The Soundtrack to my Life

Bella Martin, Editor-in-Chief

Music has always been an extremely important part of my life. I turn on music when I am upset, happy, anxious, stressed or excited. When I am bored, I find pleasure in creating playlists. At parties and with friends, I am often given the AUX and asked to create playlists for specific events. Music has always provided me with a sense of comfort and positivity that no other form of art has. As a result, I can relate certain songs to specific stages or moments of my life. Below are nine songs that have taught me important lessons and have reflected certain stages of my life to date. 

“Son of Man” from the Tarzan Soundtrack by Phil Collins

“Oh and all the things you dreamed of / The visions that you saw / Well, the time is drawing near now / It’s yours to claim it all”

As a little girl, I was obsessed with Disney movies. Tarzan quickly became one of my favorite movies for two reasons: I had a crush on the character and Phil Collins’ music. In the movie, “Son of Man” plays as Tarzan transitions from a young boy at the age of five into a man of the jungle at the age of 20. The basis of the song consists of Tarzan trying to fit in with his new family of gorillas as he grows up in the jungle. One of the most vivid scenes of this song is when Tarzan begins swinging from the branches of the trees like a monkey. In addition to the catchiness and energy of the song, the song followed Tarzan’s childhood and evolution. As a five-year-old girl watching Tarzan, “Son of Man” allowed me to put myself in Tarzan’s position and envision myself growing up. I remember that as I watched him grow from a little boy to a grown man, I thought about what my own life would become as I grew up. I tried to picture what I looked like: if I would have the same friends, if I achieved my hopes and dreams and what lessons I would have learned. “Son of Man” essentially reminds me of growing up and evolving into the person that I am today. 

“Little Things” by One Direction

“You’ll never love yourself half as much as I love you / And you’ll never treat yourself right darling, but I want you to / If I let you know, I’m here for you / Maybe you’ll love yourself like I love you” 

Growing up as a girl is not easy. Whether young girls compare the clothes they wear, the type of hair they have, the way their bodies look or their personalities to others they know or see, the toxicity and impact of societal expectations begins right away. Coming from a Hispanic family, I have always had more curves and different physical traits than the rest of my friends. As a result, I would compare myself to them and wonder why I did not look like them. I hated the hair on my arms, the cellulite on my thighs and so many other little things. Learning to love my body and my imperfections has always been the hardest lesson for me and in a way, “Little Things” by One Direction has helped me through the process. As a self-proclaimed “Directioner” (both now and then), I always listened to One Direction. I have always listened to their music and had a connection to each song, but my connection with “Little Things” was different. The song explains that no matter how someone may perceive themselves or their flaws, there is always going to be someone that loves them and those little things. Moreover, the song explains that you are the only person who overanalyzes your flaws and sees them in a negative light. This song was the first time I ever realized that my body and the way I looked was the least important thing about myself. My journey towards self-love has not been easy, but this song is a constant reminder that I should love every part of myself. Even the little things. 

“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John 

Ballerina, you must’ve seen her / Dancing in the sand / And now she’s in me, always with me / Tiny dancer in my hand

When I was little, three of my most prominent qualities were my extrovertedness, independence and free spirit. I did not have a care in the world, and I was often called the “life of the party.” I participated in a lot of sports and activities when I was younger, but two of the most important to me were cheerleading and dance. I cheered and danced alongside some of my best friends throughout elementary school. I loved the freedom and energy that tumbling and stunting gave me in cheer and moving gave me in dance. At family events or community functions, I would always be on the dance floor, busting out a move. One of the songs that I always loved to listen to — despite its rather smooth and soft melody — was “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John. No matter what, I could always bust out a move to this song. As a result, my nickname became “Tiny Dancer.” Elton John wrote this song to describe the free spirit of women in California compared to the more uptight nature of women in his home country of England. The song essentially recognizes and admires the nature of people who can find the fun and light in every situation. I think that I can really relate to this idea, especially looking back on my childhood. I came from an extremely loving and supportive family, and I recognize the privilege that I have grown up with. I was a very happy kid, and I truly only have the best memories from my childhood. I remember all of the family vacations, events and holidays. I remember the memories I made with my friends throughout elementary school at cheer practice, chorus practice, field trips and birthday parties. I essentially remember the positive energy and pure happiness that radiated throughout my childhood. I carried this attitude with me through my transition from elementary to middle school. To this day, I am still extremely independent and extroverted, but I have lost some of my free spiritedness to my battle with anxiety and control. However, every time I listen to “Tiny Dancer,” that sense of a free spirit comes back to me and I remember that I am still that fun-loving and energetic little girl without a care in the world. 

