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Sounds of Fifteen

by Felicia Kotas 7 months ago in playlist

The Musical Catharsis for an Emotional Adolescent

My best friend and I at 15. We were thrilled to be at our first concert.

Early high school is among the most emotionally and mentally difficult stages of a human life. Barely out of childhood, a young teenager finds themselves at an interim, an awkward space between youth and adulthood. They are suddenly burdened with responsibilities of nearing adulthood, while unable to enjoy the privileges. This time of sudden growth, both physical and mental, is stressful. The teen needs to find an outlet, and for many it is music, that makes these troubling years more endurable.

At fifteen, I began to have a sense of awareness, of myself and the world around me. Not only was my body bursting with hormones, but my mind was crowded with new ideas. Noticing inconsistencies in the adults around me, I started questioning what my parents told me, and began to think for myself. This had the dual effect of external conflict between myself and my parents, and the internal turmoil of defining my identity.

Laden with the terrible stressors of a high schooler's quest for independence, I was surly and sensitive. It was in music that I felt seen. The pain of the artists flooded their lyrics, and through their songs I was affirmed. I was thrilled to find new music that I could relate to, and my taste became varied, but some songs and artists stick out boldly in my memory.

These are my top five songs I'd reccommend to any emotional adolescent:

1. "I'm Not Okay ( I Promise)" by MCR

My Chemical Romance was my favorite band at 15. Gerard Way's piercing voice entered my ears and punctured my soul. He transformed my own pain into something beautiful. The song "I'm Not Okay," grasps the feelings of invisibility and emotional neglect many teenagers face. I have seven siblings, and growing up, I often felt overlooked. My parents never discussed feelings, and often my emotions were too big for me to handle on my own. I recall the buzzing triumph that arose from my lungs as I screamed along with Gerard, "Trust me, I'm okay. I'M NOT OKAY." It was electrifying, blaring the words that gave voice to my heart's aching.

2. "It's Not Me It's You" by Skillet

This song was vindication. I had a falling out with one of my closest friends in high school. She was a well-behaved daughter and diligent student. I had a reputation of being rebellious and stubborn. To the world, it appeared that our fighting was my fault. I was honest and unapologetic, so it always felt like people assigned me the role as villain. I was enraged because I felt like my side of the story was never fully represented. She was a martyr and that's what she wanted. My blood boiled knowing she thought she did no wrong. I turned on this song after each development of our disagreement. "You tried to make me think , That the blame was all on me, With the pain you put me through , And now I know that , It's not me, it's you, it's not me, it's you" I'd sigh in relief as I listened to these words, as though the injustice was presented. It was small and petty, but this song was my victory over her.

3. "Stressed Out" by Twenty-One Pilots

After hearing this hit song, I became an avid Twenty-one Pilots fan. I think the reason this song was such a success was because it was both catchy and insightful. The lyrics offer the listener a nostalgic dreamland. They are made to recollect the joy of childhood games and the comfort of their mother's arms. All the while, calling out bitterly against the unfairness that growing up is. A perfect mixture of sentimentality and angst, "Stressed Out" resonated excellently with my teenage soul. As soon as I was aware that I had left my childhood, out of reach and impossibly behind me, I felt a deep sorrow for its passing away from me. I recognized that I was indeed "stressed out," I had to learn to be an adult in a few years, and the certainty of this dark fate taunted me.

4. "I Hate Everything About You" by Three Days Grace

The song for the epitome of angst. This was my dedication to my ninth-grade crush. Ricky was charming and fun-loving. He had magical dark brown eyes and black curls that frame his devilish face. He had charisma, and never really hung around the guys, he was excellent at perusing the teenage girl climate. He was amazingly popular and I was fortunate enough to become his friend, but I was shy and had braces and big nose. It was natural that he would never see me that way. I started to hate him because he enjoyed flirting with girls a few years younger than himself, including me, with he sole intent of having them fall for him. It was when he began to humiliate me that I realized he was no good, yet my girlish heart pined after him in spite of this. "Only when I stop to think about it , I hate everything about you , Why do I love you?" It took many nights of anguish with repeats of this song to channel my desire for him out of my heart. It proved successful, so take "I Hate Everything About You" as a wonderful remedy for unwanted love-sickness.

5. "King for a Day" by Pierce the Veil

I thank Pierce the Veil for this masterpiece that I addressed to the most nefarious enemy of my teenage spirit, my parents. I was raised in an exceedingly conservative and traditionalist household. My parents had strict rules and expectations for how I should act and what my future should look like. They wanted me to go to a well accredited university and earn a degree in nursing. After this I was to be married off, have six children's and completely forget my degree. This future was abhorrent to me. I was a dancer, I adored music and the arts. I wanted to live in accordance with my soul and not who my parents wanted me to be. "King for a Day" purified my bitterness against them. "You told me think about it, well I did , Now I don't wanna feel a thing anymore , I'm tired of begging for the things that I want" I felt small and not taken seriously by my parents. My dreams of pursuing the arts were deemed childish and irresponsible. Pierce the Veil allowed me to give voice to my anger and re-ignite my passion. I felt like I had an ally and that my destiny was not determined by those that bore me.

Closing Thoughts:

My teenage experience was relatively normal. I felt singular in my struggles for identify and understanding, but I believe this to be a universal part of growing up. Although I don't listen to these songs regularly anymore, I can say that they have affected my perspective on the world. They shaped me as an adolescent, by giving me strength when I felt abandoned and insight when I felt lost. Music is a limitless medium that because of its diversity allows a sanctuary for people of all ages and walks of life. In song, abstractions become concrete and despair finds solace. As an adult, I find I am equally as dependent on music as I was at fifteen. The genre has shifted as well as the reason for listening, but the all absolving effect of music remains the same.


Felicia Kotas

I am a young mother and student pursuing a BA degree in English. Although I am first and foremost an avid reader, I take delight in writing. Both the process and the product give me joy and confidence.

instagram: felicianne_

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