Music(?) to My Ears by Lizzy Huang

It’s that time of year where exams are over, big projects are mainly over, grades are pretty much set, and assignments and deadlines are slowly rolling off into the abyss. It feels like summer should already be here, and we definitely shouldn’t be in school. It feels like I have nothing to do, yet so much to do at the same time. It feels like I have to think about so much future stuff that I don’t want to be thinking about. It feels like I have to be proactive, pushy, and panicking for something, but I’m not…?

I was so used to being in this academic grind. This entire year felt like a jolting snap back to reality in comparison to my sophomore fever dream year. I was constantly stressed, constantly busy, constantly worrying and thinking about the next thing, and I truly never had a moment to sit down and internalize.

And to be honest, it showed. And I mean, it SHOWS.

Now, I’m confused. My brain is confused. My body, even, is confused, because I’m weirdly tired all the time.

But most of all, I don’t know how to deal with time anymore. I sincerely don’t know what I’m supposed to do, even though I objectively do know what I’m supposed to do. And at the same time that it feels like there’s so much time, I also frustratingly feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what I want to.

Albeit, while the above hopefully sounds incredibly soul-sucking and painful as it’s surely written to sound, the single most frustrating part of this entire process that I have suffered through has been….


I am and have always been one to embrace music, one to use it to hug me, to comfort me, to be hype with me, to cry with me, to punch the wall with me (not literally, I’m not Andy), and one to really just be. Music has always been an extension of myself, and my music taste has always been so diverse that I’ve always been able to reliably lean on it whenever I need. And with this hectic year, with the constantly shifting attention and the constant state of stress and the constant emotions, I always somehow knew exactly what type of music I wanted to listen to for exactly which mood I was in at exactly the right time. I had a playlist for stressful cramming AP sessions, I had different music for different drives, I had music for chill homework days, I had music for 1:00 a.m. House of the Spirits essay-writing days, I had music for dancing and music for crying, I had everything. And I mean, it was SPOT ON. I can’t explain the accuracy, I can’t explain the details, but just know that my music game was absolutely balling this year.

Well, up until now.

For some odd, inexplainable reason, I no longer possess that same superpower I had just a couple days ago. My brain simply won’t let me decide what I want to feel, and as a result, I CAN’T EVER SEEM TO PICK THE PERFECT MUSIC TO LISTEN TO. And it’s so unbelievably frustrating that no one could even imagine.

For example, today I was sitting in the Prius and setting up Bluetooth to get ready to play a song or a piece. I clicked on my chillaxy waxy playlist – a playlist originally created to hold my hand through AP studying sessions that soon turned into just an iconic mood for driving – thinking that was what I wanted. The second the song started playing, I sucked air through my teeth and immediately started cringing, edging on the line of pure disgust. I hadn’t even started driving at that point, and I was scared. Scared that I either 1) don’t know myself at all (very possible, to be honest), or 2) I had lost interest in that genre of music! I blinked a couple of times and decided to try again. This time, I went with my chamby wamby playlist, a playlist of classical chamber pieces which I often listen to in the car.

Once again, I cringed. Only this time, it was far worse. I felt myself starting to genuinely dislike the piece I was listening to, and I was disappointed in myself. How, and why, could this happen to me?!

Imagine this: shortly after, I was sitting there at the wheel of the Prius, parked impatiently as it waited for me, basically internally crying, to frantically scroll through all my playlists desperately looking for some straw to latch onto, some saving grace that would solve this problem I didn’t know I could even have. I oscillated between my old jammies, my oldER jammies (both playlists of which are self-explanatory – roughly 70-90s and 40-60s bops respectively), my violin jammies, my piano jammies, pajamy jammies, celly welly, I even hit on melly welly at one point (but I wasn’t sad enough for that one for sure), motivation (I didn’t need any of that so that went out the window quickly), and even reggaes for days which my friend and I made as a joke (if I could insert the crying emoji here, I would – my pain was real). I went through playlists that my friends had made as memories from music camp and other events, but I felt nothing. In fact, with each click of the button, with each song that had started to play with just even a few seconds, I felt disgusted.

I sincerely (as I’ve never been so stoic or sincere about anything else in my life) regret to inform you that on this day, Sunday, May 22nd 2022, I drove – for the first time in my entire career as a child, a student, a daughter, and a person – without. Music.

Instead, I was accompanied by crickets and intrusive thoughts.



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