“Suddenly you’re 21 and you’re screaming along in the car to all the songs you listened to when you were sad in middle school and everything is different but everything is good.”
I’ve always thought there was something about the music you grow up to listening and for me, it was music in the 2000s. Tonight was one of those nights that I wanted something familiar. Plugging in my earphones, I played the High School Musical playlist on Spotify (admit it, you were once crazy about it too), my head in the clouds, while on my one hour bus ride home. And all these sentimental feelings suddenly washed over me in an overwhelming, nostalgic sensation, as memories scurried across my mind. Do you remember that song you used to listen to over and over in your teenage years? Or the one that you promised yourself would be your wedding song someday? How about the one you made your personal anthem? It wasn’t just the songs themselves that I loved, but the memories attached to them. Hilary Duff was the girl-next-door I wanted to be like. Crazily jumping and dancing on the bed for hours with my girlfriends until we were exhausted from screaming to her Wanted CD when it first came out was the highlight of my weekends in my elementary years. Then it was Gabriella Montez. I wanted to dress like her and have cheekbones like her. My sister and I would rehearse High School Musical songs during our long road trips with our parents as the audience, blasting the tunes and attempting to harmonize even when we didn’t know how to. How faithful my sister and I were in always trying to find the most up-to-date Disneymania CD in local libraries, memorizing the names of the hottest Disneychannel stars and spending days perfecting the “And you’re watching Disneychannel” line in between commercials because I promised myself I would make it on there someday. When the lights dimmed and couples began to slow dance to Mariah Carey’s Bye Bye during my middle school grad, I listened to the lyrics and felt the reality of eighth grade coming to an end. I yelled to Avril’s Girlfriend and The Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way for years with childhood friends, sang Jay Sean’s Down in the parking lot when my friends and I were too cool for Chinese school, listened to Hillsong’s ‘Til I See You when I cried myself to sleep, repeatedly replayed Regina Spektor’s The Call when I couldn’t swallow my emotions after the Narnia movies, fangirled to David Archuleta’s first CD while dreaming of someone singing those lyrics to me, and all of Against the Current’s songs when I partied in the kitchen by myself with my personal anthem (still) being Outsiders because “outside, we’re lonely but we are free.” I could continue on and on… Somehow, I remember all these details.
There’s something about songs that spark inspiration, memories, and feelings that relate to the present or are brought back from long ago. They can remind you of who you were or are during that time, of how you felt the the first time you listened to it. This depth of history and connection I felt as my HSM playlist kept playing was reminding me of who I was in the past – someone who dared to dream. Whether it was daydreaming about the guy I would marry, the person I would grow up to be, or the things I would do, I have always been a dreamer. But somehow along the way, I gave up on those dreams. They seemed too good to be true and too long to get to… So wanting to catch up with everyone else, I set lower standards for myself to achieve so I can at least say I’ve checked it off the list. But what about those big dreams I once had? Why have I agreed to settle for less? Is it the pressure of time or the pressure from people generally around me? What is with the hurry in life that I give up my dreams and trade them in for complacency. I want to be daring in my dreams because I trust not in my own ability, but God’s ability to accomplish them. I limit God when I dream small. He has grand plans for me and His timing is made perfect according to His purpose. I need more faith.
And now suddenly I’m 22 and miss singing to those 2000s songs while dreaming bold dreams, and everything is so different but it can be good. I’m learning to dream big again like my younger version would have told myself to not give up doing, and this time, I want it to be with Him.