“English Rose” by Ed Sheeran

“I met a man in the bar down in Memphis / He told me he went there to follow his dreams / He told me “son, you know I lost my true love / For the same exact reason that you crossed the sea” / And I found truth in people I barely know / But my heart still beats for my home and my English rose

I come from a relatively big family. In my immediate family, I am the youngest of three. My sister is 10 years older than me and my brother is 8 years older than me. In middle school, both of my siblings were in college. My sister went to school in Fort Myers, Florida and my brother went to school in Baltimore, Maryland. As a result, I lived all of elementary school alone with my parents. Most of my extended family lives in Miami, but I also have family in other parts of Florida and New York. Specifically, in middle school, I remember it always being hard to be with my entire family. In elementary school, holidays such as Thanksgiving and Nochebuena were filled with 40 or more family members, but in middle school, holidays became much smaller and more intimate. FaceTime, iMessage and social media allowed me and my family members to stay connected, but it was never the same as being together. “English Rose” by Ed Sheeran discusses the toll that being away from loved ones takes on people. It describes how life goes on, but part of you is always longing to be with the ones that you love. I have always been an Ed Sheeran fan, and this song is one of my all-time favorites by him. Distance from the ones that you love is hard; nothing will change that. It is human nature to long for face-to-face interaction and connection with people, especially the ones you love. This song taught me the valuable lesson that you may not be with the ones you love at all times and you may long to see them again, but you will always have the memories and future interactions with them. The song reminds me that distance does not make you lose the ones that you love or change the love that you have for them. 

“The World Was Wide Enough” from Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda

If I throw away my shot, is this how you’ll remember me? / What if this bullet is my legacy? / Legacy. What is a legacy?

As I previously said, middle school was a blur. I genuinely have very few memories from middle school that truly stand out to me. I had a great group of friends and I learned a lot at school but middle school was just an awkward stage of my life. Going into high school — much like going into middle school — I did not know a lot of people going to Palmetto because my middle school did not really feed into it. As a naive 14-year old, I had a movie-inspired idea of what high school would be like. I was afraid that I would not fit in, and I was scared that it would take me a long time to find a new group of friends. Moreover, the transition from middle to high school makes you start to think more seriously about the future. At a large high school like Palmetto, it’s easy to fall into the background, so the school encourages you to join clubs and try out for a sport and take certain classes to find the group of people you might fit in with.  The classes you take freshman year impact the course of your high school education and it could trigger a domino effect involving college decisions or postsecondary plans. All of the extracurriculars and activities that you get involved with as a freshman can impact what you put on your college resume. In essence, high school prepares you for college and the next course of your life. Therefore, going into high school, I started to think of how I wanted to leave a legacy on the world. I thought about what profession I wanted to undergo. I thought about what colleges I wanted to go to. I thought about where I saw myself in five, 10, 15 years. “The World Was Wide Enough” from Hamilton marks the moment that Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. After being struck by a bullet in his abdomen, Hamilton (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda) begins thinking about what he has accomplished throughout his life. He wonders if he has done enough to help the newly-founded nation. He wonders if he has completed everything he wanted to accomplish. He wonders if he left a legacy large enough for generations down the line to feel it. Approaching my freshman year of high school, my future was all I could think about. I wanted to make sure that I was devoting myself to my education and living the life that I wanted to live in order to make the mark on the world that I wanted to make. Like Hamilton in this song, I did not want to question whether I had done enough to contribute to the future of the world. However, listening to this song now, I think about all of the feats that I hope to accomplish in the future, and I think about the impact that I am determined to make on the world. 

“Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves 

“’Cause the sky has finally opened / The rain and wind stopped blowin’ / But you’re stuck out in the same ol’ storm again / You hold tight to your umbrella / Well, darlin’, I’m just tryin’ to tell ya / That there’s always been a rainbow / Hangin’ over your head

Freshman year was definitely the worst year of high school for me. Not to sound cliché, but for a lot of the year, I lost myself. The transition from middle to high school hit me really hard, and I did not know how to cope with it. I became extremely anxious about school work, and I became fixated on perfection. I wanted everything in my life to be perfect: my grades, my extracurriculars, my social life, my appearance. By putting so much stress on myself, I felt like I started to spiral out of control. Although I had great grades and a great friend group, I felt so out of control and unhappy with the way I was acting and the person that I had become. My fixation on perfectionism caused my anxiety to swell, and I fell into what seemed like a mild depression. I had previously bottled up a lot of my feelings, and towards the middle of freshman year, they just exploded. Looking back, these were probably some of the darkest times of my life, but I pushed through. I turned my life around. I changed my mentality and began thinking in a more positive way. During this time, I remember listening to “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves and I remember that it provided comfort to me. “Rainbow” is a song that serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is light. In other words, there is always a rainbow at the end of a storm, you just need to push through. My overcoming this part of my life during freshman year does not mean that I do not continue to suffer with perfectionism, anxiety or negative thoughts. I do. But I have learned that perfection does not truly exist, and I have instead started to focus on the importance of maintaining a positive mindset, self-love and relaxation. To anyone suffering, I want to remind you that there truly is a rainbow hanging over your head at the end of your own storm. 

