m with my mom after just finishing my book. I am alone and yes, there are people hanging out without me. But I am allowing myself to feel grateful and to feel humble. I’ve been given such a wonderful lot of people who I can learn from. And I hope those of you reading this will join me in discovering new music and in discovering forgotten music. Till the next time, keep calm and rock on, and listen to some of my current favorites listed below.
- James Blake’s “Measurements”
- D’Angelo’s “How Does It Feel” (which honestly, should be the soundtrack for 90% of one’s sexual experiences)
- Bikini Kill’s “Riot Girl”
- Fred P. AKA Black Jazz Collective’s “PM”
- Flying Lotus’s cover of “Fall in Love” (the original was produced by inimitable J. Dilla)
Eleanor grew up in Tucson, AZ. She loves the desert and her friends. Her current apartment is less than 200 square feet that she makes less lonely with poems and pictures of her parents. You can occasionally find her ranting about war and other bullshit she doesn’t like. Her bottles of choice are Orangina and the tears of boys.