Sometimes, certain music can elevate you out of a self-deprecating rut.
Are there ever times when everything just seems too much? When life gets on top of you and you struggle to reason with yourself? In these times, what is it that brings you back to the present moment, allowing yourself to break away from the panic?
For me, the answer is music. Whether that means singing along to Beyoncé’s Homecoming album or the entire soundtrack of the Mamma Mia musical, or simply shutting out the world to ballads by Lewis Capaldi or Sam Smith, the music I listen to holds an immense power and ability to transform my mood.
One group that holds a particular significance to me is the South Korean group BTS. Since first discovering their music two years ago, I have immersed myself into their world. With over 100 songs to listen to, the themes and concepts BTS explore have caused their music to be appreciated on a global scale. Many of their songs incite discussions of mental health, as members openly reference their own struggles with illnesses like depression and anxiety. Their recent album series, entitled Love Yourself, promotes a message that it is not possible to love others if you do not love yourself, a concept that I have personally struggled with.
Envision this. It is 12:05pm. Exactly five minutes after the deadline for my psychology essay. The past half hour has been a frantic rush to proof-read before hastily submitting my final document with minutes to spare. Suddenly, an intense feeling of discomfort begins to overwhelm me. It is almost like I can feel a darkness moving through my body, beginning in my chest and flowing out to fill every tiny cell. My chest tightens and I struggle to breathe. Tears begin flowing uncontrollably from my eyes. “Why am I crying? Why am I panicking?” While I have successfully managed to submit an essay, and normally this would be a relief, something snaps inside of me and suddenly all I can see are the mistakes. I go into the bathroom, tears in my eyes, close the door and slowly crouch down to the floor. All I can feel is an overpowering sense of guilt and despair. “Why? Why did I leave it so close to the deadline? Why did I make mistakes? Why am I always like this? Why can’t I just be organised and disciplined? Why do I have to be such a mess? Why do I disappoint everyone? Why do I disappoint myself?”
I reach for my phone, put in my headphones and go to Spotify. I press play, and a BTS song filters into my eardrums. The first upbeat notes of IDOL start. Though far from matching the current atmosphere, I continue listening in a bid to lighten my mood and re-energise myself. Only, the song ends and I am still curled up, red eyed and struggling to catch my breath. The next song to come on is Answer: Love Myself. The song starts slowly and, as is evident from the title, encourages a message of loving yourself. It may sound cliché but by closing my eyes, listening to the words “You’ve shown me I have reasons I should love myself…I’m learning how to love myself” over and over again, slowly the darkness and discomfort I feel decreases and I start feeling more calm. The language barrier disappears, allowing only the sincerity in which BTS truly wish to promote a message of self-love and self-worth to resonate within me. I saw that I was able to break free from this panic and not allow the torments that arise in life to control my mentality.
Now, whenever I feel myself edging back into that dark shadow, I put in my headphones, close my eyes, and listen to their soft melodies reassuring me that I can and, more importantly, have come through this pain. It provides me with hope. It may have been their artistic music videos, lively songs and synchronised choreographies that initially drew me into the world of BTS, but it is the powerful influence their lyrics have on my life that makes me stay.