There’s nothing wrong with doing your own thing but why limit yourself to what you only know when there is a room full of eager eyes, hungry hearts, and magic thinking. You have the beautiful honor of listening to others, molding new wonders and ideas, and imagining bigger and better.The essence of community is to gather all that is new and wonderful and understood—together.👇🏽 share your fav communities youre a part of
My dear friend Yetti asked me to be a part of her Self-Love series where we all wrote letters to our past selves to let them go and let them know we’re growing and safe now.I wrote to my past self from just a few months ago. Yes, as in who I was just a few months ago was a complete contrast to who I am now and she needed someone badly to help her out of her darkness.We talk about healing our inner child, our younger selves who needed the person we are now to console and comfort her, guide her and redirect her. But we don’t talk about healing our past selves just a moment ago, just a day ago, just a month ago. When we tell ourselves it’s a practice, it is quite literally not about seeing ourselves in different phases or levels to pursue (this isn’t a video game!) but rather seeing ourselves every single day. Practicing how to ask ourselves what are we feeling right now and what do we need from ourselves in this moment?
A personal think piece on how music is the unsung (pun intended) love language that connects us to others.
POV: It’s Monday morning and you’re rolling out of bed, ready to jumpstart the day with your ever-trusted, ever-perfected morning routine. “Alexa, play my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify,” you tell your Amazon Echo Dot with full authority as you lazily saunter over to the bathroom to do your business, brush your teeth, wash your face, and indulge in your 5-step skincare routine. Alexa obeys and starts playing some new songs you have yet to hear, perfectly curated to your music tastes (thank you Spotify, for this weekly gift). Monday mundanity would be the bane of your existence but music always makes things better. And good music makes you feel seen.
As you’re brushing your teeth, you can’t help but dance. You body roll. You gyrate. You hit every beat with no specific move other than that it matches the song. Then comes the next song and it’s just as perfect as the previous. How does Spotify know? Either your music tastes are so generic it doesn’t take much to guess or it’s so specific that there’s a perfected algorithm just for you. Whatever it is, it doesn’t stop you from knowing exactly who to send which new song to because you absolutely cannot gatekeep this experience. So you copy, paste, and send it off, knowing that the people you’ve sent them to will revel in this musical high with you, despite the time and distance. Because that’s what music does – it connects people.
I know I’m not making any phenomenal statement when I say that music is the sixth love language. And I know there are plenty of articles out there written about this idea. Yet, by writing my own piece on the matter, I am taking it as a personal exploration of my own connection to music, and how it has and will continue to transform my life. Call it a sound therapy that never stops healing me. Or a soul ensemble that always guides me through life’s trials and tribulations.
Music has been a key player in a lot of my self-identifying journey. It has allowed me to explore parts of myself that my once young and naive mind couldn’t quite piece together, yet. Back when I was in high school, I would spend hours on Myspace discovering new music. There was an exact strategy behind it and only I knew what worked for me. I didn’t have many friends nor did I really know how to make friends, but I used music as my gateway to conversations and connections. In fact, a lot of my early friendships in my adolescent years began with our shared love of artists and genres and albums and concerts. It was the time of my alternative rock era, so anyone who understood the rapid, blurry rush of emo teenage angst in a crowd-surfing song, understood who I was back then. That in itself was enough to substantiate and solidify friendships for me because I may not have been able to articulate nor dictate my thoughts and feelings then, but I knew music was how I could express myself best.
Little did I know that I was actually treating my undiagnosed depression and anxiety through music. Home was disordered and unstable, and I was having a hard time figuring out how to navigate such a negative environment. Before I sought out therapy and dove into my inner traumas, I was using music as a healing method to feel understood and seen. My desire to belong was actually a fundamental human motivation, whether to belong to a group or to understand how you belong in your own life. Those hours upon hours getting lost on Myspace or Limewire, curating the right songs to put on a mixed tape like I was a musical lab scientist, then sharing them out to each friend, is what I understand now as my way of fitting in and showing that I cared. I wanted the recipient of these mixed tapes to feel seen just as I had while listening to the songs, and I wanted them to understand me through them as well.
I know many of us can relate to this, whether we’ve reflected on our relationship and history with music or not. We all have experienced those pivotal moments when music saved us. Without realizing it, my personal practice of finding songs and getting lost in their sounds, was actually an escape from the everyday stresses. In a recent systematic review, studies showed that the use of music interventions (listening to music, singing, and music therapy) can create significant improvements in mental health, and smaller improvements in physical health–related quality of life. When we consider sound baths and their purpose, there is a scientific link between the vibrations within a song and how our bodies absorb these sounds, so it’s no wonder that our souls are instantly soothed when we release ourselves into this sonic experience. And this experience allows us to explore further into ourselves when we melt away the other senses and connect with our deeper mental and emotional layers.
I’ve seen how my own mental health improves when I find myself deeply immersed in any music that speaks to exactly how I feel in that moment. It has allowed me to explore a reality separate from my unstable home and connect with my fragile inner child. Today, listening to music has become the everyday conversations I have with myself, to learn more about myself, to love more about who I am, and connect with all that I’ve come to be.
I recently told a friend that the best version of me is when I’m fully enveloped in good music, and that I hoped more people could see me that way, if it meant they could observe me in my most authentic self. As I think about that comment now, I understand that I’m asking for my soul to be seen.
Just as music is a powerful personal healer, it can be a significant community gatherer, too. We see how this takes into effect at concerts, festivals, karaoke nights, girls’ nights blasting heartbreak anthems and singing at the top of our lungs. There is just something about how music simply brings people together, regardless of background, history, race, age, gender, culture etc., and I think we can say that there aren’t many unifiers that could continuously do just that.
