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New tunes, new me: Using music to freshen up life

Every college student knows the feeling: It's the week back after a break from school and you can’t motivate yourself to do homework. You put everything off until the last minute, and stress yourself out when it's 10 p.m. on a Sunday before everything is due and you’re not even halfway done.

I’ve recently realized I am prone to post-break laziness. It grew in intensity and hit a peak the week after spring break.

Half of my spring break was spent with friends from home and the other half on a project for The Miami Student. When winter break’s end was drawing near, I was eager to go back. But as this post-spring break Sunday drew closer, I dreaded the drive back.

Maybe it was because I had been reminded of the glorious life of home-cooked meals and shoeless showers, or maybe I was aware of how much work I’d have when I got back.

I was crumbling from the stress and life felt both crushing fast-paced and grudgingly dull. I didn’t know the solution.

One morning, I was scrolling through Spotify, finding music to start my day. I had grown tired of my playlist, and Chappell Roan’s “HOT TO GO!” had been stuck in my head for the past few days after hearing it from TikTok.

What's the remedy for a song that won’t leave your head? Pressing play.

I searched “Chappell Roan” and turned on her album “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.” I heard the intriguing, almost ethereal intro of “Femininomenon,” and immediately I was drawn in. “After Midnight” and “Guilty Pleasure” quickly became my favorites. 

I understood immediately why “HOT TO GO!” and “Red Wine Supernova” were fan favorites. “Coffee” struck a chord with my soul, “Picture You” almost brought me to tears and I found it unbelievable that “Kaleidoscope” was a real song because of how angelic and authentic it was.

Life felt magnificent afterward. I walked to class blasting the album through my headphones with a newfound confidence and outlook on life.

This switch in attitude often happens after I listen to a new artist or new music from an artist I already love. During the last three hours of the 13-hour drive to Destin, Florida, the summer before senior year, I had grown bored with my playlist. I decided to check out Maya Hawke’s, widely known as Robin from “Stranger Things,” discography. 

Her album “Blush” became my soundtrack for that trip. Every note of those 12 songs transports me back to memories of sand castle building, post-beach showers and late-night conversations by the pool with my best friend.

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Life becomes new again when I have a new soundtrack to accompany me on my adventures.

So is it the power of music that pulls me out of these slumps? Or is it simply a psychological trick?

The “beginner’s mind” is a Zen teaching meant to rid us of preconceived notions of the world and return us to a child-like state of mind, seeing the world with awe and wonder. An attitude of eagerness and openness characterizes it and is useful when life begins to feel repetitive. 

To awaken the “beginner’s mind,” you should take a routine you know well and alter something. Going to class? Take the scenic route instead of the efficient one. Getting ready for bed? Switch up the usual order by brushing your teeth before washing your face. Or you could, like me, press play on a new album.

College is the prime time for new opportunities and experiences. By the time a month or two has passed in the semester, students have formed routines to help them adjust and bring normality to their lives. While routines aren't necessarily a bad thing, it's important we make an effort to switch things up now and then to keep life feeling new, exciting and fresh.

Roan’s album has infiltrated my main playlist, and considering how much I’ve looped it in the past two weeks, it could lose its “newness” soon. Hopefully by then, Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department” will be out, so I’ll have new music to obsess over for a few weeks. Until then, maybe I’ll check out Conan Gray’s “Found Heaven.”

Taylor Powers is a first-year double majoring in journalism as well as media and communication from Trenton, Ohio. She is a staff writer for The Student and an assistant editor for The Miami Student Magazine.