acceptance

Music Can Still Heal, Love Can Still Prevail

In yesterday’s blog post I talked about KROQ’s Weenie Roast & Fiesta, the concert I attended over the weekend. I talked about all of the different aspects of a concert or music festival and some tips on how to maximize your experience. Then, last night, I got word of the horrific attack in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 people and injured over 50. I had no words.

This morning, as I pored over a number of news articles and blog posts responding to the attack, I couldn’t help but tear up. I had just been a concert goer. I had just spent an evening with my own favorite artists, singing and dancing and being carefree. There was an eerie air above my head. I felt almost guilty.

Then, I remembered something.

At Weenie Roast on Saturday, in the 8 o’clock hour, Imagine Dragons was onstage, performing my favorite set of the day. After about their 3rd song Dan Reynolds, the lead singer, took a few moments to speak on hate. He mentioned a problem one of his young daughters was having at school with another student. She’d been pushed down and told her pigtails were stupid and came home crying. He was heartbroken and angry that she had experienced hate for the first time, and was solemn knowing she’d only experience more as her life went on. But then, he shifted gears. He looked out at the crowd and smiled. We were all quiet and flushed from the long, hot day, and he told us we were beautiful. That we were every color and size and shape and ethnicity. And we were all there, together, letting music heal us.

“Because that’s what music does,” he said, “music heals us. It saves us from ourselves and from the world. It brings us together.”

We all applauded, but not the kind that feels obligated or appropriate, the kind that happens naturally, because we understand, because we agreed. He then bowed his head and thanked us all for being there and encouraged us to take the love and acceptance we shared in the space of music and spread it out amongst the world.

This tragedy in Manchester is unfathomable. It has harmed the world and its people in more ways than one. But one thing it didn’t do, it couldn’t do; one thing that terrorism can never accomplish, is destroying our ability to heal. To love. To persevere.

So, as we walk slowly in the wake of such darkness, we must remember that we are all carrying light, and as we continue to let it shine, we are winning. As we continue to let ourselves heal and be healed, we are winning. And if continue to fight hate with love, we will win.

Stop Trying to Be Relatable

Have you ever been hanging out with a group of people you only kind of know and so you’re trying your best to come off as someone completely normal and confident and witty and friendly and successful in a completely casual way, then suddenly they start talking about something you know absolutely nothing about?

You listen, trying desperately to find a story or factoid in your brain that would be an appropriate contribution, but nothing comes. So you just sit, smiling and nodding, wishing you’d done more with your life so you could be a well-rounded, knowledge-in-all-things type of person.

As they continue—for much longer than they should on any topic, really, but especially on this particular one which you still know nothing about, making you regret every life choice that didn’t provide you with the most basic of knowledge on it—you briefly consider making something up. Something basic. Something untraceably false that will connect you to these people. But then you worry that your nerves will inadvertently add hyperbole to your statement, making it obvious that it is a lie, completely shooting a hole in your credibility as a conversationalist and overall human being. So ultimately you decide to stay quiet, and though it provokes a few wary glances, you accept them, for it has become clear that you simply cannot relate.

In the world of social media, “relatability” has become a key element in our admiration of others. We love the celebrities that share pictures of themselves sans makeup and in sweatpants, admittedly lazing it up on a Saturday afternoon. We love moms that post horror stories about their children and young adults posting picture after picture of their failed attempts at homemade meals. They post these moments and we repost them, delighted at their humanness, and caption them with things like, “this is totally me.”

When we find these shared peculiarities, especially with those we look up to in the media, we are given a sense of kinship and belonging. Suddenly the things about us we thought were weird are the very qualities that connect us to someone we admire. And as we see those personalities being praised and adored for their candor and uniqueness, we start to believe that we too have that same chance. So we share. We share and we share and we share. We tag and we hashtag. Hoping to be liked. But at what point in this process do we stop striving for honesty and start searching for relatability? When do our interests and our words start shifting away from what we believe and towards what we think others will enjoy?

This is where it seems that being “relatable” becomes less of a happy coincidence and more of a believed standard for acceptance.

But isn’t it the raw honesty of a confession that makes a connection that much more surprising and meaningful? Isn’t it the shock value that makes it fun?

Why pretend that you like decorative DIY pots when you’d rather put flowers in old Arrowhead water bottles?

Why pretend that you know anything about classic movies when you’d rather discuss the newest episode of The Bachelorette?

Why pretend you’re completely put together when you’re perfectly okay with being a hot mess (or vice versa!)?

Why pretend you like organic vegetables when you legitimately CANNOT taste the difference and you’d rather save $40 and buy the non-organic ones?

No matter who you are or what your weird looks like, the world would be lucky to get acquainted. And chances are, the moment you introduce yourself you’d find someone out there saying, “OH MY GOSH ME TOO!”

So stop trying to be relatable, be you and it will come naturally.

Youth