Whether niche or broad, there is music for every single person to relate to and belong to a specific group. As I’ve mentioned in a previous piece, a sense of belonging is a core human desire and driver of individual motivation, and when we can belong to a group that sees us, then we feel compelled to contribute more of ourselves. While experiences help us build empathy to see others, music helps us build connections to feel seen by others and “provides a safe way for individuals to interact and share experiences without revealing their personal information.” We all want to share parts of ourselves while feeling like we belong here, and music allows us to do so by threading our shared emotions, stories, places, and moments. It’s no wonder collectives such as Soulection have such an enormous global following, because as immersive listeners, we are opening ourselves up to transcend beyond our physical constraints and be a part of a larger community. In a piece by Vice reflecting on Soulection’s 10-year influence, Kristen Corry writes, “for someone like the Seattle-born Sango, whose adventurous funk productions have transported us to Brazil and back, it’s no surprise that his collaborative merch with Soulection Supply, “Be Patient, Grow Daily," immortalizes his personal mantra to embrace change. This is just one example of how the brand turns the music into an experience beyond a song.” We simply don’t listen to music just because it makes us feel good. We listen to music because we also want to be part of a larger experience with people who get it, too. There is a synchronization to the ways we connect with each other, and we hope to find like-minded people who align with how we move in this world.
I’ve thought a lot about how I’ve connected with my own friends through music, and how it’s become an essential part of our relationships and how it’s helped me get closer to people. One of my friends mentioned it has brought him closer because he can understand people through their song preferences. As one of my more introverted friends, he’s shared that when someone likes a similar song as he does, he’ll ask, “How does it make you feel? Why do you connect to it?” In asking these, he hopes to learn if it makes them feel the way he feels, too, because despite any other similar interests, these shared feelings are what catapults them to a closer friendship based on a visceral emotional connection.
This same quest for social connection holds true for those within the music industry as well. For Brooklyn-based DJ Ares Gold, he believes his craft is part of the ongoing energy-sharing process, where his role as a DJ is to act as a vessel for a deepened audio experience. “Seeing how music really brings people together as a community, it’s not a one-sided street for a DJ…it’s about the flow of energy. And at this one point in time, although temporary, we are one. I am able to provide you with an experience that is beyond myself.” For him and DJ’s alike, his relationship with music is part of a larger purpose in bringing people together. He sees music as a necessary mode of human connection.
We connect with each other because we want to understand each other. We hope to communicate to others that we see them, we hear them, and we invite them into our lives. Music is a natural resource for that deeper understanding, without using words that we aren't fully confident in articulating. It’s become a language of its own that has brought people together, without having to divulge much of ourselves, especially the not-ready-to-be-shared parts of ourselves. And it’s become an act of extended love without being too personal in the ways we show that affection.
In examining how music is both a personal exploration and a community tool, I truly believe music is a universal love language.
For those of us familiar with love languages, they’re five unique styles of communicating love. “[They] are five different ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Not everyone communicates love in the same way, and likewise, people have different ways they prefer to receive love.” By understanding each other’s love languages, we are better able to deepen our relationship, both platonic and romantic, with others by showing how we care for each other in the ways that make sense to one another. And as we’ve mentioned, it’s important for us to strengthen and grow our connections in hopes of seeing them last for as long as they can.
Music ultimately fulfills all five love languages. If music is that emotional storyteller, then it also acts as a way of expressing ourselves and how we understand someone else. As words of affirmation, we are using lyrics of a song to express how we feel or how we empathize with someone else’s inner thoughts. As quality time, we are sharing this immersive experience together, and through this related medium. As a gift, we are sending songs to each other and saying, “This reminded me of you and I hope you’ll like it, too.” As an act of service, especially for those within the music industry, we’re providing spaces and opportunities where music can bring us closer to each other. And as physical touch, we use our bodies to translate how the music makes us feel and communicate that feeling outwardly – we dance, and we dance together. Consider the ways you engage with music in your own life, and see how you’ve used it to show your love for the people in your life, as well. You’ll find that music has been a significant driver in your closest relationships, and even more so as the enabler for deepening those relationships.
I’ve thought about my own relationships, both platonic and romantic, and how music has played a part in their evolutions. So many of my friendships (including the awkward high school ones!), were contingent on music and the kinds of music we loved. And if it didn’t start out with music, it definitely grew to include music as part of our growing relationship. When it came to romantic relationships, I never considered music a huge part of our intimate connections – I would shrug it off as insignificant to our overall relationships. But now, I realize there is this unspoken passion, this quieted spark, that lights up inside me when music becomes a personal invitation into each other’s raw and vulnerable emotions, and if that’s when I feel my best, then I hope to share my best, especially with potential partners. It is an important love language for me, as much as the other love languages are, and I hope to communicate that more intentionally with all my relationships going forward.
It’s one thing to connect with someone initially, but it’s another to connect with them on a soul level. I knew there was something deeper than simply sharing similar interests, hobbies, tastes, ideas that made two people truly see each other, but I didn’t know in what way. It wasn’t until one evening, as I was getting high with a friend and we spent our entire time together taking turns playing our favorite songs for each other, that I understood how music has now become my communication tool beyond the daily antics and quips. It’s become my personal love language, both to myself, including my inner child, and to the people I care about. Music is the heart and soul of dynamic, ever-growing, ever-connected relationships, and I hope we never stop sharing its healing powers.