“Getaway Car” by Taylor Swift 

“You were drivin’ the getaway car / We were flyin’, but we’d never get far / Don’t pretend it’s such a mystery / Think about the place where you first met me”

Sophomore and junior years of high school were extremely interesting times of my life. With the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, hanging out and keeping in contact with friends became very difficult. Like many other people, I often felt isolated and alone because I could hardly hang out with anyone without fear of catching COVID or spreading it to others. However, at the end of my junior year of high school, all of that changed. My friends and I started hanging out and going out more often. We remained cautious of the virus, but with a lower positivity and infection rate, we decided that we wanted to make the most out of our senior year together. The summer going into senior year was some of the best months of my life. I traveled with my family, I hung out with my friends and I was genuinely happy. When senior year started, my friends and I were determined to make it the best year of our lives. We wanted to make up for the time lost to the pandemic and we wanted to make the most of our (last high school) year together. “Getaway Car” by Taylor Swift soon became the theme song for my friends and I. Despite the rather negative meaning of the song, the opening notes of the song immediately remind me of the nights that I have spent with my best friends this year. This song is the first song that I blast when my friends and I drive around Miami in my friend’s big, gray van, a car we now call the “getaway car.” It’s the song I play when my friends and I are hanging out on a Friday night after school. It’s the song I play when my friends and I have just come home from a party on Saturday night. It’s the song I play when my friends and I go on road trips to unknown high schools to watch Palmetto play in different sports. It’s the song I play when I reflect on my senior year of high school. 

“Sleep on the Floor” by The Lumineers

“If the sun don’t shine on me today / And if the subways flood and bridges break / Will you lay yourself down and dig your grave / Or will you rail against your dying day.”

If you know me, the soundtrack to my life would not be complete without a Lumineers song. I have been obsessed with this band for the longest time and I find their music to be the most relaxing and pleasing tunes. When I first heard “Sleep on the Floor,” I fell in love with it immediately. The song discusses the changes that people make when they leave their comfort zone. It talks about taking risks and adventuring to places that you would have never imagined yourself going to. The meaning of the song resonates so deeply with me, and this song has become one of my favorites of all time. I have never adapted well to change. I am the type of person who reads the end of the book first and researches the finale of a television series prior to completing it. As a control freak and a person with a phobia of the unknown, change has always presented me with challenges. Accepting change and confronting the unknown have become two of my biggest goals in life, and I have slowly started to conquer them throughout high school. However, as a senior, I found these feelings of change and the unknown to become more and more overwhelming as time passed by. Being accepted to Dartmouth College, I will be attending a school that is completely different from anything that I have ever experienced. From the environment, to the community, to the education, to the overall experience, so many aspects of my life will be changing within the next year. Although I am extremely excited for this next part of my life, I am also terrified of the drastic changes that it will bring. When I feel these emotions starting to spiral, I often turn on this song to remind myself that even though I am leaving my comfort zone, there are so many ways that I can persevere and work through these changes. I cannot control every part of the future. I cannot control the changes coming my way. But I can adapt, I can take the risks and I can push through all of the challenges that come my way.

“Fine Line” by Harry Styles 

“​​We’ll be a fine line / We’ll be alright”

When I heard Harry Styles’ second album for the first time, I immediately fell in love. I love the sequential order of stages in one’s life that the album takes, and I loved that there were songs that could relate to any emotions that a person could have. When I heard “Fine Line” for the first time, I knew that it would be possibly one of the best songs to sum up a coming-of-age movie or a song that details the transition to a new stage in life. As I said before, there is so much unknown as a senior in high school. Questions such as: Where will I apply to college? Where will I get into college? Where will I attend college? Who will I keep in touch with? How will I make the most of my senior year? Are all questions that raced around my head for the majority of the first half of my senior year. I started to suffer from some of the worst anxiety that I had ever experienced, and I realized that I was not living my life or enjoying senior year in the way that I wanted to. “Fine Line” by Harry Styles sums up the extreme highs and lows of a relationship. He reflects on the idea of “it’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved again.” Although I do not interpret the song or relate it to a romantic relationship, I have related it to my life in senior year and relationships with all of my friends. After I got into my dream school and started to feel less stress about academics, I began to feel upset about leaving all of my friends behind. These past four years in high school have been filled with some of the best days and nights of my life with all of my friends. I have made so many memories with each of them, and thinking about the fact that we will not be able to just text each other to hang out or drive around blasting music every night makes me upset. However, “Fine Line” taught me that it is best to appreciate the moments that we have had together rather than dwell on what could have been or what might be. After examining the past relationship and dwelling on the fact that everything about it is over and will never happen again, Styles realizes that he “will be alright.” So, reflecting on the memories of high school and envisioning the future memories I will be making in college, I know that everything will be alright, and I know that these memories in high school have made me into the person that I am today.